Review of the NIV Worship Together Bible

When I signed up for the Booksneeze program, I figured I’d be reading and reviewing all kinds of books, but it turns out that the kind of book I tend to get again and again are Bibles. This works out well for me; as I mentioned in an earlier post, my mom used to give me a Bible every year, and since we’re only a few weeks from my birthday, I was happy to receive another one from Booksneeze to review.

This Bible is called the NIV Worship Together Bible. The tagline of the book says “Discover Scripture through Classic & Contemporary Music”. I was especially happy to review this particular Bible, as its theme of music and worship ties in very well with the mission of this site.

When you take the book cover off, the book itself looks like a standard hardcover cook or pew Bible. In fact, the cover only reads “New International Version” and “Holy Bible”–there’s no indication on the cover that it’s a special kind of Bible. As such, it’s definitely a Bible that’s appropriate not just for personal worship, but also for buying for use in a church or a small group setting.

As usual with my Bible reviews, this review won’t review the actual Bible nor the translation, but instead it’ll focus on the special features that make this Bible unique. The “Bible” portion of the Worship Together Bible is a fairly standard NIV Bible, with books, chapters, and verses arranged in the usual way and NIV footnotes on the bottom. The paper is thin and an off-white color.

The highlight of the book is that every 40-60 pages or so there are two pages dedicated to a popular worship song, complete with full lyrics, the verse that inspired it, a “behind the song” story/devotional about how the song came to be written, and even a “Selah” call-out that gives you short, practical advice to use in your personal or group worship.

While the devotionals are well-written and provide some fascinating insight behind the writing of some of 50 modern praise and worship songs, the one thing that struck me is that it just felt kind of incongruous. Each song seems to be placed almost randomly within the Bible, so that there’s not really a connection between what you’re reading. For example, the Chris Tomlin song “Holy Is the Lord” was inspired by the books of Isaiah and Nehemiah, but for some reason it’s placed in the middle of 1 Kings. The story of the praise song “Happy Day”, inspired by the events of Matthew 28 inexplicably appears in Isaiah.

At the end of the book, they do have full lyrics and chords for 20 of the praise songs highlighted in the Bible. This is a great feature to have, especially when using the Bible in conjunction with a praise session. But the obvious question I had is, why limit it to only 20 songs?

There’s also an original article by the author at the end of the book that talks about the history of worship music. It’s a well-written article, but in many ways also felt a bit out of place, as if it was something I’d think of reading on a Web site or a magazine as opposed to a Bible.

There’s also a “Table of Weights and Measures” which also seems kind of random, as if they just had to fill up one more page.

Overall I like the idea of the NIV Worship Together Bible, but I’m not so sure I’m crazy about the execution. It feels like either a Bible with a small worship music book thrown in, or a small worship music book with a Bible built in. Both are definitely solid on their own, but putting them together didn’t really add much to either.

I almost would have rather seen the song lyrics and devotionals in a separate book, with a lot more commentary and deeper history of the use of music in worship, a more full set of lyrics with chords and even sheet music, a wider selection of praise songs and hymns, and some practical advice for worship leaders that talks about how to lead worship services. On the flip side, I wouldn’t have minded seeing it in Bible form if it more closely tied together themes in songs and hymns with themes in the Bible.

Despite its flaws, as someone who spends a lot of time with Christian music, I did appreciate the insights that the history and devotionals offered from the original artists. If you’re a praise and worship leader and happen to need an NIV Bible, this is just as good an option as any.

Here’s a full list of the songs highlighted in this Bible. Names with asterisks mean that the chords are included as well.

Blessed Be Your Name *
You Never Let Go *
Give Us Clean Hands
O Lord, You’re Beautiful
The Heart of Worship *
God of Wonders
Sing Sing Sing
Better Is One Day *
How Great Thou Art
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) *
Thy Word
Our God *
Forever *
He Is Exalted
How Great Is Our God
Indescribable *
All Creatures of Our God and King
Your Name
Jesus Paid It All
Open the Eyes of My Heart *
Holy Is the Lord *
Forever Reign
Everlasting God *
Beautiful One
From the Inside Out *
Beautiful Things
The Stand
Mighty to Save *
Hosanna (Praise is Rising)
Happy Day
The Wonderful Cross (When I Survey the Wondrous Cross) *
You Are My King (Amazing Love) *
Glory to God Forever
Christ Is Risen
Jesus Messiah
Your Grace Is Enough
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us *
Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)
Give Thanks
Here I Am to Worship *
Be Thou My Vision
In Christ Alone *
Sing to the Lord
How He Loves *
Revelation Song *
We Fall Down
Soon and Very Soon

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”