Phases of the Heart: A Philosophy of Worship Music, Part 5

Larry BruceWorship CornerLeave a Comment

Songs of Invitation

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:4-5

As I shared last month, I will take the next few Worship Corners to highlight each of the four “Phases of the Heart” that I use to categorize our worship library and guide in the adding of new material for our worship. The first: Songs of Invitation.

This might be the most intuitive group. Songs of invitation do just that: they invite us into this place of worship where we can begin to shake off the baggage we brought with us that might otherwise serve to hinder our praise. It is worth noting that our hymnals have always had a group of hymns categorized as Hymns of Invocation (our Lutheran Service Book lists these as “Beginning of Service”). The reason is rather simple: we worshipers need a buffer. It is difficult to enter into a place where we can fully participate in gathered worship, to speak a confession, to receive forgiveness, to hear the Word given, etc. Songs of invitation call to mind the truths of Scripture, encourage the worshiper to be fully present, and to prepare our hearts to receive what God intends to give in Worship.

How about some examples? In our hymnal, we see “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty” (LSB 901) and “Today Your Mercy Calls Us” (LSB 915). For our contemporary library, we use songs such as, “House of the Lord” to invite us in. As we sing verse 2, we see the benefit this song has for a worshiper entering in: “We sing to the God who heals / We sing to the God who saves / We sing to the God who always makes a way / ‘Cause He hung up on that cross / then He rose up from that grave / My God’s still rolling stones away.”

Another great song of invitation is “Ancient Gates,” one I have written about before. In this song we sing to each other, to encourage one another to see our worship as a foretaste (or a Glimpse) of the praise eternal as we gather together before the throne and the One seated upon it for eternity.

As we will see in the months to come, there are some songs that we are not ready to sing until later in worship, after our hearts have been softened by the work of the One who serves us in worship. So songs of invitation are necessary. And this is an important classification I use to determine whether certain songs can be used in worship at all.

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