Of course, the first shingle for worship is the Gospel. Christ crucified for us for the forgiveness of sins. As we unpackage this in relationship to the "worship wars", Dr. Gibbs pointed out that "the corporate worship of the congregation must be set in the right story." Too often, worshippers and worship leaders center worship on their personal story, their personal experience of faith. But while the Divine Service does return us to our baptisms and so does indeed personally renew our faith, the narrative of the service is not about Christ-in-us, but about Christ-for-us that we may be in Christ.
What does this mean for the church's song? It means that our music should not be primarily about self-expression, but about Christ-expression. In other words, worship is not simply a confession of our own personal experience of Christ, but rather a confession of the whole story of God's salvation of mankind.
This obviously norms the texts we choose, but it also shapes the kind of music we make to support those texts.
Does your music proclaim the "reign of God"? Does it bring the comfort of Christ being with your hearers "always, even to the end of the age"? Sure, we all love to share music that has been meaningful to us. And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, we draw inspiration from such music and it helps us in our craft. But are we making music that is meaningful to others?
I submit that the craft of the liturgical musician is to manifest "Christ-for-us" through the music proclaimed to and sung by the assembly, making music that has been personally meaningful an inspiration to others in Christ AND taking music that has not inspired us and discovering how to make it meaningful to all.
Whether one plays the organ, directs a choir, or leads a liturgical consort of guitar, flute, and bass, this is where our musicianship lies.
Too often, traditional Lutheran musicians shy away from the personal and lose that vital artistic connection with the musical spirit that inspired them to play and sing in the first place. And, far too often as well, contemporary musicians will not discipline themselves to make music for the assembly, rather than just for themselves.