Songs I can't seem to sing...

Have you ever been so moved while singing a song that you suddenly can’t sing anymore? This happens to me occasionally during worship services in church. There are many songs I don’t feel strongly about one way or the other, many I like, and some I love. But a few songs have phrases that hit me so hard I get a catch in my throat as the words are being sung, and for a few seconds I can’t seem to stay composed enough to sing.

Here are a couple examples:

The modern hymn Before the Throne of God Above contains the phrase “because the sinless savior died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the Just is satisfied to look on him and pardon me.” I simply can’t sing this! Somewhere in the course of these words I get hit with the full reality that I am a living, joyful son of God… because of someone else.

The final stanza of In Christ Alone reads “From life’s first cry ‘till final breath, Jesus commands my destiny… till he returns, or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand.” My throat catches on words because the thought of every moment of this life being absolutely defined by Jesus and his mission of redemption is so powerful. I also weep at the word “home,” because it reminds me that there’s a glorious destination at the end of this defining journey, and I want it.

One more: the closing stanza to the hymn It Is Well With My Soul. “The clouds be rolled back as a scroll, the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord oh my soul!” The swell of the music combined with the fulfillment of a long hope sweeps me up into wanting to run hard and finish well.

There are other songs too, but these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. As you can see, most songs that hit me so hard I usually can’t even sing them have to do with big hot pictures of God and his glory, with the meaning and purpose of the Christian life, and with yearning to reach our final, and real, home. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but in the last 10 years of my life these are some of the top lessons God has taught me. Hopefully the reaction these songs produce is evidence that the lessons are going all the way to the core of my being. Just typing this post has made me a bit sniffly - and I’m not even singing!

I’d love to hear what songs you have trouble singing because they move you so strongly. Got any?

6 comments:

Jenn said...

Thanks for your comments on my blog. I appreciate what you have to say. (don't let that go to your head). I have one comment though...you didn't actually vote.

Now about your post...I just found your blog the other day but I'm thankful for people like you (again, don't let it go to your head) who have the ability to look at life in such a way that you see God in everything. Books, music, anything. And then put what you see into words...it helps people like me who say "that's a nice song" dig a little deeper and get more meaning in life.

Matt Guerino said...

Okay I admit it! By the time I finished my comment I realized I couldn't push you in one direction or the other. But your harsh, binary, yes-or-no vote buttons were confining me, forcing me to choose for you (gosh, I'm sounding like Seth Chase...) So I opted for the safe, wimpy, consultant-type route: offer thoughts and then leave the decision to someone else. :)

Thanks for the feedback too on what you like and why. People's thoughts on that (whether through comments, e-mail, or live) do influence what and how I'm writing, 'cause I want this blog to be a helpful place for others as well as an anvil for my own thinking.

And don't worry about head swell. You have always been good at making sure there were planety of pins around to let out any excess hot air... ;)

mike mcdaniel said...

How Great Thou Art gets me every time. It was my Grandpa Whitaker's favorite hymn, and he used to belt it out with his wife singing harmony everywhere he went. One time, on the rim of the Grand Canyon, he was so moved by what he saw that he gave God the glory with this song at the top of his lungs. No one was around, and he thought he was just singing for God, but when he finished he heard applause from up and down the rim, as well as from the other side of the canyon!

PapaJohn said...

Matt,
I too have problems with It is Well With My Soul. We had it sung at my Father’s funeral. It has also come up at church during times when it would have been easy to say It Isn’t Well. It has such deep significance. It is always well with Him.

Matt Guerino said...

Mike, LOVE the grandpa Whitaker story! What a funny, and yet neat memory to pass down. I remember Grandma Whitaker at your parents' house in Brentwood, if I've got the right grandmother.

John: Ain't that the truth!? The power behind those words will really sink in if you dare to let it. I say dare because those are transforming, shaking truths.

Kelly said...

Amazing Grace! I don't EVER get through it without tears of gratefulness. "when we've been there ten thousand years bight shining as the sun, we've NO less days to SING Gods Praise than when we first begun" it'll be a never ending WORSHIP service. From an Artists heart! :-)

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