Special thanks to Stephen Davies
Did you know “Amazing Grace” can be sung to the tune of “Gilligan’s Island” or “House of the Rising Sun?” Old Hymn writers sometimes used other melodies even those used in local taverns to make it easier for people to recognize and sing their hymns. Imagine that? Some of our most popular hymns used melodies sung in a bar.
Speaking of bar tunes, many years ago, my aspiring writer and musician son, Stephen, age 13, asked me to listen to his favorite style of music: rap. I listened carefully… and honestly told him I didn’t like it but then I challenged him. “Why don’t you write a Christian rap song and sing it for our church?”
Why did I say that? Our church was a typical country church which sang mostly hymns written over one hundred years ago. How would these precious people respond to a rap? Oh well. Why worry? My son would never write a Christian rap song and he certainly would never sing it in church would he? Oh, yes he would. He wrote that song within a week and so I fulfilled my part of the promise and one Sunday he stood before our entire congregation and sang or rapped, “Stand Up for the Lord.”
After the service was over, young people surrounded Stephen to eagerly tell him it was the best song they ever heard in church. Others asked for the words. At this point, I figured it would be smart to take another look at Stephen Davies rap for Jesus: “Stand Up for the Lord.”
Take it to the top, not just another Christian rappin’
Here to tell you what’s really happenin
All this violence in the streets, I don’t want to hear it
It’s time that the people got the fever for the spirit.
He gave us our life and He gave us our choice
But we are the youth and we’ve got the voice
For serving Christ is a price we can all afford
C’mon yall, Oh yeah, stand up for the Lord.
As I read the words, the message coming from a youthful perspective really hits home. Stephen was clearly pointing out world wide problems and urging Christians to action. “All this violence in the streets… It’s time that the people got the fever of the spirit.” But more importantly, my son saw the relationship and the choice Christ offers us all, even today: “He gave us our life and He gave us our choice.” Stephen declared that our youth do have a voice and we should, “Stand up for the Lord.”
Think twice about the way you live your life
You don’t go to heaven or hell with a roll of the dice
Jesus Christ loves everyone and all
Just think of his grief when he feels us fall
Out of his hands, into the devil’s deed
And by him dying on the cross we were all freed
We’re just sparks and God is the fire
The one and only God-preacher, teacher, Messiah
I know you wanna, You know you wanna, So why ain’t you gonna?
Okay, okay so it’s not a classic hymn but when Stephen stood before our church and sang all of us old people mostly stared but I noticed that the youngsters began nodding their heads in rhythm with the beat and by the smile on their faces you knew they were enjoying and understanding the message.
Stephen said something simple but profound in the second verse: “Think twice about the way you live your life. You don’t go to heaven or hell with a roll of the dice.” In other words there is a real God who celebrates our joys and grieves over our failures. “Just think of his grief when he feels us fall.” My favorite line in the song however, is this one: “We’re just sparks and God is the fire.” What a wonderful way to describe our mission as Christians. “I know you wanna. So why ain’t you gonna?”
C’mon, let’s stand up for the Lord.
Makin’ controversial music and pullin’ the money
But after a little while, you just ain’t funny
Just give your life to the Lord
The person who all your life you’ve ignored
The world is full of crime and sin
Don’t ya think it’s about time we let the Lord in?
You’ll see the light if you open the door
C’mon ya’ll, Oh yeah, stand up for the Lord.
Stephen takes a satirical poke at musicians in this verse: “Makin controversial music and pullin’ the money,” accurately describes the state of our music industry today. Eventually however, you soon find the money and attention is never enough. “You just ain’t funny.” My son once again emphasizes another solution, another way. “Just give your life to the Lord… Don’t ya think it’s about time we let the Lord in?”
Stand up, Stand up, Sit down, Psyche
Too busy preachin’ the word on the mic
He’s got the whole world in His hands
But some people just don’t understand
Believe in the Lord and you’ll find out
That he’ll put joy in your life and there’s no doubt
That followin’ Jesus never leaves you bored
C’mon y’all, Oh yeah, stand up for the Lord.
Music is a tool but a wonderful tool used for expressing our deep love for God. No generation should ever claim to know which music is proper. After all, one generation’s barroom melody could soon be another’s sacred hymn. We need to learn to value all styles of music knowing that if you respect and appreciate my music… you also respect and appreciate me. “C’mon y’all, Oh yeah, stand up for the Lord.”
Main point: Music is a tool but a wonderful tool used for expressing our deep love for God. No generation should ever claim to know which music is proper. After all, one generation’s barroom melody could soon be another’s sacred hymn.
Questions to Help Share the Light:
- How does music help you draw closer to God?
- How can music help you talk to someone else about God?
- How can your church use a wider variety of music styles to express their worship of God?
- “C’mon y’all, Oh yeah, stand up for the Lord.”