The title of this blog site (Reform worship.) is an imperative command. We are telling ourselves and asking you to reform worship. In our minds it is imperative that we continue refining and expanding our understanding and practice of worship. I like imperative commands. Not because I think I'm right, and it's imperative that you change, but because of the challenges that come with imperatives, first to myself then to others.

I also like imperative commands in praise and worship songs. For example, the hymn "Come Ye Sinners" calls everyone to find refuge in the loving arms of Jesus. As we are singing the song, we are, in a sense, inviting each other into Christ's embrace, singing to one another in a very communal way. This type of corporate communion is somewhat rare in the average American worship service. In a culture where individualism thrives, the church can be uncomfortable collectively worshiping God, especially singing to one another. We are most comfortable singing in the first-person singular to God, "I love you, Lord." We are also fine with singing songs about God, "The Lord is gracious and compassionate." But we are much less accustomed to exhorting one another in song, "Come ye sinners."

Last year I wrote a song with the intention of breaking myself out of this mold. It has turned out to be one of the more effective songs our congregation sings together. I believe it has something to do with the imperative nature of the lyrics and the communal worship experience it facilitates.

    He Is the Lord

    Open up your heart
    Let the Spirit sing
    Stand aside and wait
    For the Lord, for your King
    Open up your ears
    Listen to the song
    Saints of every age
    Every voice sings along

    He is the Lord
    He is the Lord
    He is the Lord
    Jesus is Lord

    Open up your lips
    Tell of what He's done
    Dwelt among the lost
    Wholly God and a son
    Opened sightless eyes
    Light no more concealed
    Spoke of things to come
    Word of God, truth revealed

    Open up your eyes
    Testify of grace
    Cling onto the cross
    Perfect love, God's embrace
    Open up your mind
    Mystery of life
    Gaze into the grave
    Jesus Christ is alive

    Keep us believing
    Give us the faith to keep on believing, Lord
    Keep us confessing
    Give us the grace to keep on confessing, Lord

Other songs consisting of imperative commands that I can think of off the top of my mind include:

  • "Oh Praise Him" (Turn your ear to heaven.)
  • "Give Thanks" (Give thanks with a grateful heart.)
  • "All Who Are Thirsty" (Come to the fountain.)
  • "How Great Is Our God" (Sing with me. [Although, in my opinion "sing with me" is kind of an awkward lyric to lead.]).

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