1 Sing to the LORD, sing praise in a new song; Sing to him all who to the earth belong! 2 Sing to the LORD and praise his holy name; From day to day his saving work proclaim. 3 His glory to the nations now declare; His mighty deeds to people everywhere.
4 Great is the LORD, most worthy of all praise; Above all gods he’s to be feared always. 5 For all the nations’ gods are of no worth, Whereas the LORD set heav’n above the earth. 6 Majestic splendour is before his face— Both strength and glory in his holy place.
7 O praise the LORD, you nations, every tribe, Both strength and glory to the LORD ascribe. 8 Give to the LORD the glory that is due; Come to his courts and bring a gift with you. 9 Worship the LORD in his great holiness; Tremble with fear, all earth, before his face.
10 Throughout the nations say, “The LORD God reigns!” The world stands firm, for ever it remains; The LORD will judge the peoples righteously. 11 Let heav’n and earth rejoice exceedingly; Let seas and all their life with praise resound; 12 Let fields and all in them with joy abound.
Then all the trees will give a joyful cry, The forest sing before the LORD Most High. The whole creation will break out in mirth 13 Because he comes, the judge of all the earth. He’ll judge the world in perfect righteousness, And all the peoples in his faithfulness.
This can be sung to the tune Yorkshire-Stockport (Christians Awake, Salute the Happy Morn) which can be heard hereor to Orlando Gibbon’s Song I which can be heardhere.
New song? New song? You’ve got to be joking. As the resident minister with a hymn-writing and musical background it was hard enough to introduce new songs but as an itinerant worship leader it’s even more difficult.
“Oh, we don’t know that one”. (Intake of breath) “Oh, they won’t like that one” “ Not another Scottish, Tongan, New Zealand, American (etc) song”
As congregations we can be very resistant to new songs and hymns as their words and their music take us out of our comfort zone and into frightening new territory. We often soften the blow by using an old tune to new words but some hymn writers like Shirley Murray and Brian Wren go the whole hog and commission new tunes too. In for a penny… If we see new song as a metaphor for new ideas, new ways of being, new ways of relating to others and new ways of being what God has called us to be then the challenge is clear.
Once we pluck up the courage to sing a new song this Psalm shows us that the whole earth can open up to our senses. The focus of our worship is a Strong Glorious God and keywords are joy, praise and rejoicing; not scepticism, fear and uncertainty. It is not about how well we can sing or follow a tune or even how quickly we can read words it’s about recognising that all creation will laugh out loud with joy because God is in and over all. And that includes us!
God’s saving work is a new song. Heaven and earth rejoicing is a new song. The fields, forests and fishes sing a new song. So let’s try some new songs for ourselves. Our new voices may yet surprise us.
As we travel we do like our familiar things around us. The old songs keep us feeling safe and reassured. Give us courage to sing the new songs you want us to learn. Sing to us each the song of creation and redemption that will lift us from mediocrity into the vaults of heaven. Help us to hum along, keep time and stay in tune for yours is the glory and the power for ever.Amen
The Rev’d Carole Elphick is a retired minister and member of Muswell HIll URC.