In Sunday’s worship at Crievewood Baptist Church Nashville where I have been serving as interim worship & music minister for the past year the choir sang an anthem, On Wings of Song and Prayer.  The piece was commissioned by the music ministry of First Baptist Church Nashville in remembrance of Fes Robertson, longtime music editor and consultant with the Baptist Sunday School Board (now Lifeway Christian Resources).  The anthem lyric was penned by Dr. Terry York and the music was composed by Mary McDonald.  It has been recorded by the Tennessee Mens Chorale on their Sing and Be Not Silent CD (pardon the shameless promotion).  I appreciate the anthem’s attempt to address something of the mystery of worship in community.  It would be far too easy for such a rich text, well-set, to be lost on the average Sunday morning search for self-inspiration.  In a real sense, however, it is precisely that movement beyond self that the anthem seeks to take the worshiper.  And that is, after all, the point in worship is it not?  Yesterday’s singing, and my listening once again to the 2005 recording has prompted my thinking and personal worship to revisit the mysterious truth of the work of the Holy Spirit among His people in worship, as “uniting our hearts within a song, the Spirit with us sings!” The anthem repeatedly calls us into trust that our worship rises “on wings of song and prayer,” and reminds us “the Spirit takes us where our words alone cannot go.”  We projected lyrics and called the congregation’s attention to aid their contemplation of the Spirit at work among us.


Baptist theologian Stanley Grenz reminds us, “although Christ institutes the church, the Spirit constitutes it.”[1]  Far too often our worship ignores the work among us of the Holy Spirit, upon Whom we are totally dependent lest our gatherings are but sounding gongs and clanging cymbals.  Our divisions over peripheral issues related to the worship environment most likely disclose our ignorance of the very matter and sole power source of primary importance.  Grenz also reminds us that God saves us for community, not out of it.  Granted this dynamic is contrary to our fiercely individualistic bent, but it provides all the more evidence how we are reliant upon the Lord to bring us into fellowship with the Triune God and with His people, the church.


Remember, worship moves us toward our eschatological end for the sake of God’s glory!  We participate now in that fundamental purpose.  Ours is a unique part, different from the rest of creation (Ps 19:1; Ps 47:1), such that the rest of creation waits upon us to get it right (Rom 8:18-30; Eph 1) and we take joy to become trophies of His grace (Eph 2:6-7).  Our hearts set toward our eternal trajectory should surely leap for joy when reading of the worship that awaits as seen in Revelation 4 and 5.


In our gatherings for remembrance, re-membering, and future-gazing, let us remain in Christ and trust the Spirit to lift our worship “on wings of song and prayer.”


God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit antruth.

–John 4:24

[1] Stanley Grenz, Created for Community: Connecting Christian Belief with Christian Living, 214.

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship


  1. Michael Valentine Says:

    This is one of my all time favorite choral anthems ever! Such a beautiful piece of music!

    • Terry York Says:

      Thank you Paul. My heart was warmed by your interpretation. Thanks to you, too, Michael.
      Terry York

      • Terry, your gift for grasping spiritual truth and crafting words that convey it is a very special gift. I am prodded often to deeper thinking and challenged to more grateful living as a result.

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