1 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright.
2 Praise the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
3 Sing to him a new song; play skilfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
4 For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. (Psalm 33:1-8 NRSV)
Tonight a small group of us gathered for a potluck dinner, a tour of the flower garden, and then sing for about 30 to 40 minutes, before closing with communion and a few more songs. Our group was a mix of ages, but about half were over 65. We sang all kinds of songs, more contemporary songs, gospel songs, and hymns. It seems that there are certain songs that always get picked by the participants. I don't need to slip In the Garden into worship, because will sing it whenever there is a hymn sing.
I love music and I enjoy singing. I could sing for hours, without any problem. I'm blessed with a music minister who who shares my passion for music and its place in worship. Although I think choirs are a blessing, especially choirs full of people who are there because they like to make a joyful noise, not just because they're drawing a check (I suppose you could say that about preachers, but we'll not go there today).
What I've discovered is that songs and hymns have great power. Go to a convalescent home and lead worship. Even people who are experiencing dementia often will remember the songs of an earlier day -- especially a simple one such as Jesus Loves Me.
My greatest concern about much contemporary worship is that it has become increasingly performance oriented. That is, much of the music that is being produced under the label "praise" is unsingable. It's designed for a small group of "praise singers" to sing while the gathered folk kind of mouth the words along the way. I don't believe that this is healthy. When people are allowed to give voice to their faith through song, something powerful happens. Indeed, for me it is while singing that I most often find myself drawn into the presence of God. There is a place for preaching. The Table is central and I believe that frequency is important (weekly is what's right for me). But without song, my heart doesn't sing to the Lord.
Let us then, with the Psalmist, sing a new song to the Lord.