For the past two weeks I've been driving up to Mt. Airy, North Carolina, each morning to work with Grace Moravian Church. As I make my way north, I find myself flipping through radio stations and not recognizing a lot of the songs I hear. I also find myself longing to hear songs I know, as they are ones I can sing along to, and that remind me of a person, a particular time in my life or a feeling.
I don't just want to hear familiar tunes on the radio; every Christmas Eve or Good Friday lovefeast, I am moved and reconnected to God's faithfulness through the singing of certain hymns, such as "Christ the Lord, the Lord Most Glorious", "Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand", and "Sing Hallelujah, Praise the Lord". Those are the songs of "my people", so-to-speak, and the ones I love to hear.
Recently I've also been thinking about songs thanks to the birds outside our house at 5 am. I love spring and Easter and rebirth, but that early in the morning, I sometimes wish the birds would quiet down or, at the very least, pick a few new notes to repeat.
Which brings me to Singing a New Song, and the many verses in the Bible about doing so.
Psalm 96:1: Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.…
Isaiah 42:10: Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them.
Psalm 98:1: Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:4: Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music...
There's not much mention of singing old songs in the Bible. It's human nature to repeat the familiar, to love what we already know, so we need reminders to sing something new...and lots of them, apparently! I'll admit I often sing the same old songs....whether literally or through my actions. I participate in the same activities at church, or give the same amount I gave the year before, or go through the motions without really thinking about the meaning behind them and why I'm doing what I'm doing. I fail to see what's around me and to appreciate God's abundant grace, so I just keep repeating the familiar refrains.
Psalm 40 says:
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
God hears the Psalmist, rescues him, and gives him a new song to sing, which makes sense if you think about it. New songs of praise and gratitude are appropriate for new rescues and fresh manifestations of grace. God blesses us with the beauty of creation every day; why wouldn't we sing something new in return? He's gracious towards us every day so rather than sing the old songs inspired by the past, we sing new ones.
Forever God will continue to “show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7), and as he does, for his glory and for our joy, we will keep singing new songs.
What new songs are you singing this spring? How can we as a church sing a new song to show God our gratitude for His grace and generosity?