I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God.I will sing my praise to you with the lyre, with the lyre.© Ian White, 1987
I appreciate the allusions to Scripture, but I can’t play the harp or the lyre, and so I’m made out to be a liar if I harp on about playing them. But this use of ‘I will . . .’ isn’t really an issue for me. My reservations arise more from songs such as this one:
I will offer up my life in spirit and truth,pouring out the oil of love as my worship to you.In surrender I must give my every part;Lord, receive the sacrifice of a broken heart.© Matt Redman, 1994
Or this one:
I will only worship you,there’s nothing I want more than to be with you,more and more I love you, Lord.The only one I bow before,I worship you with all that you’ve put in methis is what you made me for.© Nathan Fellingham & Adrian Watts, 1997
The sentiments, I’m sure, are genuine; but, personally, I can’t really sing these songs without realising how rarely – how I never, in fact – live up to these words. No matter how much I intend to offer up my life, no matter how much I desire to worship God alone, I just can’t (or won’t). And so, unlike the earlier song about harps and lyres, singing these kinds of songs trouble me more than those that simply adopt biblical phrases or imagery.
But recently I happened to hear, for the first time in years, David Ruis’s I will worship with all of my heart (© 1991), and I found myself listening and (dare I say it?) worshipping. I don’t have a problem with this song; but why not? It follows a similar kind of lyrical pattern to the Redman and Fellingham/Watts songs mentioned above; so, for consistency’s sake, I should have at least some reservations about singing the Ruis one. But I don’t.
I have to admit from the outset that I suppose a large reason for singing I will worship is that I find the tune tolerable; all right, I like it. To take Redman’s I will offer up my life as my foil, I don’t like its melody. This means I’m already more inclined to give Ruis a listen than Redman. But it occurred to me that perhaps, just perhaps, I interpret Ruis’s song eschatologically; that is, while at the moment I cannot sing the words ‘I will worship with all of my heart’ entirely truthfully (and surely nobody can claim genuinely to worship with all of his or her heart, soul, strength, mind, or being), one day I will be able to sing this in all truthfulness and sincerity. And so, by singing ‘I will worship with all of my heart’ now, I reason that I’m expressing my desire to worship wholeheartedly and am somehow participating, through the Spirit, in the worship of the age to come. Of course, this means that I should also be able to sing I will offer up my life and I will only worship you from the same kind of eschatological position, so it’s only my musical tastes that prevent me from singing these songs. It may also mean that, in the age to come, I’ll have a new-found ability to play the harp and lyre . . .