BRING LIFE TO AN OLD HYMN
As a Worship Leader, do you want to bring some new life to the hymn, Come Thou Fount?
In churches with contemporary worship, traditional hymns are emerging as a favorite.
They are loved because they are familiar. And timeless. They remind us of an age past.
At our church, the young adults are some of the biggest fans of hymns.
Some refer to this trend as a Return to the Ancient Church Rhythms. Common Prayer. Responsive Readings. Taize Services.
And along with all that comes hymns!
One challenge of leading contemporary worship with hymns is knowing that we are sadly missing part of the meaning.
The depth of hymns lies in the lyrics. And for many of us, it is hidden. Because the language is not our language.
The word choice, illustrations, and analogies in early hymns are not alive in our culture. So we are singing without understanding.
When I look at Hymns for worship, I work to find creative ways to impart the meaning. To bring life to the words on the screen.
Rather than just an honor of tradition, let’s make hymns a true shout of worship to an Timeless God. Ever-Lasting. Never Changing.
COME THOU FOUNT MEANING
The anthem rings out, “Here I raise my Ebenezer!” (Is there anyone not tempted to snicker, just a little?)
What in the world is an Ebenezer anyway?
And there it is! The opportunity to go deeper in worship!
THE STORY OF THE EBENEZER STONE
The Ebenezer stone appears in 1 Samuel 7 when the Israelites were under attack. Scared for their lives. And the short story is: God stepped in and saved them.
1 Samuel 7:12 says, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.'”
This is the reference in the hymn.
Samuel knew how important it was to remember God’s intervention in our lives. He knew we would forget.
Even miraculous events, we forget.
So the rock is the reminder. The reminder of God stepping in.
We are bombarded with frustrations. Car Repairs. Screaming Kids. A Contentious Boss. Bills Due.
We forget the involvement of an actual Living God — in every moment of worry or joy, boredom or busy.
Can you imagine walking through your everyday problems with Rock Pile Reminders all around you?
Each a memorial of God’s intervention in your own life. Reminders of when God DID show up.
He WILL intervene. He IS present. He IS speaking.
If God showed up in the past, He will show up in our present. Absolutely.
The Old Testament is full of stories of stone altars. Physical reminders of this All-Powerful God we serve.
Maybe we could gain some wisdom from this ancient practice.
CREATIVE WORSHIP RESPONSE: ROCK PILE REMINDERS
Here’s how you can bring this home for your worshipers.
#1 Collect Rocks!
Go on a rock hunt and collect one rock for every worshiper plus a few extra. You may need to head out on a hike. But here in Arizona, we just walk into our yard!
#2 Take the rocks to church and pile them in the front of your worship center. Probably on a table unless you have a stage where they can be elevated a bit.
#3 After singing verse one of the familiar hymn Come Thou Fount, say something like this:
Before we continue singing, I want to talk about the Ebenezer Stone. We are about to boldy sing “Here I Raise My Ebenezer!” (I laugh) and I think we should know what an Ebenezer is!
SHARE THE STORY OF THE EBENEZER STONE (ABOVE).
And then continue…
Can you think of a time when you knew God was real? Just one moment. When He showed up in your life.
Maybe it was a feeling of comfort. A whisper of guidance. A divine meeting of a new friend.
Maybe it was a healing. A job offer. Or an all-out rescue. Maybe when you were very young.
Just think of one time.
And as we continue singing the hymn… “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come…” I want to invite you to come up.
Just come up and take a stone from the pile, as a symbol.
A physical remembrance of God’s faithfulness in your own lives.
This is you very own Ebenezer.
We did this in my church. And a beautiful thing happened.
One by one, people came up, bent down, and chose a rock from the pile.
As they went back to their seats, the atmosphere was sacred.
I encouraged everyone to take their stone home, to put it somewhere in plain sight. As a reminder of what God had done in their lives.
Simple. Inexpensive. Thoughtful.
Bringing added meaning to an old hymn. And heartfelt meaning to a relationship with an Ever-Present God.
Creative elements don’t have to be extensive, expensive or a monumental undertaking.
I believe God uses all of our senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste – to help us know Him more.
Even a rock can bring something new to our relationship with Him.
Where did the rocks end up from our little worship service?
I know where mine is.
If you try this at your church, I would love to know how it goes! Let me know in the Comments below.