8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)
“Amazing Grace” the hymn written in 1772 by poet/clergyman John Newton may be the most recognized Christian hymn of all time. The moving words are often heard at funeral services, both Christian and secular. Perhaps because we have come to associate the tune with the mournful tones of the bagpipes, this hymn of praise and joy is too often sung at a dirge-like tempo.
When my congregation sang it recently, I was struck by how the doleful tempo of the music jarred with the words.
How incongruous to sing:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
This hymn begins and ends with joy at God’s amazing, incredible, mind-blowing, astonishing, remarkable, unbelievable, astounding, breathtaking, exciting, fascinating and marvelous grace to His children. Why would we choose to sing it as though we are sad and mournful?
The tunes and tempos of worship music play on our emotions and, when paired with inspirational lyrics, can move us in deep and meaningful ways. However, it is important to sing with the heart and the mind; with emotions and also with understanding of what we are singing.
Music has always been a vital component of worship, and how much greater can be our worship experience when we pay attention to the words and sing them from the heart.