repeat sign

Repetitious Worship Songs

Stephen Newman offers a Biblical example of repetition:

For years we have all heard the arguments about choruses and how meaningless it seems to repeat over and over. I came out of a traditional background and could definitely sympathize with the argument. It seemed we felt that repeating a phrase such as “God is so good” or “Father, I adore You” over and over was mere repetition and held little value and very little meat. Because of the deeper text and poetic nature of the hymns, it would appear that they may be right. After all, most of the hymns have stood the test of time for the past century.

As a worship pastor I would frequently be asked, “Why do we sing those songs over and over” or “It’s not my style to repeat a song again and again.” It bothered me that people didn’t understand what we were trying to do by helping them focus on God. It was more distracting for me as a young man to sing four different verses of a song and try to present it as worship to God. There was so much in some of the hymns that it was overwhelming at times. My problem stemmed from the fact that biblically I could find no evidence of why we should sing things over and over. For me it was a style and preference issue that I had found worked best. How was I to communicate that to our people? How could I help others to see the importance? The Psalms held few answers because they too were quite wordy. It wasn’t until I heard a sermon from our pastor that brought life to a verse I had read many times. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty who was and who is and who is to come.” (Revelation 4:8) I found it amazing that I had read this verse a hundred times and only now realized the importance it had concerning our worship. The four living creatures would say this day and night and did not cease. It sure gives new meaning to the word, repetitive! I wonder if God got tired of hearing it. I feel it probably didn’t do anything for the creatures. It had to get old, wouldn’t it? This was for all time, forever.

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