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In Favor of Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Psalm 63:3-7
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. 5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
Verses 3 - 5 of the verse above make up the chorus of a song I wrote a while back...I'm not even sure I like the song anymore, but I always remember those words...they are ingrained in my heart because I have sung them and meditated on them.

Sometimes I will complete a set list for a given Sunday and look at it and wonder if we should sing that song again. Then I bring the set to the band and sometimes they moan...but then we sing with our church and after a while the peoples voices soar on the songs that they know. When they aren't focused on learning a melody or a lyric, they are free to worship, and there is a marked increase in their expressiveness before the Lord.

Beyond the corporate context I think there is a real value repetition of worship music. If people know the songs in their guts...that's what they'll be singing during the week. I would love it if the words of Scripture put to music could win out in the meditation of folks hearts over coldplay, or eminem, or whoever....

I'm always challenged by the accounts of Jonah, and Jesus, and others who in moments of great distress and need, turned to Scripture songs that were deep in their hearts...the natural outflow of themselves in that moment...their spiritual reflexes per se, were in that moment...worship.

As a worship pastor part of my job is helping to shape this in the people who attend our church. That's why I lean more toward repetition. That's why we often have "theme songs" for a particular sermon series or season in our church.

That doesn't mean we don't do new songs...I love new music, and we are doing something wrong if fresh songs aren't being sung, (I think the Bible says something about singing a new song...) but I constantly ask myself if the way and frequency that I present new songs is leading people toward really engaging with God in worship, and getting His truths in their hearts, or just tickling my need for a hot new guitar lick.