Sing A New Song

April 17, 1997

Psalm 98:1,4-5 – O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.

The importance of music means that if the church wants to reach out to new communities, new people, new generations, it must use (get ready now…) new music. When I was a child, most Protestant churches sang hymns such as "Onward, Christian Soldiers." Our own denomination is keeping it, by the way, in the new hymn book, though a bit changed, while others, such as the United Church in Canada, have now retired this hymn. While it remains of historical and sentimental interest, its militant theme and imagery are not considered the best theology today, and our hymns are one of the critical places we express our theology — what we believe to be true about God. What this means for some old-timers is that some of their favourite hymns are disappearing, even some of mine. Precisely because of the power of music, we miss those hymns. Something feels like it is "missing" for them in the church.

On the other hand, most young people today have not been raised in churches, or have not made the old hymns their own by choice. I ask you to talk to young people about the place of music in their lives. For them, music is everything. They, too, find music to be the place where their soul is expressed. However, it is a different music. It is a music almost never heard in church. No wonder many young people are not here, either! But the Christian music for youth today is awesome, powerful, provocative, and could add so very much to their worship experience if only allowed by an older generation who sometimes greedily hold on to their own music and leave little room for the new.

Prayer: Lord, we praise you for the new song given each generation. Let us lift up our songs before you that you may bless them to the cause of Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Kenn Stright <kennethstright@yahoo.ca>
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

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