What Is a Worship Song


Leading worship for ten years has led me to some interesting talks on what worship is. For this post, I want to focus on the subject of worship songs. By “worship” I’m meaning in the context of Christianity understanding that it could be a lot broader spectrum.

What is a worship song? What makes a song Christian? I by no means have all the answers, but because I am the worship pastor at GraceLife, it is my duty to teach from my knowledge and convictions the truths about worship. So this post is just that. My thoughts and convictions on what a worship song is.

  • It’s adoration – When I sing a song of worship, primarily it’s a prayer set to song form. A worship song can be a prayer. The words used say how our heart feel and we sing them to God. I don’t sing a worship song full of empty meanings or words. Each phrase has a place in my heart, and as I sing them my voice gives inflection to those heart-felt meanings. I encourage you when you sing, that it’s not empty hearted and voice filled. May your singing be one of prayer, singing the very thoughts and feelings you have towards God.

Ex. How Great Thou Art – Oh Lord my God. When I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder. Thy power throughout the universe have made. Then sings my soul, my savior God to Thee. How great thou art. How great Thou art.

  • It’s an exhortation – There are normally a million things going on in your life before you step into the church doors. It’s hard to just shut off the world and start singing praises. And I wouldn’t ask you to do that. Sometimes, we need to say to one another and ourselves.WAIT. STOP. FOCUS.  We sometimes need to say to ourselves, “Self, it’s time we worship.” So we sing songs of exhortation to one another. They become worship songs when we sing of Godly truths and exhortations when we speak these truths to one another. Paul told us to sing to one another in Ephesians 5:19. David even had to spur on his own soul in Psalm 42:5.

Ex. Come Now Is The Time To Worship – Come, now is the time to worship. Come, now is the time to give your hearts. Come, just as you are to worship. Come, just as you are before Your God. One day every tongue will confess you are God. One day every knee will bow. Still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly seek you now!

  • It’s a declaration – We sing songs of worship to declare Godly truths about God. Songs can speak of God and not necessarily to God, but because we are declaring God’s truths about Him, he is pleased and this is worship. Telling God that we acknowledge His attributes, ie; goodness, justice, merciful, loving kindness, gracefulness, are also worshiping God through song. We believe and confess Him before others and to Him as well. We stand on the truth that He has given us all He is. Standing on these truths through faith is worship so singing about these truths through faith is no less a worship song.

Ex. Still Standing – If not for Your goodness, If not for Your grace, I don’t know where I would be today. If not for Your kindness, I never could say I’m still standing. If not for Your mercy, If not for Your love, I most likely would have given up. If not for your favor, I never could say, I’m still standing but by the grace of God

  • It’s supplication – I’m sure to offend some by this but “me” songs are biblical. All throughout the Psalms, David and other psalmist wrote songs asking, petitioning, and beseeching God for things of their own interest. Of course it should go without saying our interest should be those that would bring God glory. Many churches avoid “me” centered songs but I say there are three persons involved in life; God, others, and our self. Our desire should be for bettering our self so that we may serve others and God. This includes asking God for things that we may need so we can better love, and minister, and serve others as well as God.

Ex. There’s a love, forgetting my failures. There’s a hope, that’s setting me free. There’s a light, defeating my darkness. And there’s redemption calling, And causing all to sing. Father will You come and open up our eyes. Fill us with Your love, renew us with Your life. Consume us with Your Majesty, consume of with your majesty

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About Kevin Riner
child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Pastor of Village Church, author of Faith Debugged

3 Responses to What Is a Worship Song

  1. theJake says:

    First I have to tell you I miss you. The really manly, macho, want-to-hug-you kind of miss.

    Secondly, I love your post. I would add one addendum only because it’s one of my favorite stories about worship in the Bible (2 Chron 20). And that is the principle of worship as warfare. But that could also fall under supplication as well. God stuff bro! I read it as if we were having a conversation about it, good times.

    • Kevin Riner says:

      Yes yes and yes! Worship as warfare most definitely. Knew I was missing something.

      I would reciprocate that manly macho-type hug. I truly miss the team and church of Lifesong.

  2. Pingback: Worship « After the Ecstasy, the Laundry . . .

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