Nancy Kennedy

Nancy Kennedy

If you’re a child of the 1970s or the parent of one you know it’s “hooking up phrases and clauses that balance.”

Most probably you know that because you repeatedly heard the song, “Conjunction Junction,” on a Schoolhouse Rock short animated film during Saturday morning children’s TV programming on ABC. Our brains remember music.

I still remember a song I learned in kindergarten 62 years ago: “Fly away little birdie way up in the sky. Will you tell me, dear birdie, who taught you to fly?”

A recent Christianity Today article headline reads: “Churchgoers May Remember Song Lyrics Over Sermon Quotes: So let’s make sure we’re teaching sound doctrine in worship.”

The author, Jen Wilkin, writes, “By Wednesday, the pastor’s three sermon points are forgotten, but the chorus of the worship song is still being sung, its message repeating in our brains.” She adds, “In an age of widespread biblical and theological illiteracy, worship leaders must choose songs with care.”

For many who will sing them, she says, that’s all the theology they will remember. “Words set to music have a profound formative effect,” she writes. “Any lyric we hear or sing can yield us either well-formed or malformed, depending on the content of that lyric.” Her point: What we sing in church matters.

Years ago as a new Christian, I regularly attended a church where, to me, most of the songs we sang felt like “Jesus is my boyfriend” music, long on emotion, short on substance.

In 2015, the United Methodist Church’s Discipleship Ministries started a project to help worship leaders curate songs that were/are not just popular, but theologically sound. Twice a year they rank the 100 most popular worship songs with the understanding that their doctrine is learned and felt and processed through singing.

From the most current top 50 worship songs, here are snippets of lyrics many churchgoers are singing:

“I believe in God our Father. I believe in Christ the Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit; our God is three in one.”

“Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness; my God, that is who You are.”

“Who breaks the power of sin and darkness? Whose love is mighty and so much stronger? The King of glory, the King above all kings.”

“This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save; ‘Til on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied. For every sin on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ I live.”

“It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life; I know that it is finished.”

“Savior, He can move the mountains; my God is mighty to save...He rose and conquered the grave.”

“You’re never gonna let, You’re never gonna let me down…’cause You are good, good, oh, oh.”

“Father of kindness, You have poured out Your grace; You brought me out of darkness; You have filled me with peace.”

“What a powerful name it is...the name of Jesus Christ, my King. What a powerful name it is, nothing can stand against...the name of Jesus.”

“Your promise still stands, great is Your faithfulness; I’m still in Your hands, this is my confidence: You’ve never failed me yet.”

“All my life You have been faithful; all my life You have been so, so good. With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God.

“Now this gospel truth of old shall not kneel, shall not faint. By his blood and in His name, in His freedom I am free. For the love of Jesus Christ, who has resurrected me.”

Let us sing!

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria — I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing” and “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at

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