His praises resound in us – the new temple!

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“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous.” (Psalm 118:14-15)

The New Testament doesn’t talk a great deal about the use of music in the gathering of God’s people – but what it does say is very clear. Singing the Word of Christ together is designed to build up, teach and encourage one another, while declaring the praises of Him who loves us. In fact our praises are a really important part of God’s plan for the new temple. Let me explain.

Psalm 118 (and so many more) describes the Temple of God as the place from which our praises and blessings towards God should come. But when Jesus turns up to this earthy temple (Mark 11:1-12:12) there is no praise coming from this place. Herod’s fancy bricks and mortar monstrosity is the seat of money making and exploitation. This place is wrong; this temple building in Jerusalem is not functioning as the house of God. So where is the true temple? How can such a place of praise be established to the Glory of God?

The answer is Jesus.
Jesus went through suffering, pain, rejection – the Cross. In doing this he established the true temple, where true worshippers will praise his holy name. Where is this true temple? Well, it is found in us! We are God’s holy temple (1 Peter 1:5-6,9 1 Peter 1:4-5, 9-10)
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…. you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Worship happens not in one tiny location in far off Israel to the exclusion of all other people. Now under new Management, Jesus’ temple is wherever his people are. His people will bring a prayer for the nations and praise for God’s holy name. We are His people, God’s true temple. What a privilege to be part of the true house of our holy God. He lives within and among us; he inspires us to prayer and praise. When we praise Him together we fulfil Psalm 118: People from all nations praying for the nations. We are to be people who pray without ceasing, people who praise his wonderful name. Pray and praise must sound and resound from our Christian communities and individuals. Does that describe you? does that describe us?

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (NLT)

In 1 Corinthians 3:16 the Corinthian church needed Paul to remind them many times about the danger of division amongst God’s people. Paul speaks boldly here, explaining that as a Body of believers, WE ARE the temple of God where He dwells. He lives in us! He no longer chooses to reveal himself and meet with people in an earthly building (as he had done in the past, in Solomon’s temple, God’s house). Now he LIVES in us together. He reveals Himself in us. He has put His Spirit in us, collectively. This echoes the words of Peter (1 Peter 2:5): “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Peter sees that genuine resounding praise can only come from this new spiritual temple – us! So how important it is for God’s people to major on authentic, true, fresh and relevant praise in our gatherings.

For more on this:
https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2012/09/06/stones-or-bricks-god-lives-in-us-together-1-corinthians-316/

https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2013/08/14/10-principles-for-church-singing/

In all honesty: Tim Keller Praying your tears

Tim Keller Praying your tears
This is a great encouragement.
(Link reference at the end)

I’d like to tell you about two great talks I listened to recently: Praying our Tears and Praying our Fears by Tim Keller. They’re both free online, and are part of a series on the Psalms about responding to our feelings. Today I’ll tell you about the one on tears; next time, the one on fears.

I love the Psalms! It seems that every emotion I’ve ever felt is expressed there, ready to be prayed to God. Sometimes I feel like getting older is just working through the Psalms, one emotion at a time!

There’s no better guide to what to do with our feelings before God than the Psalms. I like Tim Keller’s way of putting it: that the Psalms teach us a gospel third way of responding to our emotions.

1. Many Christians are uncomfortable with feelings, so we deny and suppress them.
2. The world tells us that we need toacknowledge, express and follow our feelings, so we vent and dump them.
3. The Psalms give us a gospel third way of responding to our emotions: to pray our feelings.

But what about suffering? How do we pray our tears? How do we use them to soften, rather than harden our hearts? Here’s what Keller says. I’ve included a few quotes: they’re wonderful, so take the time to read them. I know they’ll live on in my heart and mind for a long time.

1. Expect tears
I’m often surprised when I suffer. Isn’t God good? Isn’t he supposed to protect me? What have I done to deserve this?! But I should expect to suffer more as I become more like Jesus. If I don’t expect tears, I’ll always be crying about two things instead of one. “You’re weeping about the thing that made you weep, and you’re weeping about the weeping …. You’re going to sink under that. Once thing at a time is all we can take.”

2. Invest your tears
“Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” (Ps 126:5-6). If a farmer leaves his seed in the shed, or dumps it all in one spot, there will be no harvest: he must sow his seed. We shouldn’t deny or dump our tears, but see them as an opportunity for growth. Tears give way to joy (Ps 30:5) but they also produce joy (2 Cor 4:17). So how do we plant our tears?

3. Pray your tears
When we pour our tears into prayer, it transforms both the tears and the weeper. We should plant our tears in three things.

a. A realisation of God’s grace.
We need to know before we start crying that it’s safe to pour out our hearts to God. That’s why the Bible includes disturbing psalms like Psalm 39, which ends “get away from me, God!” Derek Kidner says,

The very presence of such prayers in the Scripture is a witness to God’s understanding. He knows how we speak when we are desperate. … Psalm 39 shows where your deepest feelings – your anger, your tears – belong. … Ultimately where your tears belong is not managed or packaged or manicured in some little confessional prayerThey belong in pre-reflective outbursts from the depths of your being in the very presence of God. … “I want you to speak and feel in my presence. It’s safe. I understand what it’s like to be desperate. … I’m a God of grace. I understand.”

b. A vision of the cross.
God understands our desperation because Jesus experienced desolation. Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and found heaven empty, so that when we cry “Turn your face away!” God won’t abandon us (Ps 39:13,Matt 27:46).

When I look to the cross, I can suffer withoutguilt, for I know God isn’t punishing me because Jesus was punished instead of me. I can suffer without impatience, for I can trust that God’s purposes are good even when I don’t understand, just like people didn’t understand the cross. I can suffer without self-pity:

Weeping is fine. Weeping and grief is fine. Weeping and disappointment is fine … but weeping in self-pity will make you a small little person, someone who can’t forgive, someone who is always feeling ill-used, someone who gets incredibly touchy and incredibly over-sensitive. … Look at the cross and say, “… My sufferings are nothing compared to yours. If you suffered for me I can be patient with this suffering for you.”

c. An assurance of his glory.
All sorrow ends in joy (Ps 126:6). The final psalms are all psalms of joy. But how does a prayer of tears become a prayer of joy? Eugene Peterson says,

What the psalms are teaching us is that all true prayer pursued far enough will become praise. Any prayer, no matter how desperate its origin, no matter how angry and fearful the experience it traverses, will become praise. It does not always get there quickly. It does not always get there easily. In fact, the trip can take a lifetime! But the end is always praise. This is not to say that other kinds of prayer are inferior to praise, but that all prayer pursued far enough becomes praise. Don’t rush it. Don’t try to push it. It may take years, it may take decades before certain prayers arrive at the hallelujahs of Psalm 150Not every prayer is capped off with praise. In fact most prayers, if the psalms are a true guide, are not. But prayer is always reaching toward praise, and if pursued far enough, will arrive there.

Sometimes we’re afraid to weep because we think we’ll never stop weeping. But if we know that sorrow ends in joy – that sorrow producesjoy – we can dare to weep. Tim Keller asks, are you happy enough to be a weeper? – to get involved in the lives of others even when it’s painful? If so, there will be a harvest of joy for them and you.

He prays, “Father, make us happy enough to weep.” Amen.

images are from Chapendra, IRRI Images and Jacopo Cossater from flickr

http://jeaninallhonesty.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/tim-keller-praying-your-tears.html?m=1

God rejoices in his loving initiatives

rejoiceI’ve recently been studying the amazing covenant promises of God and tracing them through his Word (as part of my external studies with Moore College, a subject called Promise to Fulfilment). While reading that famous passage about God establishing relationship with us and writing his law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-36) I was reminded of a less famous but equally gracious promise located nearby. Here it is:

“They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”
(Jeremiah 32:38-41 NIV)

These verses have been highlighted in my old NIV bible for a long time. The passage contains so many elements of grace and blessings unimaginable! God is the one who ‘inspires us to fear him’ and gives us ‘singleness of heart and action’. Our faith is a gift; the Spirit is a gift that enables us to follow him and secures our relationship with him. God gives this and does this because it brings him pleasure; he rejoices in doing good to us. We can rejoice that he has ‘assuredly planted’ us in Christ, in his growing family of believers, the Church. We have a home in heaven that Christ is preparing for us. None of this is down to us, to our own making. God graciously provided our salvation and he rejoices in it. How could we do anything else?

Don’t let the Word be strange – the Psalms included

psalms-59-16I had the privilege of leading music at a women’s conference in Brisbane last month, a conference called “Dazzled by Grace”. The speaker was Kathleen Nielson, head of women’s initiatives at the Gospel Coalition (USA). Her focus across three talks was how to read the Psalms in a way that allows us to drink deeply the beauty, poetry and truth they contain.
First she spent some time defining the Psalms, as:
*The beating heart at centre of God’s Word.
*The heart cries of God’s people: the thoughts, prayers and praises of people living in His story and seeking to trust Him through life’s ups and downs.
*Cries from a kingdom, the gathered people living under an earthly king, which points us right to God’s chosen perfect King, Jesus.

In addressing our modern difficulties in reading and appreciating the Psalms, Kathleen pointed to the fact that reading poetry has simply fallen out of practice in our culture. This was a regular practice in families for centuries gone by. They would sit around and listen to poetry, to appreciate the imagery and the repetition it contains. People would even hire poets to recite poetry for their dinner guests, and children would learn much poetry by heart. But now we live in a culture which is saturated not by poetic images, but Instagram, Facebook, Flash chat and the likes. We have trained ourselves through new technology to be addicted to cool graphics and images, through the multiple screens about us. So when it comes to the Psalms, their poetic form has become so foreign, so strange to us, something we are not used to reading.
This must really delight our enemy: “The devil is happy with a people who live on images and sound bites and tweets. He wants words of bible to seem foreign.”

So it is no wonder that we struggle to drink from the riches of the Word if the word is strange to us. How easily our minds can wander when we don’t see the point or the beauty of the poetry. But the more we immerse ourselves in it, the more the words of the Psalms become familiar to us, the more strength and confidence these words will bring to our lives. We must make friends with the imagery, the emotion, the shape, the rise and fall, of the tapestry of the Psalms. And naturally this applies to all of God’s word. We must not let His Word be a stranger to us. God has provided it for our strengthening and joy!

(Finally let me just add that I haven’t forgotten my project, of gathering all the most singable arrangements of hymns for congregational use! These talks highlighted for me the importance of us singing the Psalms together. Thanks for continuing to read along, dear followers. And welcome if you have just joined us! If you would like to spend some more time exploring the Psalms, check out this blog: Singing in Babylon)

 

Remembering grace – specifically!

prayer2No matter who we are or what circumstances and concerns we have, all of us have to deal with trouble in our lives. This post comes from Paul David Tripp with some great advice for turning our troubles into a time when we can be thankful, when we can remember God’s grace to us in a very specific way – quite a challenge!

“When trouble comes, it’s vital that you talk to yourself. . . no one is more influential in your life than you are because no one talks to you as much as you do. What you say to you in moments of trouble will impact the way you respond.

David was a man well acquainted with trouble. Poor David; if you read the Psalms, he always seems to be in trouble! But in these moments, David was always talking to himself. We saw this in Psalm 27 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

There’s something else David did in times of trouble that’s very helpful; it’s found in Psalm 4 – “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” (Psalm 4:1, ESV, emphasis mine). In the midst of trouble, David remembered the acts of God. Notice how the above phrase is in the past tense – “you have given me relief when I was in distress.” He’s not thanking the Lord for currently relieving his distressing circumstances.

What can we learn from David? In times of trouble, it’s helpful to remember with specificity the past acts of God’s relieving mercy and grace. You and I have such a short-term memory. Because of sin, we’re all about the gratification and pleasure of today. When trouble comes knocking, we get absorbed in the immediate, forgetting what God has delivered us from in the past and what he’s transforming us into for the future.

David speaks gospel sense to his soul: “Remember, this is not new. I’ve experienced trouble in the past and God was good to me then. He remains good to me today, and what I’m facing is not out of his loving and wise rule.”

I would guess that David learned this theological skill from his ancestors. In the Old Testament, God stops the rushing waters of the Jordan River so the nation of Israel can cross on dry land. The Lord tells Joshua to set out 12 memorial stones. Why? “So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty.” (Joshua 4:24)

I would encourage you to take notes from Joshua and David. Remember, with specificity, the good things God has done for you. Journal, take a picture, or do whatever else can help you, so when trouble comes knocking, you can say like David, “You have given me relief when I was I distress.”

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

1. How often do you talk to yourself?
2. Reflect on some of the things you’ve said to yourself in the past week. What were you saying to you?
3. What, or who, are some influences that can shape what you say to you?
4. What are some examples from your life when God has given you relief from distress?
5. How can you create “memorial stones” to remind yourself that the hand of the Lord is mighty?

 

Watch “Psalm 139 (Live) – New Scottish Hymns” on YouTube

If you are looking for new ways to sing the Bible’s song book (the Psalms) with your local church then NEW SCOTTISH HYMNS could have some answers. If you liked the version of Psalm 139 then click here to download and print sheet music.

Here is what they have to say about their music:

Great hymns speak timeless truths with profound passion. They unite the church, giving Christians words to sing that articulate afresh the glories of Jesus Christ.  The New Scottish Hymns project seeks to reignite that spirit of Scotland’s great hymn-writing tradition, and uncover its treasures for a new generation.

new-scottish-hymns-cover-final-300x300ABOUT THIS PROJECT

 One aim of this album was to introduce some new songs that churches in Scotland might find useful in their own unique worship services. Scottish traditional music and folk melodies have an adaptable quality that renders the best of them timeless. Paraphrases from the Scottish Psalter like Psalm 23 have been sung across the world for centuries, and it’s important to remind new generations that these ancient words of scripture remain profoundly relevant. Scottish writers like Horatius Bonar and James Montgomery showed that a wealth of transforming biblical truths could be taught and absorbed through songs, so we also wanted to introduce examples of their lyrics to new listeners.

 The motivation for making this hymns recording did not spring simply from a desire to create art. Hymnwriting is about making music firstly out of gratitude to Jesus Christ. With all our imperfections and limitations, Christians struggle to express anything more than an echo of His greatness, but we believe that this is a thing eminently worth sharing. For the person who finds this idea strange, it will hopefully make more sense as you listen! Our hope is that every listener might hear the joy that comes from the gospel: the good news of God’s saving and transforming love, made available to every person through his son.

Our Church Song list for 2014

spotify ARPC 2014It’s always really helpful when you can get hold of lists of songs other churches are singing – so I’m reciprocating the favour (perhaps in advance). Here is our church songlist for 2014. If you follow the Spotify link, or click the picture, you should be able to find all the songs on our to do list at Acacia Ridge Presbyterian. Below I have included a few key points about each song and some of the stand-out lyrics:

All I have is Christ (Jordan Kauflin, Sovereign Grace – key C).
This is top of the list because we never got to it last year! The song is full of great truth about our redemption in Christ.  The song moves us to know that Christ (who saved us from our “hell-bound race”) is indeed now our only boast. He is all that we can count on in this world! Hallelujah! The song works well with many instruments or just one. Here is verse 3:
Now Lord I would be Yours alone And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands could never come from me
O Father use my ransomed life in any way You choose
And let my song forever be ‘My only boast is You!’

It is Well (Todd Fields – Music at North Point)
Some hymn revamps don’t work well, but this one does! The verse melody is exactly the same, and the chorus is new. The monotone melody has been replaced by one that is far more uplifting, and some additional lyrics have the same effect. It creates an effective crescendo. Here is the chorus:
It is well it is well, Through the storm I am held
It is well it is well with my soul
It is well it is well, God has won, Christ prevailed
It is well it is well with my soul

Made Alive (Citizens)
Last year my family came back from a week-long youth camp singing this song. I have already written a post about it here. The great thing is that when you sing this you commit to memory so much scriptural truth (particularly Romans 3:20-12 and Ephesians 2:8-9).
Here is verse 1 and the chorus:
I once was dead in sin, Alone and hopeless,
A child of wrath I walked condemned in darkness,
But your mercy brought new life And in your love and kindness,
Raised me up with Christ and made me righteous.
Chorus:
You have bought me back with the riches of,

Your amazing grace and relentless love.
I’m made alive forever, with you, life forever
By your grace I’m saved, By your grace I’m saved.

Overflowed (Trevor Hodge)
We have been singing this one for a few months already and it has really caught on. It is a lively song with a pretty simple melody (some syncopation, and also some very straight rhythms). But I think the best feature is the carefully crafted chorus, which effectively sums up the glory of forgiveness and grace:
In Christ Your love has overflowed
The debts we owed have been all wiped away
And now the riches of Your grace
Have raised us up to live in Him always
And bring You praise

Praise to the Lord the Almighty (Hymn – Christy Nockels arrangement)
As I have been looking for Psalms to sing, this hymn fits the bill, drawing on Psalm 103.  I’ll use this arrangement as the chord structures are a little simpler and it has a gentler feel, but the melody is the same. There are a few extra Praise Him’s and Hallelujahs (for a chorus of sorts), which could be omitted. Verse 1:
Praise to the Lord the Almighty the King of creation
O my soul praise Him for He is thy health and salvation
All ye who hear now to His temple draw near
Praise Him in glad adoration

The Perfect Wisdom of our God (Getty music – key A)
This song is a gentle prayer, for understanding of God’s wisdom and ways in Creation and in the workings of his sovereign hand in our lives. Here is verse 3:
Oh grant me wisdom from above, To pray for peace and cling to love,
And teach me humbly to receive the sun and rain of Your sovereignty.
Each strand of sorrow has a place within this tapestry of grace;
So through the trials I choose to say: “Your perfect will in your perfect way.”

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/keith-and-kristyn-getty/perfect-wisdom-of-our-god-lyrics/#ekHjSB39hg9BPA1q.99

Grace has now appeared (Rob Smith EMU music – key C)
Grace has indeed appeared – in the person of Jesus Christ! This song is quite syncopated, but predictably so, making it singable. It has a catchy opening riff, and a lively tempo. More information here.
My favourite lines of this song come in verse 3:
He has come to dwell within us, Bringing us from death to life,
Giving us the hope of glory, Making us like Christ, Shining forth his light.

Oh the Deep Deep Love (Bob Kauflin – key E)
Some of you may know this hymn by Samuel Trevor Francis, but you should definitely try the beautiful melody and tempo of this tune. I think it suits the lyrics far better than other tunes used in the past. Sheet music here
VERSE 1
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me
Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of Your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Your glorious rest above

The Glories of Calvary (Steve and Vicki Cook, Sovereign Grace – key F)
This has been one of my favourite, lively, grace focused songs for many years, but I just haven’t got a round to it. I can’t even chose just a small excerpt of the lyrics, so here is verse 1 and chorus. Sheet music here
VERSE 1
Lord, You’re calling me to come and behold the wondrous cross
To explore the depths of grace that came to me at such a cost
Where Your boundless love Conquered my boundless sin
And mercy’s arms were opened wide
CHORUS

My heart is filled with a thousand songs Proclaiming the glories of Calvary
With every breath, Lord how I long to sing of Jesus who died for me
Lord, take me deeper into the glories of Calvary

Unashamed (Mark Altrogge – key G)
This is a older Sovereign Grace song, but it is catchy with a fast tempo. It brings a timeless challenge to be unashamed of Jesus as Lord, since he was not ashamed to bear our disgrace and sin, for our eternal good. Sheet music here
Chorus:
Let me be unashamed, Jesus, to speak Your name
For You were the one who came, The Savior of the world
Let me be unashamed, Jesus, to speak Your name
Let me be bold to claim You as my Lord

The Father’s Embrace/Psalm 27  (Stuart Townend – key A)
This song reaffirms who God is, a God we can trust as he calls us into relationship with him. I have included this one because I’ve enjoyed it personally for about a decade – also because the lyrics are so close to the original Psalm 27 (and as you know I’ve been searching for singable Psalms).  Verse 1:
You are my Anchor, My Light and my Salvation
You are my Refuge, My heart will not fear
Though my foes surround me on every hand
They will stumble and fall while in grace I stand
In my day of trouble You hide me and set me above

Christ is risen Indeed (Keith and Kirstyn Getty – key A)
This song is about the disciples, and we are now his disciples. I especially like verse 3:
Once bound by fear now bold in faith,
They preached the truth and power of grace.
And pouring out their lives they gained
Life, life everlasting.

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/keith-and-kristyn-getty/christ-is-risen-he-is-risen-indeed-lyrics/#ClvIvl347Eg4xdvw.99

You can see last year’s list here:
https://sevennotesofgrace.com/2013/02/06/praise-the-lord-new-song-list-ready-for-2013/

Blessings, Ros

The lost music of the Psalms

As you may know I’ve been thinking about the Psalms lately and wondering if I can track down some singable and contemporary arrangements. It is proving to be a slightly frustrating quest. As this post from In Touch ministries explains, much has been lost in the translation of the Psalms – our English versions simply cannot convey the original lyrical structures, making them difficult to craft into song. But while we must enjoy them more as poetry, the Psalms still provide encouragement for us today. God’s voice still speaks through them, and in them His Spirit works.

Lost in Translation -Though silent, the book of Psalms still resonates.

by Jamie A. Hughes

There are few things worse than sitting in a crowd of laughing people when you don’t get the joke, but that’s exactly what happened to me when I saw the play Cyrano de Bergerac performed in French. The title character is a force of nature, a brash swordsman as well as a gifted musician and poet. However, there’s something else that sets him apart—an enormous nose he describes as “a monument open to the public.” Cyrano feels no one could love him because of his appearance, so he uses his words to win friends and wound enemies. That’s why it’s important to understand exactly what he’s saying if you want to keep up. I had seen the play performed in English several times, but when I heard the rhyming dialogue flowing from the actor’s mouth like a melodic river, I realized I’d never experienced the play the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Then as now, I understand just enough French to follow a basic conversation, but the finer points of the language are lost on me.

I’ve learned that the same is true of Psalms, the prayer book of Israel and what many call the central, beating heart of the Old Testament. The word “psalm” is a derivative of the Greek term psalmos, which means “song,” but these scriptures are read like poetry today rather than sung with accompaniment. The music may be unknown, but the beautiful words retain a certain melodic quality of their own. That’s why the poet Naphtali Herz Imber says, “In [the psalms] one finds the deep heartbreaking tones of a Beethoven . . . the silent, sweet whisper of love’s longing, as well as the wild galloping hallelujahs suggestive of Wagner.”

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” wrote David in Psalm 139. “If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (vv. 7-10). We can savor these majestic, encouraging words and know our God is always near, but without the melody, can our hearts ever totally understand what “the man after God’s own heart” was trying to express (1 Sam. 13:14)? I can’t help but wonder if phrases like “ascend into heaven” and “take the wings of the morning” climbed a bright and brilliant scale that lightened the heart and lifted the eyes. I imagine Levitical choirs singing of hell and the “uttermost parts of the sea” in rumbling bass tones, a picture of bleak places painted with sound.

In another psalm, the author uses a simile to describe his yearning for the Lord’s presence: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” (Ps. 42:1). Beautiful verse to be certain, but we can’t fully appreciate it without knowing the melodious sounds of the instrument for which it was crafted.

This is an ache words alone cannot express, but music helps articulate such an emotion effectively. How much better would we understand this prayer if we could participate with our ears as well as our eyes?

Though the psalms are exquisite, we can’t experience them in the same way the people of Israel did. But when we reach our eternal home, perhaps we’ll hear these prayers as songs for the first time and understand what Isaiah meant when he said, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Ps. 35:5-6). In that moment, we’ll know more fully the extent of God’s goodness, beauty, and delight. And we will rejoice.

As is the case with God’s creations, there will always be more to learn about the psalms. His handiwork is breathtaking in depth and scope, and this is why a scripture mulled over one hundred times can still surprise on the one hundred and first reading. Or why a story that seems insignificant in times of jubilation is the only thing that sustains us when trouble comes. So while there’s no way of knowing exactly how the 150 musical prayers of praise, lament, wisdom, and thanksgiving should sound, we can still read and delight in them—and rejoice in what they (and we) will be one day.

All Scripture quoted is from the New King James Version. 2013 In Touch Ministries, www.intouch.org.

You may also enjoy:
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Great are You, Lord (All Sons and Daughters)

GREAT ARE YOU LORD
Written by: Jason Ingram, Leslie Jordan, David Leonard (All Sons & Daughters)all sons and daughters

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

© 2013 Integrity’s Praise! Music/BMI & Integrity’s Alleluia! Music/SESAC (both adm at EMICMGPublishing.com) & Sony/ATV Timber Publishing/West Main Music/Winsor Hill Music/SESAC

You can find the lead sheet for this song on CCLI. (Hope to try it at church! It has a very Psalm-like quality!) Find out more about the album All Sons & Daughters Live. You may also like their song Come to Save us which could be great for a Christmas special.

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The Bible’s Songbook

I’vpsalmiste been thinking lately about the way many churches (including mine) have let the practice of Psalm-singing slip away. I also wonder why. Why do we neglect singing from the Bible’s songbook together? Surely there is much to be gained by singing directly from God’s word, especially when it is written in the form of song. So I’ve decided to embark on an epic journey to find some great arrangements of Psalms with a more with contemporary style. (I would LOVE to hear your suggestions! Please comment if you know some.) In the meantime, consider some of these thoughts on the Psalms from MERE INKLING’s robstroud:

 . .  . the Psalms are the foundation and epitome of worship music for Jews and Christians alike. One could read a Psalm each day and since there are one hundred and fifty, when you returned to the first psalm five months after beginning, it would be utterly fresh. C.S. Lewis enjoyed the Psalms. The following passage comes from a letter written in 1940.

“My enjoyment of the Psalms has been greatly increased lately. The point has been made before, but let me make it again: what an admirable thing it is in the divine economy that the sacred literature of the world should have been entrusted to a people whose poetry, depending largely on parallelism, should remain poetry in any language you translate it into. And glorious poetry it is. The beauty of the songs extends far beyond the family “Lord is my shepherd . . .” And yet, it would be impossible to comprehend the number of grieving souls that have been comforted with the words “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Most Christian traditions greatly value the Psalms, and many include them as a portion of the regular service or liturgy. And individuals who include them in the personal devotions are never disappointed. C.S. Lewis included them in his prayer and devotion. In fact, he enjoyed the Psalms so much that in 1958 he wrote a book entitled Reflections on the Psalms. There he proclaims, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express that same delight in God which made David dance.”

The Church has added an immense repertoire to the Psalms during the past two millennia, but they will never be replaced. In fact, many inspired songs owe a major debt to the Psalms themselves. This includes the Odes of Solomon, the first (post-Psalms) Christian hymnal (composed circa 100 A.D.). Speaking of the Odes, I wrote a thesis on them many years ago, and have been considering writing a book about these treasures. Perhaps I’ll share more about them in the future. (Nb. The lovely window pictured above is from a church in Fringford, England. David was likely a bit younger when most of the psalms he composed were written.)

http://mereinkling.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/the-bibles-songbook/

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