Why the Church Still Needs NEW Songs

By on May 25, 2014

“Stop all the new music!!!” was what he was really saying.

One Sunday I attended a different church from my own to join my husband, John, who was filling in on the keyboards there that day. It was a church that had a history of using traditional music but was trying to work in some newer choruses. I ended up sitting next to a much older, gray-haired gentleman, and though we hadn’t spoken to each other beyond the friendly greeting, we ended up sharing a hymnal during a couple of songs. At the end of the service he turned and looked at me, and said, completely out of nowhere, “Do you know what two-thirds of the word contemporary is? <pause> Temporary!” I was completely stunned, since we hadn’t spoken at all before this. And in my bewildered state, I just replied, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and then we parted.

As far as I know, he couldn’t tell that I was married to the different keyboardist who obviously enjoyed playing the “contemporary” stuff. Maybe I sounded like I enjoyed singing the newer songs more than he liked. I don’t know. I just knew that it made no sense, since all songs are “contemporary” at the time of their writing and are obviously not all “temporary.” But beyond that, I knew that he missed out on a tremendous blessing by not having opened his heart and mind to the words that the worship leader was guiding us in.

N.T. Wright is described as “the most prolific biblical scholar in a generation” by Christianity Today. And when I recently saw this video where he shares his insights about the significance of singing new songs to the Lord, I knew I had to share it. Take a minute to watch this short but powerful video, and then continue reading.

God is still in the business of creating new things! And He wants to involve us so that we might bring Him more glory. How very exciting! How incredibly humbling!

In Psalm 40:3 David said,

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.” David’s new song came after God lifted him out of the “pit of destruction” (v.2).

It’s part of His continuing work in and through us that He wants all to see. It’s a good and necessary thing.

And in Psalm 149:1 the psalmist encourages us,

“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.”

We should embrace new songs together as a sign and celebration of God’s continued work and faithfulness toward us. Why? Because He’s worthy, and because He’s asked us to!

Think about it – throughout the Bible God weaves His theme of newness.

“Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

And in the end of time?

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (Revelation 21:1).

So God has not hidden His delight in creating “new” in the least! He has a great passion for creating and redeeming.

Yet so many in the church seem reluctant to embrace and celebrate the new works, songs in particular for this conversation, that our creative God is giving to His people to share. I know there are worship leaders who could improve the frequency at which they introduce new songs, but there are still many people who buck even the occasional one – for various reasons. One thing is for sure – the enemy does not want us worshiping God at all, much less celebrating the new ways He’s working or revealing Himself. So the spiritual battle is very real. We should familiarize ourselves with the many Biblical passages that shed light on this somewhat divisive issue. Here are a few more (in case you still need convincing) . . .

“Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy” (Psalm 33:3).

“O sing to the LORD a new song, For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him” (Psalm 98:1). I love the very clear answer to “Why?” in this verse!

“When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation’” (Revelation 5:8-9).

According to Revelation 5:8-9, we can expect to hear and sing new songs at the ultimate worship service for all time! Now is not the time to get so comfortable with the old and current that we end up just mouthing words that we’ve sung for years. (I’ve been guilty of that.)

As our knowledge and our relationship with God grow, so should the depths of our worship expression, with new words, new insights, new melodies, and new expressions of adoration that He gives us. Sure, we’ll still have our older favorites. (So many great ones!) But we need to bring Him new gifts as well. I think God would surely delight at our own attempts at writing poems, songs, or letters of exaltation and adoration to Him. After all, Jesus is our Song (Psalm 118:14; Isaiah 12:2). And as we respond in worship to each new revelation or new blessing of grace, we sing His song!

So don’t be afraid to pour out your heart before Him in new ways. And delight in the songs He gives to others. Ask Him to help you to intimately worship with songs that are new to you. (He would love to answer that prayer!) He may just want them to be your new song, too.

 

How do you perceive people responding to new songs in your church? Has your view changed at all after reading these scripture passages?

 

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NOTE: If you struggle to experience intimate worship at church when distractions like this come, you can receive my free eBook 4 Keys to Intimate Sunday Morning Worship by subscribing to this blog. Also, many of my insights here are taken from lesson nine in my Bible study, Worship and the Word. To learn more about what the Bible teaches about God’s plan for us as His worshipers, check out Worship and the Word or purchase it here.

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  1. Lee
    May 26, 2014

    I love most Christian music. (old and new) I believe that the biggest problem is that some ‘musicians’ believe that louder is better. I guess if you don’t care what the lyrics are saying then this is true, because if you don’t already have the words memorized then all you can do is sing ‘la la la la.’ There is a certain Db that causes harm to the hearing. Maybe we should consider that as well. I apologize for the ramblings….

    • Pamela Haddix
      May 26, 2014

      When worship is the goal, then the volume should be set at a level where people can hear the vocalists and lyrics clearly and themselves (and hopefully others) sing. I’ve been in similar situations (and the opposite, if you can believe it), so I hear you. But that’s not what this post is about…haha. So you’re forgiven for your ramblings.:-) Thanks for commenting!

    • Cindy
      May 28, 2014

      Lee, You bring up a very good point. I have a daughter and a husband who are very noise sensitive, and I also find myself cringing at the noise level at times.
      Also, have a father who is very hearing impaired so am sensitive the levels which are exposed to. I do not understand this!

  2. Sheila Sternberg
    May 26, 2014

    If we were created in the image of God, and if He was THE Creator, shouldn’t we also have a desire to create new things too? Some people write, some draw, some sew, some decorate, some paint, some cook, some play with fun iPad apps, some build buildings, some build sand castles or Lego creations. My point is that we all seem to have this inner desire to create something new. It comes as no surprise that our Heavenly Father takes joy at watching us create new things, especially if those new creations are in communications with Him in song.

    • Pamela Haddix
      May 26, 2014

      Great point! He’s the Creator -> we’re made in His image. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Stephanie
    May 28, 2014

    I agree with Lee. For the past 10 or 15 years this has been such a sadness to me. I feel it is almost diabolical the way some churches blast the music so loud that not one word is able to be understood. How are we able to enter into the worship of God with all we can hear is loud noise. I tremble when I see people with infants with little ears exposed to this noise. I went to see a doctor to see if I need a hearing aid and he told me there was nothing he could do for me was my inner ear was damaged, he said you must have been in a lot of discos with loud music . Sadly i would have to say it has been churches. These poor babies don’t have a chance, and to think the damage was done in a church! So it is not the new creation of a new song that I grapple with, if I could hear the words I’m sure I would love it!

    • Pamela Haddix
      May 28, 2014

      I’m so sorry you’ve had such a negative experience with this, Stephanie. My greatest encouragement would be to take control of those things that you can control. For instance, always carry earplugs. (I’ve heard that some churches actually have baskets of them to take!) This may sound silly, but I always carry earplugs with me. I’ve rarely needed them for church, but I’m always ready if I feel like I need to protect my hearing. Another thing is to realize that most sanctuaries/auditoriums have spots that vary greatly from what the soundboard folks hear. Look at where the speakers are aiming directly, and avoid those spots. Actually, the front few rows are usually the quietest, (even more so if they use in-ear monitors on stage). And lastly, but most importantly, if this is a struggle week after week after week in your church to the point that you personally can’t worship – no matter how you try to deal with it – then that might not be the church for you. Worshiping together with the body of Christ is the primary goal of our gathering, so you need to be in a church where you feel like you’re drawn to do that freely. Not all churches are for everyone and that’s ok.

      Thanks for sharing. Glad you embrace new songs! 🙂

  4. Bill
    May 30, 2014

    Pam, thank you for your passion for worship and for the way you communicate that. You truly have a gift.
    Having raised four kids and now enjoying three grandkids, I’ve often noticed how they love to imitate their parents and grandparents. They learn through imitation but I think it may be more than that. I think it may also be a way that they unconsciously express an inner desire to be connected to and be like them.
    Since we are made in the image of God, it stands to reason that part of that image involves creativity. Creating new things that bring honor and glory to the LORD, whether its music or art, etc., certainly brings a smile to His face. But could it also be that through that creative process we are expressing a deep inner yearning, whether we realize it or not, to be like our Father?
    AND, could it be that even unbelievers are expressing a desire to be connected to the Father without even realizing it?

    • Pamela Haddix
      May 30, 2014

      Oooh, great thoughts, Bill…a yearning to be like our Father in every way, including the creative. I like that!

  5. Becky Wright
    August 1, 2015

    Pamela, THANK YOU!! This was SO well said! I’ve said many times that we are most like God when we LOVE and when we CREATE. As a worship leader and songwriter, I strive to blend the treasured old Hymns with “new stuff”, occasionally incorporating some of the songs that God has given me. As a worship leader, it’s my job to help EVERYONE come before God’s Throne in worship, utilizing a variety of songs & styles to speak to multiple generations. As a songwriter, especially in these ” last days” before Christ returns, it is my calling to share the new songs He is giving me, particularly worship songs that are intended for the church as a whole. I just try to make sure I use a variety of old and new (some mixed in medleys). This has worked very well, not only in teaching new songs to the older generations, but also teaching the younger folks the timeless, priceless Hymns that have shaped our faith and strengthened believers for hundreds of years. Truly appreciated your article and the video, Pam!!! May He pour on many new songs!!!