“Lex orandi, lex credendi” is a Latin phrase often used in the Catholic Church which loosely means: As we pray, so we believe. Some even add a “lex vivendi” onto the phrase so that the phrase expands to: how we pray, so we believe, so we live.” If you think about it, this is absolutely true. The words we say, how we imagine God, the questions we ask and the praises we share in our prayers all show what we believe and how we live our lives. Do we address our prayers to a compassionate, gracious God? Then that will probably effect the way we see and understand God and ultimately it will probably effect how we treat others. Do we often ask hard questions in our prayers? Then we probably understand God to be big enough to handle our complex lives and we can better live into the gray areas of faith. Do we often attribute our joys in life to God in our prayers? Then we are more likely to see God’s hand at work in our lives. It is a very fascinating idea.
Now I think this concept doesn’t just apply to how we pray, but also could be extended to how we worship. And for me this includes music and singing. The words we sing are deeply theological and for this reason I think we could easily say: As we sing, so we believe.
My favorite hymn of all time is Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. The first time I realized how important this hymn was to me was at a Church of the Brethren Annual Conference I attended in high school. When we got to the final verse, I realized what this song meant: “Praise to the Lord, oh, let all that is in me adore him! All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him! Let the ‘amen’ sound from God’s people again; gladly forever adore him.” Hearing this sung by thousands of people gave me a glimpse of the coming kingdom of God where the sound of praises to God fill the room as it is sung by the multitudes. This was a hymn that Pastor Tim and I later decided we would sing at the beginning of our wedding so we could remember that even our wedding was a time of worship. The hymn has continued to remind me that every moment is a time for worship and praise.
Pastor Tim and I know how important music is to this congregation, so we’ve decided to do a fun worship series this summer. We are calling it “as we sing, so we believe” and we are inviting everyone in the congregation to be a part. Beginning in the middle of April everyone in the congregation will have an opportunity to nominate and vote on their most favorite hymns and songs of faith. Anyone can nominate any hymn or song of faith, from any genre or hymn book, that has been most important to them. And on Music Sunday in May, we’ll compile the list of nominated hymns/songs and each person will have a chance to vote on two hymns/songs from this list. Once we have all the votes, we’ll pick the top ten favorites and we’ll use each of these in our ten week, “As we sing, so we believe,” series. So the hymns and songs that end up a part of the top ten are completely up to you!
You’ve got a few weeks to consider what songs and hymns of faith have been most foundational or you and have changed your faith. Thumb through a hymnal, listen to some music on the radio, think back to your childhood. And maybe in the process of finding your favorite hymns and songs, you’ll learn a little bit more about your own faith and what you believe.