This Sunday, we sang a new song. I almost squealed with joy.
The song was Psalm 145 by The Modern Post. I’ve been listening to this song privately for about three years, and it’s among my favorite. What I love about it is simple: it’s, by and large, Scripture. A few lines were tweaked to make it singable, of course. That’s a given. But if you open your Bible and compare the lyrics, you’ll find them pretty close.
This was my first time singing the song alongside other people. Normally when it’s playing, I’m in my car and no one is around to hear me (badly) accompanying Dustin Kensrue. But I couldn’t help givin’ it all I had when I realized what we were going to be singing. In fact, if I were the hand-raising type, they’d have been up like I just didn’t care.
I spent some time Sunday evening considering what it is about this song that I appreciate so much—what it is about singing Scripture that is different than any other song. Here are a few brief observations:
You’re singing something meant for corporate worship
I know—this is a landmine. But here’s the thing. A number of the songs I’ve heard by Christian artists are actually pretty good. They are well-written and performed, and certainly have an authenticity to them. But few of them seem right for corporate worship. Whether it’s the content is so tied to their personal experience, or it’s just that it’s written for one type of voice, I can’t say. (Maybe it’s just an opinion thing.) Regardless, many of the Psalms were intended for corporate use. So when you sing one, there shouldn’t be any hesitation on the part of the congregation (aside from learning the tune).
You’re singing the best theology
Songs don’t complex theology to be great, but they do need sound theology to be of maximum benefit in a corporate setting. I can’t imagine better theology than that which comes from Scripture. This sort of theology doesn’t rest on our personal preferences or convictions, but on God’s inspiration. The words he gave us. So it’s more than just singing about God as good or as loving generally. You have something specific—Yahweh is worthy of all our praise because “He upholds the one who is stumbling,
lifting up those burdened with heavy loads.”
And if someone complains about the theology of a song that comes directly from Scripture, well…
The Holy Spirit is working in you through your praise
There is nothing the Holy Spirit works through as definitively and powerfully as Scripture. And when I sing words like those I just quoted, or “Great is Yahweh full with compassion, slow to anger filled with unfailing love” I find that I’m being reminded of the ways God has been compassionate to me. How he has shown me over and over again his unfailing love. How he has held me up when I’ve stumbled, and kept me from despair when burdened beyond what I can bear. It elevates my praise to something more than singing—it connects. It sharpens me. It shapes my thinking as I give praise because the Spirit brings to mind all the ways God has acted in these ways on my behalf.
In all of this, please don’t hear me as saying there’s only one kind of song or one kind of style. I’m all for lots of options. I think we should avail ourselves of all that God has provided. And this includes the songs God inspired. Whether personally or corporately, we need these songs, too. I’m so glad our church got to enjoy this one. I can’t wait to do it again.
Photo via Visual Hunt