During the Christmas season, our congregation was blessed with many gifts of music. 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. 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?
“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?