SoF 859 David Ruis 1991
This song has a thousand different aspects on account of its simplicity. It’s a declaration song – and that gives it a power when we sing it in the face of trial or suffering. Those first words, echoed in affirmation, have a simple melody, only intensifying the sense that we choose to sing this song. It begins with ‘I’, takes the starting point of the individual’s decision, their ‘will’ to worship. Worship is always a decision – it cannot simply be an action.
How shall I worship? ‘With all of my heart.’ Having first declared that at the time we’re singing and in the future I individually choose to honour God with adoration and praise and service, I then state aloud for my family to hear that I will do it whole-heartedly. We’re choosing Jesus’ way: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ [Matthew 22:37, quoting Deuteronomy 6:5].
The repeating melody creates a parallel between the first line, ‘I will worship’ and the fifth, ‘I will seek you’, implying an equality between them. To worship God is to seek God – to seek first the Kingdom of God is to give him his rightful place as Lord of all, to seek his face is an act of love and adoration. And the promise to do this ‘All of my days’ echoes God’s promises to act in our lifetime, but also serves to remind us that our promise binds us to a daily life of small actions of worship – that today is as vital as the first or last in this life-marathon of worship.
I like the part ‘I will follow all of your ways’. For me I hear, ‘I will walk and travel to the places that you go’ as well as ‘I will seek to understand how you do things’ and ‘I will try to learn to copy your manner of going about life’.
The song is very clearly voiced in the first person, but it doesn’t have to be an isolating declaration. No, rather when we sing it together we become aware of the great purpose we share with people around us, different to us, and all of creation. Each person and each thing can sing, in their own voice, ‘I will worship’.
When you want to emphasise the corporate side of this, simply switch pronouns! ‘We will worship with all of our hearts… We will praise you with all of our strength.’ No problem with rhythm or rhyme.
You can’t argue with this song. It isn’t sung to people and it can’t be sung to anything less than an awesome, all-powerful God, someone whom we will ‘give everything’, ‘serve’, ‘hail’ and ‘trust’. When in the chorus we declare again why we live and what we’re doing – ‘I wil give You all my worship, I will give you all my praise’ we have to admit that this is what we long to do and what we live to do. I believe that all people and all created things deeply desire to worship God in an unashamed, honest, free relationship of love, gratitude and adoration. As we grow in Christian faith, that desire and longing seeps out from the the core our being where it may have lain dormant for a long, long time. But out it comes and we find that singing, dancing, and acting in ways that glorify our Father in heaven become more and more delightful, more and more purposeful. We should grow in it all our lives.
And the truth is that we can still sing this song in Heaven. We can still sing that ‘You alone are worthy of my praise.’
Practically, in congregation, this song is a great starter, but the family have to be ready to sing it. It’s very difficult to mean it if you’ve only just woken up, and it’s a hard song to sing well softly. It can be done – particularly the chorus, sung on a loop, with just voices or a minimal instrumentation. It can be an excellent expression of our desire to honour God as we leave the gathered church, or a quiet way to prepare to leave in silence after a late-night offering of praise. It does do very well as an acappella piece because of it’s simplicity, as well as the call-and-response structure. This is about the heart of worship, not the instruments or the expression, but about the will, the decision, the voice and the desire for God. Whether that desire roars like a furnace or glimmers clearly like a candle flame, we can sing this song and mean every word.