Search Adorate

1000 Tongues 10,000 Reasons

Charles Wesley’s joyous hymn has endured for well over two hundred years.  “O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer's praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace!”  Each stanza pours out new causes for worship: He bids our sorrows cease. He breaks the power of sin. He brings life to the dead. 

The words reflect both Wesley’s skill as a hymn writer and the depth of his own immersion in the Bible.  It is theologically rich. 
Consider just one phrase in more detail: “He breaks the power of canceled sin.”

Think about what Wesley is saying.  Sin has been canceled, yet still holds power that must be broken.  In theological terms, Christians have been fully justified but live now in the ongoing process of sanctification.  Forgiveness, alone, is not enough.  We are also celebrating the joyful holiness of having sin’s power over our hearts and minds shattered by grace.

The title song of Matt Redman’s newest album, “10,000 Reasons,” is a twenty-first century expression of the same overflowing praise as Wesley’s hymn.  The lyrics are steeped in biblical phrases and reflections.  “Bless the Lord, O my soul. Worship His holy name.” “You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger. Your name is great and Your heart is kind.”

Redman, like Wesley, has produced an impressive number of songs.  While 75 is less than 6,000, Redman’s songs do include composing music for each song, making band arrangements, and, making the recordings that share them with the broader church.  And, anyway, Charles had a lifetime and Matt is still in his thirties.  As for calling the church to greater depth, Redman, as his book Unquenchable Worshipper illustrates, has focused on challenging believers to worship that is informed, authentic and costly.

Maybe one day we’ll all be standing around in heaven, and someone will say, “Hey, Charles, how about one of those great hymns you wrote.”  Another person will chime in, “But I’m really more into contemporary.  Matt, why don’t you get some people together and we’ll show these old Methodists how to dance to the Lord.” 

“Did you say dance?” a voice in the crowd will ask.  Then, a kid steps out.  He puts aside his shepherd’s staff and pulls out a small instrument that looks like a little portable harp with a lot less strings.  And then David says, “All right, here’s an oldie but goodie…”

Listen closely and you might eventually hear it.  Listen behind the melody.  Focus your listening to hear it hiding behind the harmony.  Keep listening.  Listen so intensely the notes and harmonics fade out until you can begin to hear the heartbeats of the men and women making the music.  And then you’ll know.  You’ll hear it.  It spite of all the changes in melodies and rhythms and musical scales and styles…you'll hear it and you'll know.  It’s all the same.  It’s the same one ongoing song of praise.  Over and over and over.  Generation after generation.

Now, listen even closer.  Keep listening.  Do you hear it?  Hear that little echo just behind all those beating human hearts joined in century after century of praise?  Did you hear it?  That, my friend, is the music of the angels.

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.” [from 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman]

Watch Matt Redman discussing his new album, 10,000 Reasons:

Also, check out

(sorry, Charles Wesley doesn’t seem to have posted his own web site yet.)

1 comment:

Kirra said...

Great post. It's so inspiring. Throughout time, worship music has changed, but it all comes back to the same thing.