Remember the worship staple “Hungry” (I’m falling on my knees/Offering all of me/Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for)? Singer/songwriter/worship leader Kathryn Scott wrote that song. In addition, through the years, Kathryn has also co-written songs recorded by Brian Doerksen and Paul Baloche, among others. The prolific songwriter currently leads worship at a church in Northern Ireland where she and her husband, Alan, serve as senior pastors. Today, we are honored to have Kathryn guest blogging for us! Although worship music continues to evolve, she shares the importance of savoring the old alongside the new.
It was the summer of 1979. I stood on the muddy grass, dressed in pajamas and little Wellington boots, between our trailer and the large tent where my mum was the soloist for evangelistic meetings we toured the U.K. with each year. Every evening the crowd was led in an appeal for salvation, and as hundreds responded with their “yes” to Jesus, the meeting would finish with the hymn “Just As I Am.” I was only four years old, but still remember the impact of hearing that melody and those words… I was undone. I couldn’t understand why I was crying when I didn’t feel sad. That was my first encounter with the presence of Jesus in worship. Ever since, my heart has been completely hooked, not so much on the music, but on the presence of Jesus.
Music is only ever the vehicle; carrying hearts from where they happen to find themselves in any given season or moment right into the throne room of Heaven again — where all gets set straight and put back into place. Jesus is the center. As The Message so beautifully puts it, “everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels — everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him” (Colossians 1:17). Music is the vehicle, but Jesus and His presence are everything — the reason, the object, the goal and the delight.
There have certainly been many changes in worship writing over the years; the last 40 in particular. I always loved singing awe-inspiring hymns about God, but then to be given the language of intimate conversation with the same King who so captivated me — that took my journey in worship to depths I had no idea were available. I could not be more grateful.
One of the things I love; however, being a songwriter and a senior pastor, a worship leader and a teacher, is this — we need the old just as much as we need the new. Especially now that the pendulum has firmly swung to the “intimate,” where we can engage with the Lord in such a tangible heart-to-heart way, the old hymns are an even richer heritage. If we fill our worship sets only with our songs of response and conversation, we will be left to fill in the blanks about who God is and how He moves. But that is not up for grabs in the realm of our imagination. The character of God is solid; it is unshifting truth that blows fresh wind into the sails of our souls and changes the trajectory of broken lives. We need to sing songs that declare God’s character and the wonder of His ways. We need the poetry of years ago as well as the fresh breath of today’s songs.
As for the future of worship, that remains unchanged. It has always been solely wrapped in the person and presence of Jesus, regardless of the music we choose to write or sing. One day every knee will bow…
Kathryn releases her brand-new EP, Sing on the Battlefield, this week! The album will be available on iTunes tomorrow, and she’ll be chatting with fans live on her Facebook page and Twitter account tomorrow (Sept. 9) at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST. For more info, visit www.kathrynscott.org.