Do you ever get that moment when a song comes on the radio and it catapults you back to a particular place or time? Recently at work I was blasted back to my childhood by HeartFM (not my choice of station!) with ‘Footloose’, ‘Vogue’ and ‘Wake me up before you go go’! I’ve been to a lot of weddings over the past few years and it always amuses me how the DJ often saves a few classics for the end of the night to keep people dancing – namely Living on a prayer, Don’t stop believing and Summer of ’69! Everyone loves a classic!
It’s funny how a song can bring out different emotions, thoughts and feelings; even within a couple of bars of a song! I find it’s the same with worship music. We can feel connected to God through song in so many different ways – a song of comfort or strength during difficult times or a song of devotion that expresses our love for God. Sometimes worship songs can convey a ‘moment’ or season in your life. When our daughter was in hospital for a few weeks after birth we were so overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness towards us we clung to a song that we were singing at church at the time. The words, “I will sing of all you’ve done, I’ll remember how far you’ve carried me, from beginning until the end, you are faithful, faithful to the end” became an anthem for us that we could barely sing past our tears because it was so meaningful to us at that time.
I also love it when we sing a golden oldie that takes me back to a particular moment with God – it can often be quite moving to sing it when we haven’t sung it for years! The songs we already know are also easier to sing! We know the words, we know the tune. We like the ones we know! But it’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t once command us to sing old songs! Not that we shouldn’t sing old songs but the Bible does command us to sing a new song. It is referenced in several Psalms – Sing to the Lord a new song (96), Sing to him a new song (33), I will sing a new song to you, O God (144) and in Revelation 5 – They sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals”(Also Isaiah 42, Psalm 40).
So singing new songs seems to be an important part of our worship to God so here are 3 reasons for this:
1) New songs are a natural overflow of worship. God is so vast and He will never cease to amaze us with wonder and awe of who He is, how He loves us and all He’s done for us. There will never be enough words, melodies or songs to express his worth, his greatness, goodness, love…. and we get the privilege of writing and singing new songs of praise to him for all of it! Wonderful!
2) A new song can bring freshness to worship. I know I can sometimes get so used to singing a familiar song that I can sing it from memory without really digesting the words – it’s so easy to just go through the motions rather than really connect your heart with the words and engage with God. It’s also why during our gatherings we encourage one another to sing out our own words and made-up songs from the heart, as it can help us connect to God much more intimately rather than just singing the words on a screen.
3) A new song can freshly capture truths about God. It can freshly reveal something of God’s heart for us or his character. It can stir us up to praise or draw us into intimacy with him in a new way.
So in Gateway we try to introduce about 8-10 new songs per year. Sometimes these are suggestions from members of the congregation, sometimes from the worship team. The worship leaders then prayerfully consider the suggestions and agree on which songs to introduce and when. We hope God leads us to songs that are for his church in each season – sometimes this will fit with the preaching series or with prophetic words that have been brought to the church. We also try to include songs that fill ‘gaps’ in our current repertoire of songs, touching on subjects or theology we don’t often sing about and we try to choose songs from a mixture of sources and church streams too.
Music is a subjective thing – some songs we’ll love, some we’ll dislike. Some songs we’ll connect with, others we won’t. But we continue to sing a new song because God is infinitely worthy of new expressions of praise!
Here are 4 new songs we’ll be introducing over the coming months:
Hillsong – What a beautiful name
Elevation Worship – Fullness
Chris Quilala – Miracles
Housefires – Rise
by Pippa Lloyd