Worn Out Song Books
John Telgren


I remember the songbooks from the little congregation where I grew up. They were worn, tattered, and falling apart. Some were taped to try and hold them together a bit longer. One of our favorites from the songbook was 728b. The songbooks were not that old, but they were well used. Everyone time there was a fellowship, get-together at someone's house, or picnic at the park, we always grabbed a bunch of those song books so we could sing. It wasn't unusual after services to see a group in the corner continuing to sing, or trying out a new song. Sometimes we would get together at someone's house specifically for the purpose of singing. We would record it and share the recording with people.

Guests to our assembly commented on how good our singing sounded. A few were trained musically, but most were not. Perhaps it was because we loved to sing. Our song leaders loved to sing and their love for singing was contagious. This obviously had a huge impact on the "atmosphere" of our assembly and of the congregation in general. Being with the brethren was uplifting, encouraging, and strengthening. We enjoyed being together. Not only did we play ball together, eat together, play board games together, do ministry together, but we sang together. And boy did we sing. Those worn out songbooks were a reflection of the type of congregation we were.

I believe that growing spiritually and singing are intrinsically connected. Notice this passage:

"And do not be drunk with wine in which is debauchery, but be filled with spirit, speaking to each other in psalms, with hymns, and with spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God and Father, being subject to one another in the fear of Christ" (Eph 5:18-21, My translation).

Grammatically, there is only one positive command in this passage. The passage says, "Be filled with the Spirit." All of those other "ing" words are called participles. They are all connected to the one command to "Be filled with the Spirit." Spirit filled people are those who are speaking, singing, giving thanks, and being subject to one another, according to this passage.

Being filled with the Spirit means we think spiritual thoughts and we feel spiritual things. This is why we not only speak words, but we sing them as well. The power of the word to shape our intellect combined with the power of music to shape our heart will strengthen, encourage, and bless us. The result is that we are built up so that we can serve God, minister to one another, and fulfill our purpose in this world with courage, joy, and hope.

Worn out songbooks are evidence of this aspect of spiritual growth. Are our songbooks getting worn out?