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Penny Ferguson Picture

   We were unable to attend the National Quartet Convention this year, so my husband purchased the live internet feed. We watched from home, viewing morning chapels and evening concerts as they were telecast each day. For the artists and others involved in the “business” of gospel music, the NQC is much more than a week-long concert, the opportunity to hear chapel speakers and a chance to meet favorite artists. As a gospel songwriter, I find the event a different experience from the public, even when enjoyed from the comfort of my sofa.
   I thrilled in, and I was thoroughly blessed by, the music. While I enjoyed familiar songs, I paid close attention to new ones, taking particular note of themes, musical and lyrical structures, styles and so on—all of the things of which any songwriter must be aware. But writers of gospel songs are much more than just songwriters and gospel songs are so much more than mere songs. The songs we write are not just catchy tunes on the radio, idly hummed as we go about our day.

   The songs gospel songwriters write have higher purposes. First, and foremost, gospel songs are one of the instruments through which we offer our love, praise, devotion and worship to the God we serve.

   This higher calling of gospel music has been recognized since the earliest recorded songs of praise to our God contained in the Bible, such as “The Song of Moses” found in Exodus 15:1-3:


“I will sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
The Lord is a man of war; The Lord is His name. (NKJV)


   Over and over again, in God’s Word we are shown the example of praising Him in song: “I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30, NKJV). “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises” (Psalm 98:4, NKJV).  In fact, we are not only given examples of people praising God in song but we are told to do so in various places throughout Scripture such as Psalm 149:1:  “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints” (NKJV). We write gospel songs out of obedience to His calling to do so and to use the talents He has given us to offer the Him praise and worship due Him.

   Beyond this most high calling, gospel songs have a two-pronged purpose. The purpose is two-pronged because it reaches two separate groups—the saved and the unsaved. For the unsaved, the gospel song is a clarion call to God’s love, grace, repentance and salvation. In our day and age, a gospel song can often go where a sermon or a Bible is no longer welcome. Even in situations where the Gospel is allowed, it can be unheard because a deaf ear or a blind eye is turned to it, but music penetrates even unreceptive hearts and minds. The truths contained within gospel songs can soften a hardened heart, where a word of witness might be turned away. Gospel songs can reach the lost for God. This is why it is so vitally important that they be soundly Biblically based.

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