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Chuck Fromm

The Five Words of Worship provides a filter to view worship songs  through and aid you in preparing a balanced worship service. Here’s a  helpful guide to assessing which word of worship best describes a song.  (Of course there are many songs and psalms that include all of the words  in varying combinations, but usually one is predominant.) 

Is it intimate and relational? Abba


Abba is a worship word of Aramaic origin that, like Hallelujah, has  also been adopted by every nation, people and tongue in the global  community of believers. 

Abba means, literally, “the Father,” but there is a common  misunderstanding that gives it the more informal emphasis, roughly  translated as “Daddy.” Indeed, in the modern Hebrew spoken throughout  Israel, Abba has been adopted from Aramaic to mean just that. But in New  Testament times, and in the original Aramaic spoken by Jesus, Abba was  not used offhandedly. While children addressed their fathers as Abba,  they did so not only to express deep emotion, warmth and intimacy, but  also to convey dignity and respect. Abba, then, should more properly be  translated as “Dear Father.”  

Aramaic was, of course, the language of Jesus’ own childhood, his  true mother tongue. He also spoke Hebrew, as dictated by the religious  requirements of the time, as well as Greek, which was the speech of  everyday commerce.  

But it was Aramaic, the language of His hearth and home, to which  Jesus resorted to cry out to His heavenly Father in His moment of deepest  spiritual anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mk 14:36). It was here that  Jesus fell to the ground and cried out to God, “Abba, Father, all things are  possible with You. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not my will  but Thine be done.” 

It was, of course, only natural, in every sense of the word, that the  Messiah, at this moment of agony, should call out to His Father in His  mother tongue, the language he learned as a boy. The renowned German  scholar Jeremias observed that, in Gethsemane, “we hear the personal  accent of Jesus.” 

The use of the title Abba by Jesus offers a matchless insight into  the word’s significance in worship. The Son of God cries out for release,  yet submits to God’s perfect will. The eternal significance of His act of  submission, of the deep trust and of familial relationship it embodied, is  summed up in the simple eloquence of Abba. 

To call the God of heaven, as Jesus did, Abba is to address the  creator of the universe in intimate terms and was unusually daring in light  of Hebrew tradition. In Old Testament times, the Hebrew people knew  that God was their Father and that they were His children. They often  employed names rooted in the Hebrew word for father: “ab.” But, except  on those infrequent occasions when the prophets of Israel would dare to  address God so familiarly (Is. 64:8), they rarely invoked God’s fatherhood  in prayer. 

Yet, this is the way Jesus instructed us to speak to The Father, each  as beloved members of His family, and the relationship suggested by  Abba is found regularly in the prayers of Jesus. John 17, for example,  often called “The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus,” begins with the word  “Father.” In verse 11 Jesus addresses His “Holy Father,” and again in  verse 25 with “0 Righteous Father!” 

Our liberty to speak to God as Abba is especially evident in the prayer  Jesus gives as a model to His people in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. “Our  Father who art in heaven,” he begins, “hallowed be Thy name,” and by  the word “hallowed” we are cautioned against cheapening the blessed  term Father. With this instruction, Jesus is telling us that, because He  refers to God as Father, so may we. We bear the family name and, as  members of the family, we may speak to the Father using the same terms  as His Son, Jesus.  

There are two other instances in the New Testament where Abba  appears: Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. In both passages, it is clear  that by the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to join the Savior in calling  God “Abba.” 

Paul states in Galatians, “And because you are sons, God has sent  forth the spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’”  Again, in Romans, he declares, “For you did not receive a spirit of bondage  again to fear but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,  ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are  the children of God.” 

It is the message of Gethsemane underscored. The suffering of this  present world is likened to the suffering of Jesus in Gethsemane; but with  Him we are able to declare Abba! The suffering of Jesus has given us the  right to call God our Father. 








1) I Could Sing of Your Love Forever Martin Smith SD5

2) Draw Me Close Kelly Carpenter SD27

3) Breathe Marie Barnett SD22

4) I Love You Lord Laurie Klein SD44

5) Breathe on Me Natalie Grant SD52

6) Friend of God Israel Houghton/Michael Gungor SD49

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