by Rick Pidcock
Have you ever had the opportunity to experience worship in a completely different cultural context than the one that you are most comfortable with? And by different culture, I mean more than just music style, I’m also talking about language, and even time.
Some of you might say, “Yes! My church still worships as if they are in the 1600’s!”
Revelation 15:3 says, “And the sing the song of Moses, the servant of God.” These are worshipers, thousands of years after Moses, worshiping God with a worship song that is much older than the hymns that many of our churches sing today.
So, I began to wonder, “What if we sang the same song that was sung thousands of years ago, in a different style and language?” What would that look like? Could the same song, in different cultures, communicate the same thing about God? Or would the different setting bring out an entirely new vision of God?
Below are two recordings of the ancient hymn, “Phos Hilaron: Hail the Gladdening Light,” which dates back to 290-310 A.D. The music in the first recording is Byzantine, even though the hymn text dates even further back than Gregorian chant.
The second recording is a recently released version by the David Crowder Band, in their album “Church Music.”
After you’re initially blown away by the difference in style, ask yourself these questions:
What does the first version cause you to reflect on God about?
What does the second version cause you to reflect on God about?
What do you get more of in one than in the other?
Do either of them seem to be missing something that the other does quite well?
What different emotions do each of these versions produce within you?
Does listening to both of them give you a more complete appreciation for the character of God, and the power of the gospel across language, time, and style? If so, how? If not, why not?