Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. (NIV)
Christians are among the few groups on society who regularly sing when they get together. No other groups seem to do it as part of their gathering. Since Christians are different, they tend to prefer to sing different songs. The phrase “worship wars” might be familiar to some churchgoers as a description of the battle between those who like the old hymns and those who like the new songs.
At first glance this Psalm seems to give support to those preferring contemporary music. We are to sing a new song after all. However, the Psalmist wasn’t really making a statement about whether the organ or percussion should accompany songs. He was describing the need for us to respond to God in fresh ways that reflect our ongoing experience of him. A new song can be an ancient chant if it is sung with a refreshed heart which has encountered God again. Conversely, the very latest song sung out of bored routine can be a very old song indeed.
God doesn’t have musical prejudices. He has enjoyed Gregorian chants, Wesleyan hymns, and charismatic choruses. As long as they spring from hearts and wills intent on giving him honour in word and act. As long as they do proclaim what he has done so as to give others a glimpse of his greatness. Any song that does that is good enough for him. Any song that does that is a new song in that it arises out of an ongoing encounter with God and gives a renewed invitation to the world to come home to its maker.
Our new songs tell the old, old story from changed hearts to a changing world.