New songs, and Harold Best on singing (5)

This “Monday Music” blogpost will deal more with the concepts than specific song lyrics, although I’ll also include some of the latter.

Singing is not an option for the Christian.  No one is excused.  Vocal skill is not a criterion.  (Harold Best, Unceasing Worship, 145)

A thousand times, yes.  I cannot relate to the feelings of those who can’t match pitches and have no sense of musical confluence whatsoever.  But I can’t believe that God wants anyone to exclude himself from singing.  I’ve seen way too many saints disinterested in the experience.  Perhaps this has not been entirely the fault of these individuals.  Churches, and leaders within churches, need to do all we can to encourage all to sing.

We are to sing “to the Lord”  These three simple words … make it clear that singing is above all an act of worship, an offering to the Lord and not to people.  …  Performers should understand that their performance is directed to God while people listen in, not the opposite.  …

We can sing a truly new song only once, and thereafter we repeat it. …  Singing a song newly means that we must sing the thousdandth repetition as if for the first time. (145‑6)

I spent a few years in churches in which  “The New Song” was a popular choice.  I always thought it was rather a shallow attraction that caused folks to shoot up their hands and beg for that song on special singing nights.  The song is in my opinion ill-conceived, and it gratuitously includes musical elements designed to tickle the fancy, as opposed to raising the level of consciousness of God or even of heaven.  Furthermore, “The New Song” was only about singing a new song, about singing to God.  Its text is in this regard secondary–it speaks of something but doesn’t actually do that something.  There are better expressions:

“Sing a new song to the Lord; praise His name, for the Lord is good”

“Let men their songs employ”

“Sing on, ye joyful pilgrims”

“Sing praise to God who reigns above, the God of all creation”

“Sing ‘alleluia’ to the Lord”

“Sing the wondrous love of Jesus”

“Sing the song of Moses and the Lamb”

“Sing with all the sons of glory–sing the resurrection song”

~ ~ ~

If you’re interested in further thoughts on new congregational songs, please read this post. And if there are helpful ideas on the teaching of new congregational songs, please share them!


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