Sing to Him a New Song!

During the Christmas season, our congregation was blessed with many gifts of music. 20159955 One week stood out above all the others.  A young college student returned for vacation and offered to play his marimba while his friend joined him on flute. 

Since it was the Christmas season, these two extraordinary musicians did a medley of Christmas carols.  They were original compositions–arrangements that kept the basic melody but with embellishments and lilting lines that made you know you were in the presence of incredible musical gifting. 

I can remember listening and my heart wanted to jump out of my chest while my mind excitedly thought, “I may never again be allowed to hear anything this gloriously beautiful!”

Interestingly, my reaction was not shared by all who were listening.  22860490 Some were disturbed that anyone would “mess” with the traditional melody of “Away in the Manger”  or “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” 

Rather than being awed and grateful to be in the presence of such rare and precious gifts, some were angered and felt this “new” music was robbing God of the honor due His name. It sounded too “jazzy” and certainly not traditional.

Since that day I have been grieving over how we as the church have allowed ourselves to crawl into the deep trenches of “Worship Wars.”  We are deciding what we think God would like to hear and then climbing into camps lobbing verbal grenades at those who do not agree with us. We are willing to fight to the last breath with brothers and sisters with heels dug in–convinced that God only likes to hear what we like to hear.

Scripture seemed to speak to the war zone atmosphere as I began the day reading Psalm 33.  One verse jumped out as though it had been bold printed. The simplicity of the words seemed to clear the smoke of confusion and brought clarity.

“Sing to Him a new song;”

Is it possible that the Psalmist knows our inclination to fall in love with the sound of the “old” songs and to forget who we are singing to?

If I repeated the exact same words with the exact same tones to my husband day after day and year after year would he begin to doubt my sincere affection?

Could it be that the psalmist is encouraging the incorporation of the “new” as a protection for our hearts becoming cold and disengaged? 

Does he want our affection for God not to grow stale and mundane in expression?

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Good people, cheer GOD!

Right-living people sound best when praising.

Use guitars to reinforce your Hallelujahs!

Play His praise on a grand piano!

Invent your own new song to Him;

give Him a trumpet fanfare.”  

Psalm 33:1-3, The Message

Wonder what the psalmist thinks about clapping in worship?

5 Replies to “Sing to Him a New Song!”

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  2. With you, I too was thrilled to get a second opportunity to hear more musical offering on Christmas Eve! It may have been my favorite Christmas Eve.

    I am reading “How Shall We Worship?” by Marva Dawn and she is helping me stand in the shoes of others who are not so quick to embrace “newness” in worship. She reminds me that we are in a culture that worships everything that is new and is willing to throw out older more traditional forms with little thought about what might be lost.

    She is right in identifying that we can hardly escape being idolatrous, for our society has created us to be consumers. To look at everything with an eye that asks, “will this please me…do I like this?” My heart’s desire is to resist making my personal preferences the thing that is worshipped but to remain open to fresh winds that blow through the church to help congregants stand amazed with wonder and awe at our God! Like you, I am so grateful we have had tastes of that–glimpses of glory in worship this past year.

    I am pondering Marva’s question even more now. “Can we learn instead to be a Body of diverse people, learning from each other’s music how to praise God more fully?

  3. Lissa,
    Thank-you for highlighting this wonderful music. I have loved watching this gifted muscian grow up at Crestwood. I was very disappointed when I did not see this young man’s name on the concert prior to the 11:00 PM Christmas Eve service. But was overjoyed when he stood up and played. I still talk about that concert. To hear you sing one of my favorite hymns was a gift. The cello and piano duet left me w/ goosebumps. The oboe solo was hauntingly beautiful, as all oboe pieces are! All in all this was a gift to all of us who came to worship the arrival of our Lord! Even though I know the gifts were being presented to the Lord.
    It is a shame that people cannot get past the status quo and enjoy a “New Song” in worship.

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