Worship Wednesday: “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)”

Today we begin a trek down the CCLI Top 25 songs. Yes, this changes faster than I can review, so we’ll adjust as necessary when things pop in or shift places.

Why review worship songs?  This isn’t an exercise in condemning every contemporary worship song; I’m neither hymns-only nor psalms-only.  But as a friend once put it to me, handing me a song and telling me to sing it is like handing me a prayer book and telling me to pray it.  No!  Give me time to see if this is something I should pray.

This week’s #1 song in CCLI-licensed churches is “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman, reproduced here from AZLyrics.

[Chorus]
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

[Chorus]

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

[Chorus]

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

[Chorus x2]

Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
Lord, I’ll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name

Positive aspects

An observant one will find that the song is replete with scripture references, so much so that I’ve personally led this song following a responsive reading from Psalm 103, which is reflected in the chorus.  Psalm 113 certainly comes into view in the first verse.  In the second verse, Psalm 86:15; 103:8; and 145:8 come into view.  None of the above appear to be drawn out of context by any stretch.

The third verse looks heavenward and gives us a reminder of our eschatological hope.  Do correct me if I’m wrong here, but “ten thousand years” doesn’t appear to be referring to any scripture passage, which isn’t necessarily a red flag, but it does appear that the authors avoid any particular eschatological view, unlike for example “Wish We’d All Been Ready.”  But we do know that we who believe will worship God forever.  Our faith will indeed be turned to sight.

Negative aspects

The chorus may be repeated too many times for some tastes, but I’m not going to ding the authors for this, as I’m concerned more about content unless the style gets in the way significantly or presents a mysticism-level problem. Neither of those are the case here.

If I may nitpick, I think too many of our songs lately have overused the first person singular pronoun. Following the onus of “one another” in Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16, we ought to improve the “we-to-I ratio” in our music.  Furthermore, songs of personal dedication such as this one can run a risk of “self-bragging” within the hearts of individual congregants.  Frankly, though, no song is immune to this.  Guess what?  Every congregant you lead is a sinner.

Integration

Here’s where criticism might be offered not to the authors themselves but more as a warning to worship leaders: there’s no explicit law and gospel here. We might characterize this song as a “God’s attributes” song and a “devotion” song. There’s nothing wrong with that. Even the Psalms do this. But as a matter of principle, as believers in the new covenant, we ought to proclaim the gospel within our worship services. So including this song is fine, but it’s a poor ending song and ought to be placed early in a set where other songs clearly communicate law and gospel*. As an opening song, “10,000 Reasons” works very well.

Given the negative characteristic mentioned concerning the first person singular pronoun, worship leaders are also advised to include other songs within a set that speak to the church’s togetherness as a body. Let me say that in plain English: include this song with some “we” songs.

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