We are in Nashville to explore a city famous for its songs. I wouldn’t call us aficionados of country music, but my wife, daughter and I enjoy it to varying degrees. I’m partial to bluegrass, having tried my hand at flat picking years ago. So, we’ll attend the Grand Ole Opry, but not wander the Hall of Fame.
I am curious about the culture built around songwriting.
On a business trip here a few years back, I chatted with my Lyft driver. She told me that she had left a lucrative marketing job in the Northeast to try her hand at writing songs. Her parents were stymied. She was undaunted.
She had something in her she needed to get out.
David must have felt the same way. In Psalm 144:9, he writes:
I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
To keep us from relegating this to professional lute players (shaming those lazy six-string guitarists), four other psalms command us to sing a new song unto the Lord. We’re to sing of his marvelous deeds (98:1), to shout for joy (33:3) and to join our voices to the praise song of the whole world (96:1).
So, here the three of us sit, in one of the many honkytonks that line Nashville’s Broadway. At one point, the performer includes an original tune in his set – something along the line of wondering why, after a night of drinking, he wakes up with a dry mouth. (Ah, yes, the ironic humor of country music. Or should I say, dry humor.) Only half-listening, I begin to muse on God’s desire to hear each of our original songs of praise.
I love old hymns. As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently singing my way through an antiquated hymnal, joining in the praise crafted by believers throughout the ages, some of them long forgotten. But I’m reminded that I need to put some of my own words into the songs I sing to God.
There was a time when I wrote worship music for fun. One of my life’s happy moments was when I led a congregation in one of them (without telling them it was mine). But a new song doesn’t need to be polished or presentable. It just needs two ingredients: your own words and some semblance of a melody.
Singing somehow engages the heart to a deeper degree than the spoken word. Combining our own notes with a heartfelt reflection on God’s goodness in our lives reaches a level of engagement and sincerity that is surprisingly powerful. It’s no wonder the Lord wants to hear it from each of our vocal cords.
Regardless of how well you can sing or make words rhyme.
Or, for that matter, how many strings your lute has.
Heavenly Father, you are surrounded by the songs of your angels – more beautiful than we could imagine or even process. And yet, you desire our home-spun melodies, our unpolished words of praise. Teach us how to sing to you from our own hearts and minds.
Reader: I’m curious as to when you might have tried singing a new song to the Lord. Tell me about the experience – what was the situation? How did it feel?