I’ve read a lot of books about music, but I’ve never appreciated one any more than I did Douglas Sean O’Donnell‘s new book God’s Lyrics. What distinguishes it from so many other books and sermons on the topic is that it’s so intentionally biblical. Sure, we all think we’re being biblical when we talk about music. We quote a verse on worldliness, for example, then make what we believe are unavoidable applications. But we too often depart from actual exposition of Scripture to rely instead on cultural arguments, slippery slope arguments, and the like.
O’Donnell, on the other hand, depends on actual data, not only from CCLI and popular hymns (which is helpful), but from actual Bible songs. (Remember those? The inspired songs?) He unpacks the songs in Exodus 15, Deuteronomy 32, Judges 5, 1 Samuel 2, 2 Samuel 22, Habakkuk 3 (while alluding to others in Psalms, Luke, New Testament epistles, and Revelation), then makes those songs the standard by which he measures modern songs. His conclusions are helpful, if discouraging. But his approach? Well, if he’s not careful he just might help put the doctrine of sola scriptura back into the music debate.
You can find some hymns Doug wrote based on his Old Testament texts here.