“Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Even though this passage hangs on the walls of millions of Christian homes, it has inspired relatively few songs. Perhaps this is because the extended passage from which it comes is more complicated than the catch phrase we quote. The full passage talks about the Israelites delivery from slavery, putting away idols, and the jealousy of God. Ultimately, the passage speaks of covenant.
I went through a lot of song possibilities, but rejected them all: This Holy Covenant Was Made (almost right, but ultimately went with a different opening hymn), I Have Decided to Follow Jesus (gets at the “choose this day” theme, but Reformed people get squeamish about “decisions for Jesus”), I Bind Myself (I liked the covenantal/binding connection, but have never warmed to the song itself), Jesus Call Us, O’er the Tumult or I Place Myself in Jesus’ Hands (I like extending Joshua’s covenant to our relationship with Jesus, but still not quite right), Who Is on the Lord’s Side (fits the scripture perfectly, but tacky melody), Arlo Guthrie’s Which Side Are You On? (fits “choose this day” perfectly, but I couldn’t see us singing, “Which side are you on, boys? Which side are you on?”).
What is a picky music planner to do?
Given that there was no low-hanging fruit, ripe for the picking (musically speaking), I decided to go with the broader themes of the day. We start with The God of Abraham Praise, reminding us of our covenantal roots. Psalm 78: People of the Lord encourages us to tell the goodness of God from generation to generation. In communion we sing of the “Steadfast Love of the Lord” and remember that we don’t bring anything to the covenantal bargaining table, but come “Just As I am.”
As Jack often reminds me, the music doesn’t need to re-preach the sermon. This Sunday’s music certainly doesn’t do that. While the service doesn’t have the kinds of scriptural, thematic, and musical connections that geek me out, it is still a faithful singing of story of the Gospel.
And that’s what we’re called to do, right?