Saturday, July 12, 2014

A New Song: Triplets of Praise

As we saw last week, the waltz is a special song because of its rhythmic structure based on three beats, reminding me of the triune nature of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No matter what the rhythm, however, God wants us to sing a new song to Him, and His Word describes that new song in triplets of praise. God designed us in His image for His good pleasure, including our voices (Exodus 15:1,21), ears (Exodus 10:2), and musical abilities (Genesis 4:21) to resonate freely to His glory.

Six Psalms (33, 40, 96, 98, 144, 149) command us to sing a new song to the Lord. That song is to be accompanied by a harp, psaltery and instrument of ten strings (Psalm 33:2-3; 144:9); or with the harp, trumpets and cornet (Psalm 98:1,5,6); or with the dance, timbrel and harp (Psalm 149:1,3). Three types of instruments specifically mentioned are therefore stringed instruments (including the psaltery), brass instruments (trumpets and cornet), and percussion instruments (timbrel, which is like a tambourine).

The new song therefore may be sung with the voice, played on instruments, or danced. It may be played skilfully with a loud noise (Psalm 33:3), be poetic as a psalm, or just be a joyful noise. Everyone, regardless of musical ability, is to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, by making a loud noise, rejoicing, and singing praise (Psalm 98:4-5).

Not only is this new song of praise for all the inhabitants of the earth to sing (Psalm 96:1), but for all creation! Even the sea should roar, the floods clap their hands, and the hills be joyful together (Psalm 98:7-8).

Why should I praise the Lord? Because He bent toward me, heard my cry of distress, and brought me up out of the horrible pit of destruction. He set my feet upon the Rock of His sure Foundation, He kept me out of trouble, and He put a new song in my mouth (Psalm 40:1-3). God is praiseworthy for the marvelous things He has done, for the victory He has won, and for saving us through His Son. He alone has the attributes of righteousness, mercy and truth (Psalm 98:1-3).

What will happen if I sing that new song of praise? Many shall see it (experience our witness of being born again), and fear (realize they are sinners deserving eternal punishment in hell) and shall trust in the Lord (place their faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven). (Psalm 40:1-3; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:3-8; 14:6). By singing unto the Lord, we bless His name; show His salvation; and declare His glory (Psalm 96:1-3).

Music that honors God is a way to witness to the unsaved (Psalm 98:2), as well as to encourage other believers and to worship God (Psalm 149:1-2). To uplift fellow Christians, to elevate our own spirits and to commune with God, we should speak to one another, to ourselves, and to God in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19).

Even though classic hymns containing Scripture may not be “new songs,” we can sing them anew, listening for nuances and creating inflections that emphasize how the hymn now applies to our own life. God’s Word in song is as much a two-edged sword as it is when it is spoken (Psalm 149:6; Hebrews 4:12). What a wonderful way to rebuke the devil and have him flee from us! (Matthew 4:10-11; James 4:7).

In my music ministry, I try to sing a variety of good music, including not only standard hymns and contemporary Christian songs but also “new songs,” or classic secular tunes for which I have rewritten the lyrics (link to video), hoping to engage those whose hearts may be softened by the melody to respond to the Christian message. This is also the focus of our dance ministry, where we use music and dance to bring Good News to a largely secular audience.

There are three verses (Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9; 14:3) referring to the new song of praise that is fit only for the Redeemer, the Lamb Who was slain, and the King of Kings eternally on His throne. One of these is prophesied in Isaiah, foretelling the inhabitants of all the new earth singing the praise of Christ the King in the new Millennium (Isaiah 42:9-12).

The other two verses picture the Revelation of Jesus Christ in all His glory. The singers of the new song will be the four beasts and four and twenty elders (Revelation 5:8) and the 144,000 redeemed male virgins (Revelation 14:3-4). The 144,000 witnesses will sing with a voice like many waters, like a great thunder, and like the sound of harp music (Revelation 14:2).

The four beasts repeat “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8). Each of the three words “holy” refers to a different member of the Trinity, identified as “Lord” (Christ Jesus), “God” (the Father), and “Almighty” (the Holy Spirit) Who empowers the divine plan (Genesis 1:2; Luke 1:35).

Why is Jesus Christ alone worthy of the praise in this new song? Because He was slain; He redeemed us with His shed blood; and He made believers from every nation to be kings and priests to reign with Him (Revelation 5:10).

When should we sing new songs to the Lord? Not only in the future when we worship Him in glory, or when we praise Him publicly in church or elsewhere, but even privately at home, singing aloud upon our beds before we rise in the morning or fall asleep at night! (Psalm 149:5-6). Praise God that all who have trusted Him as Lord and Savior can sing the new song of the redeemed (Psalm 71:23; Isaiah 51:11), for we are a new creation in Him! Even if you can’t carry a tune, lift up your whole being in new songs to His glory!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Back in the 1970s I used to own a cassette tape titled "Scripture in Song" and they were a collection of Scripture verses from the KJV Bible which were put to music. The great advantage of this was that these songs were easily remembered and provided a gateway to greater Bible knowledge. Even to this day, more than thirty years later, I can still sing these songs, although the tape itself has long warn out and it's no longer playable.
In your linked video you show another good talent other than dancing. Keep up the good work!
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
That's a great idea for helping to memorize Scripture verses, even (and maybe especially) for children in AWANA and similar Bible study programs. I remember my mother telling me that she took a course in classical music, and as a mnemonic device, they sang the title of the song, the work it came from, and the composer to the melody of the piece. The one that stuck in my mind was "Barcarolle/ from Tales of Hoffmann/ written by Offenbach" -- if you know the melody, you'll see what I mean!
Thanks for your informative comment and for your kind words about the video!
God bless,

Jen said...

Oh such a beautiful parallel between the waltz and the trinity! May we always dance in perfect step and harmony with Him! Blessings, Jen

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Jen, for your lovely comment! May we always follow His perfect lead in this dance of life. May you have a blessed week in Him,

a joyful noise said...

I love your posts that deal with music, songs and dance. May we all sing a new song, even new words from our spirit flowing out to our God. Thank you for sharing your lovely post with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” At:

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Hazel, for your sweet comment & for hosting! Amen -- may we sing His praises in new song and words!
Love in Christ,

Donald Fishgrab said...

There are a couple of things about the way modern music ministries work that bother me. first, as you point out every Christian is to sing to the Lord. yet in many settings only professionals or specially gifted people sing and everyone else is just to listen. Secondly, there is a tendency to focus on a catchy chorus or phrase adn neglect the main message of the song, I didn't even know the song He is lord had verses for several years, yet they explain why he is Lord. By skipping them, people miss the most important part of the song.

Laurie Collett said...

I agree with your thoughts about music ministry, Donald. Congregational singing should not be omitted, because that way every Christian can sing to the Lord, even if they are just making a joyful noise. On the other hand, I have been in some services where congregational singing just seems to go on and on long past the point where people are genuinely worshiping. I think it is honoring the Lord to have talented believers sing or play special music, but I disagree with the practice oof paying professionals to sing, especially if they are not even believers. There is also an unfortunate tendency in some music ministries for cliques to form, with specials given only to the favorites while other talented members never have this opportunity. And I wholeheartedly agree that lyrics should be theologically sound and rich. Therefore, I like old hymns and dislike "7-11" songs (7 words, repeated 11 times).
Thanks as always for your comment & God bless,

Crafts a la Mode said...

Thanks, Laurie, for linking up your lovely blog to the party. Blessings, Linda

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Linda, for your sweet comment & for hosting!
Blessings to you,