Give praise to our God and sing a new song, amid all the saints God’s praises prolong; a song to your Maker and Ruler now raise, all children of Zion, rejoice and give praise.
2 With timbrel and harp and joyful acclaim, with gladness and mirth, we praise your great name; for now in your people your pleasure you seek, with robes of salvation adorning the meek.
3 In glory exult, you saints of the Word; with songs in the night high praises accord; go forth in God’s service, be strong in God’s might to conquer all evil and stand for the right.
4 For this is God’s word: the saints shall not fail, but over the earth the humble prevail; all rulers and nations shall yield to their sway. To God give the glory; sing praises for aye.
public domain. Tune Laudate Dominum You can hear the tune here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAsXLYk2XjQ
A song of victory.
What else should we sing on a Sunday but a song of victory. It is the day when Jesus was raised from the grave; when all the fragility of the world lost any hold it had over creation. God’s power, sovereignty, grace, and mercy completely won out as death itself was conquered forever. All that humanity fears, defeated.
However, our hymn—a paraphrase of a song of Israel—has not completely lost the agency of humanity in this victory. There is a rumour of the affirmation found in the psalm of the capacity of humanity to be part of the fight and to overcome adversaries. If the apostle Paul was right, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8.31), then why not? Why does humanity not take some credit for God’s victory?
It is tempting ground. When we look around us and see what humanity has achieved, giving God all the glory feels a little like we are undervaluing ourselves. But the taking credit for good could and has easily slipped into the legitimisation of bad. The waging of war in the name of God.
If we truly believe in the Good News, then we cannot escape the entwinement of our purpose and actions with those of the Divine. If we are going forth in God’s service, then it should be by the strength of God’s might that we conquer. Yet to do so means to surrender to God’s will; to let go of power, want, and need. It is the acceptance that although death no longer should cause us to fear, it will still happen to us all.
A song of victory that is and can only ever be God’s.
All glory to you, O God, we give. With melody and rhythm we praise you. A song of victory is on our lips for you are mighty and powerful, nothing stands in your way.
Forgive us when try to take the credit, make your way ours. Forgive us when we call on your strength to claim our desires.
Humble us, Maker and Ruler. Save us and re-robe us. For in Jesus is the victory. Amen
The Rev’d Dr Elaine Colechin, Minister, Bromley United Reformed Church and St Mark’s United Church, Greenwich