Of the Ages and All Ages

My family attended a home church for several years when I was in middle school. I was a new believer, and very passionate. Our church did not have many musicians, so unless someone brought their guitar, most weeks we worshiped with printed out lyrics to a CD of worship music put together by one of the men in the group.

One week we were singing the song “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin. I enthusiastically sang with my eyes closed until I realized that no one else was still singing. I realized that everyone was watching me and laughing. While at the time, I was embarrassed, I realized later that they weren’t laughing because I was “doing it wrong;” they were laughing because they were happy to see me excited to worship.

Psalm 71 demonstrates the power of multi-generational worship. It says: “Oh God, you have taught me from my youth, and to this day I declare your wondrous works” (Psalm 19:17). Training in righteousness and praise does not begin when a worshiper reaches adulthood, but starts from youth.

The psalmist goes on to say that even when “I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare your strength to this generation, your power to everyone who is to come” (Psalm 19:18). This is witnessing, which Harold best describes as “overheard worship.”[1] Sharing the delights of worshiping God is a joy without age limits, but Scripture describes it as unique in old age, because it shows the longevity of God’s faithfulness.

Multigenerational is right and beautiful, but how do we encourage it? Multigenerational worship requires worshipers to become servants of each other, by using music that represents different generations, and not just the worship leader’s musical preference.   

When Paul and Timothy urge the Philippians to be like-minded, one characteristic is to “each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4). What is a better picture of this than when we sing to one another? When worship leaders select music, they should seek music not just from their own generation’s songbook, but some from that of the senior saints, and some from that of the youth.

If I am singing music that is not my favorite stylistically so someone else can worship authentically, I am submitting my interests to the interests of others. When I only choose music that is my favorite, I am making my preferences into my god.

So next time that you see a young child worshiping, let it be a reminder of the joy of growing in godliness. If you see a senior saint worshiping, remember that God’s faithfulness is not a passing fancy. When you see them worshiping together, remember the gift of unity we have in Christ Jesus.

[1] Harold Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 203.

Music as Gift

When I’m having a bad day, I often listen to sad music and let myself feel sad for a while. Then I turn on a “bop” and try to use the music to give myself an emotional shot of happiness. When I’m walking through campus on the way from a long class to a longer class, I tend to turn on an upbeat song and dance my way there to get a burst of energy and enthusiasm.

In our culture, we often use music as a way to express our emotions (I am sad), and to shape our emotions (I am enthusiastic). This can be a blessing, but it can also be a danger to us. The danger of individual emotion-driven music is that it often excludes the idea that music is a gift we give.

If I only choose to listen to music that gives me an emotional experience, I miss the opportunity to listen to music that is special to someone else as a gift. I also lose a chance to give the gift of expression to a friend, because I’m not thinking about what would serve them.

This idea can leak into how we view corporate worship. When we attempt to evaluate a worship service by how it affects our emotions, we are treating it like we would a concert. Our goal should be serving others, not being served by music.

Individual music is not inherently bad. But we should evaluate how we treat music, and whether we let our individual preferences trump corporate growth. If I dislike a song that serves the Church because it doesn’t give me a certain emotional reaction, I am making music into my servant rather that being a servant of God and his Church.[1]

So what can we do about this? A good first step is to ask: whom can I serve by learning about their music? I can affirm a culture that is different than mine by affirming what is good about its music, especially if I need to work to enjoy it. This also includes how I sing songs in corporate worship that are not comfortable for me.

If I only listen to music that gives me the emotions that I want, my music will reflect and strengthen only my own emotions and thoughts.But when I sacrifice my own preferences to someone else’s heart music, I have a chance to serve them and express truth that is fuller and deeper than I could ever experience on my own.

[1]See also Harold Best, Music: Through the Eyes of Faith (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), 175-6.

Edith Piaf – Anne’s Earworms Episode 32

I first ran into Edith Piaf at the library in the international music section. I wasn’t expecting great things from the music, I just wanted to hear something different than my normal musical genre. I was shocked.

I started with her beautiful song “La Vie en Rose,” and I was instantly absorbed by her passion she has whenever she sings. She applies a constant energy to her music, whether she’s singing a powerful about having no regrets or a comical song about being haunted by a melody (“Padam, Padam”).
A great place to start is her album Eternelle, although a greatest hits album is also nice. I hope you enjoy a little Edith Piaf as much as I did.

Fly Me to the Moon – Anne’s Earworms Episode 31

I love Tony Bennett’s interpretation of “Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words).” He takes a typically peppy song, and makes it sweet and slow. This reflects the lyrics in a fresh way, transforming the song from the breathless romance in Sinatra’s an Buble’s versions to a soulful serenade. It begins with trepidation, but builds into a passionate plea, maintaining both simplicity and a feeling of completeness.

The orchestra is sparse, complementing Tony’s singing without overpowering it, almost as a duet. It contains a touch of saxophone, and a bit of strings, and a little jazzy piano, each one having a simple, slow part. Tony Bennet takes a typical song and makes it unique, which is truly inspiring for any aspiring cover artist or musician. Enjoy!

Daydream Believer – Anne’s Earworms Episode 30

Thursdays are the longest days. By the time I finish school, my private music lessons, and teaching private lessons, I want nothing more than to go home and sleep. Often, I’m discouraged, and occasionally I’m just hungry.

This Thursday was much the same as many Thursdays. I was tired and ready for home, but the traffic at 5 mostly involved sitting. That’s when I first heard “Daydream Believer.”

The song opens with Davy Jones singing of the troubles of the working person, who must leave fantasies and dreams to go to work. But the songs turns to a celebration of a positive attitude. He chooses to be a daydream believer, who lives life looking forward, rather than dwelling on things that he has to leave or things that he doesn’t have.

This is the way that I want to live. I don’t have to choose between dreaming and living. There are certainly sad things in life, but I don’t want to spend every waking hour dwelling on them and worrying.

Since then, I’ve learned to enjoy the Thursday drive home. Instead of wishing that I was at home, I try to enjoy the time I have sitting. Thursdays are still long, but they don’t have to be discouraging too.

The 12 Days of Christmas (Straight No Chaser) – Anne’s Earworms Episode 29

My dad introduced this song to me several years ago. I love it because it’s clever and unpredictable, but still pleasant to hear. I love A Capella groups, and this adds in an element of fun to a classic holiday song. Enjoy!

The live version:


The non-live version:

Se Tu M’ami – Anne’s Earworms Episode 28

This Italian art song is one of my voice songs for this semester, and my favorite so far. I usually listen to the version by Cecilia Bartoli and Gyorgy Fischer.

“Se Tu M’ami” (“If You Love Me,” in English) is unrequited love from the other side. The singer is being pursued by a shepherd, and she likes him and finds his favor wonderful. She is sorry for his suffering over her, but she doesn’t think that he’s her only option. It’s clever and emotional, and I like listening to the music in another language. Enjoy!



Pompeii (A Harp Cover) – Anne’s Earworms Episode 25

Last week I found Lara Somogyi’s pop covers on harp through Kurt Hugo Schneider’s YouTube channel. I love this song because it is unique and interesting. I don’t listen to much harp music, so Pompeii was a refreshing change. Enjoy!



If you want to hear the original Pompeii, you can listen to it on YouTube here. 

The Top Three from Air for Three – Anne’s Earworms Episode 21

Relient K’s latest album Air for Free has been my online classes jam for the past week or so. These are the songs I would recommend if you listen to nothing else from the album. Here are my top 3 from Air for Free:


Local Construction

I love this song because the analogy is so cool. It compares life to local construction: always working but never finishing. Local Construction helps me to process this feeling better than I did before, and to move past it. The music is awesome, and it builds slowly, giving a mental picture of construction.


This song is just fun. I dance to this song when I’m trying wake myself up in the morning, or in between long study sessions. Listen with caution: it will get stuck in your head for days.


This song is sad but hopeful. The attractive part of this song is the instrumentation. It matches the lyrics beautifully (a common trait in Air for Free), and it’s addicting.

I hope that you enjoyed this list! If you love these songs as much I do, you can check out the album on Amazon here.

Bonus: Here’s an acoustic version of Heartache that Relient K did for CCM Magazine.