Think of your favorite song…
Why is it your favorite? What kind of memories does that song bring along with it every time you hear it? Music has a way of creating and capturing moments in fewer words and simpler methods than any story teller could ever hope to do in their writing. Songs have an awesome way of conveying messages to sometimes unaware listeners that will stick with them longer than any sermon they will ever hear.
Thinking about the level of comfort that comes along with “old” and familiar songs makes me wonder why in Scripture we are commanded to sing “new” songs unto the Lord and not “old” or familiar songs. In fact, three Psalms start with the words, “sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalms 96, 98, and 149). Isaiah 42:10 says:
Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.
Why such the emphasis on singing a “new” song… won’t any song of praise work?
Nowhere in Scripture do we find a command to sing “familiar” songs to the Lord… because we do that anyways. Human beings are creatures of comfort and we don’t need to be reminded to do things that we love. Does anyone have to tell you to drink your favorite refreshment or partake in your favorite activity? No! We enjoy that particular refreshment or activity and we naturally gravitate towards it. Singing and worship works in the same way. If we aren’t careful we can get stuck doing the same things and singing the same songs over and over again until they become bland or ritualistic. The Lord desires a “new” song and because of that desire we are reminded over and over again through Scripture.
Other than the Biblical commandment to do so, why is singing “new” songs essential to healthy corporate worship?
- It creates a “freshness” in our worship.
Have you ever been in a rut? It’s a bad feeling that many of us know all too well. By devoting ourselves to finding, learning, and singing new songs we can help fight against ruts in our corporate worship lives. We have already established that songs capture times, moments, and memories within themselves and hopefully as we mature and advance in our walk with Christ we feel the need to create new memories and moments. New songs can capture new seasons of our church bodies lives and speak to particular situations that are around us currently. We all have those particular “go-to” songs that our congregations just love and have grasped on to, but I would like to encourage you to not go-to those songs so often. God presents new mercy and grace everyday and because of that we should offer up new praise and worship. With new songs comes a freshness in worship. I know that it is easier said than done, but a new song a month or every other week is a good way to get your congregations searching, learning, and seeking new music as well as creating new memories and moments that they will get to relive forever when they hear those particular songs.
- It provides opportunity for an expansion of our worship vocabulary and library.
How many of us can quote more songs word-for-word than Bible passages? Unfortunately, I know that I can. Songs are memorable and contagious. We hear them, learn them, and memorize them without much effort. By continually playing the same songs we are just feeding that behavior and those words eventually begin to not carry as much weight as before. By introducing new songs we are introducing new material for our congregations to learn and think about without even meaning to! Let’s put new words, thoughts, and phrases in their minds to enable them to worship in new ways, with new words! I catch myself throughout the day humming or singing a particular section of a song without meaning to and I know that I am not alone. As worship pastors, leaders, and teams we should have a desire to place as much Biblical and Godly content into the heads of those around us as possible. What that ultimately comes down to is learning new songs. Let’s put forth an effort to finding solid songs and to teaching them to our congregations so that their worship libraries can be expanded for those times when their minds drift to musical content. Music is widely available everywhere and ultimately we want them worshipping Jesus and not Bieber… so we need to give them songs new songs to sing.
- It causes us to put forth effort.
In the end, it is just easier to sing old and comfortable songs. It comes natural. But, we serve a God who shows us new mercy and grace everyday and provides a way for us to worship and be creative. If we are going to be good stewards of the abilities the Lord has given us then we need to put forth some effort in our worship. Our eternities in Heaven are going to be spent singing praises to our God, and I’d like to imagine that those praises aren’t going to consist of “Amazing Grace” 1,000,000,000 times… Let’s begin to live our eternities now and praise our God in new and fresh ways. It will take effort, but I promise it’ll be worth it.
Let’s take the challenge together to sing new songs!
I don’t want you leaving this blog thinking there is no place for familiarity because that is not the point at all. To be applicable I will state that I never do more than one new song a week and typically play a single new song two weeks in a row before introducing anything else. But… every church is different and you are the best judge for your particular situation. In the end, we should be singing new songs with songs that we already know and love. God has given us memories of the past for a reason, but we are also made new in His love daily and we should celebrate that with new praise unto Him!