Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless the name of the LORD;
proclaim God’s salvation from day to day.
Declare God’s glory among the nations and God’s wonders among all peoples.
NB: As always, anything good here is for God’s glory, but this one I would like to dedicate also to my father’s memory, Thomas Johnson (1916-2001), and to honour my mother, Elisabet Johnson, who is still very much alive and making music for God’s praise with her life, as well as with her piano. Thanks, Mom!
One of the many gifts my parents gave me was a love of singing, and a recognition that song, at its best (another word on that in a moment), is both a gift from God and our gift to God. “At its best” simply means that we do our best, such that, even if we might think we can’t carry a tune in a bucket, we still lift our voices and “make a joyful noise to God.” (See Ps. 66:1; 95:1,2; 98:4,6; 100:1), and if perhaps we have been blessed with more musical ability then we use that also, to the best of our ability, for the praise of God. But, most especially, we seek to make a song of praise of our lives and of our life together.
Part of our family life as I was growing up was family devotions, and not just once a day, but twice a day! As I look back on that now, I am very grateful to my Mom and Dad for that discipline, although as a six year old I wasn’t always 100% thrilled every single time. After breakfast and again after the evening meal my Dad would read from the Bible – if he wasn’t at work, in which case Mom read – and then a devotional reading from a book, after which we prayed together. In the evening we also sang together as a family; for a long time our tradition was to learn a new hymn every week so that, at the end of every week, we could literally “sing to the Lord a new song.”
My folks had ordered a pump organ from Germany, which eventually, after a long sea voyage, arrived at our home in Madang, in what was then Australian Territory of New Guinea. My mother would play that organ with gusto and we would all sing. I learned the beauty and wonder of joining with the heavens and the earth, with field and forest, in rejoicing before God the Creator in song, of not only listening for the music of the spheres but helping to make it.
Sadly for the organ the local termites made their own kind of music, and it wasn’t joyful. It was a dreadful dirge they made, a relentless death march of chomp, chomp, chomp; it was nothing short of constant warfare. My mother tells me that she lost the war with the termites over the organ, and eventually the poor thing succumbed, and was silenced. But not before we used it for years in making a joyful noise to God, singing to the Lord a new song!
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea thunder and all that is in it;
let the field be joyful and all that is therein.
Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy at your coming, O LORD,
for you come to judge the earth.
You will judge the world with righteousness
and the peoples with your truth.
We are all invited into this song of the cosmos, this universal hymn of praise in which the creation itself participates. Our worship together is part of this glorious chorus of praise, in which we join with the whole universe of every age, with all people and all creatures not only in this age but through all the ages, with all the angelic hosts of heaven, as well as with the mighty choir of all the saints who have gone before. With voice, yes, but also with heart and mind and spirit, and with all we do and say, knowing what we do of the immense and immeasurable love of God in Christ Jesus crucified and risen, how can we not join the song?
Thanks be to God!