Music is powerful. It can lift your spirits, make you dance, and make you smile. It can cause you to reflect, make you think, and make you cry. Music brings people together. Music can make you happy or it can make you sad. Music is powerful. We all know this. God knows this too.
Song-writers have a great gift. God is honored when they write songs that honor Him. And in each generation we need new songs that celebrate what God has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do. This was true in David’s generation when the Psalms were written (1000 BC), it was true in the time of Isaiah (700 BC), it was true in the time of Jesus (1st century AD), it was true in the time of Martin Luther (16th century), it was true in the time of Fanny Crosby (19th century), it was true in the time of Bill Gaither (20th century) and it is true today.
If you are a Christian, you probably have some songs that you love to hear and love to sing. There are many reasons they may be important to you, such as:
- they have rich theology and sound Christian doctrine
- you sang them often so they are very familiar to you
- they express to God what you’d like to express to Him
- they were sung at important worship services you attended (revivals, special church services, etc)
- you like the tune
- they are great songs to sing
Have you ever thought about the fact that at one time those songs had not been written? Then someone used their gifts for the Lord: they wrote the lyrics, set them to music, and a great song of the faith was born! We are all grateful for the song.
If we are going to help the generations after us to worship the Lord through music, we must not only teach them the songs that we already know but we should expect that God will equip songwriters to write new songs to the Lord now and in the future, songs that they will love to sing for all of the same reasons that you love your favorite hymns and songs.
In the time of Isaiah, God reminded the people through Isaiah that they needed to write new songs to the Lord. In Isaiah chapter forty-two we read:
10 Sing a new song to the Lord;
sing His praise from the ends of the earth,
you who go down to the sea with all that fills it,
you islands with your inhabitants.
11 Let the desert and its cities shout,
the settlements where Kedar dwells cry aloud.
Let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy;
let them cry out from the mountaintops.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord
and declare His praise in the islands.
13 The Lord advances like a warrior;
He stirs up His zeal like a soldier.
He shouts, He roars aloud,
He prevails over His enemies.
14 “I have kept silent from ages past;
I have been quiet and restrained Myself.
But now, I will groan like a woman in labor,
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills
and dry up all their vegetation.
I will turn rivers into islands
and dry up marshes.
16 I will lead the blind by a way they did not know;
I will guide them on paths they have not known.
I will turn darkness to light in front of them
and rough places into level ground.
This is what I will do for them,
and I will not forsake them.
17 They will be turned back and utterly ashamed—
those who trust in idols
and say to metal-plated images:
You are our gods!
From these verses, we learn some important truths:
- From the ends of the earth, sing a new song! (vv10-11)
- songs from all nations, in all styles
- Sing a new song of joy and victory (vv11-13)
- songs that remind you of the joy of knowing the Lord — smile!
- songs that remind you of the victory you have in Christ — eternally and on a daily basis
- Through the new songs, declare who God is and what He has done! (vv14-17)
- He has restrained Himself from displaying His wrath (v14)
- He will now show His power (vv14-15,17)
- He will lead and guide His people and never forsake them (v16)
The people of Isaiah’s day may not have felt they needed new songs. First, they had plenty of songs to sing (the Psalms, 150 of them in all, written 300 years prior) and their circumstances did not make them feel much like singing. But God was at work in their generation — even in the midst of their troubles — and through their songs they focused on Him, gave Him the praise He deserved, and aligned their lives with His will. And the words of Isaiah 42:10 still ring true today: sing a new song to the Lord.
So the next time you hear a worship song written by Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Darlene Zschech, or another Christian songwriter that you may or may not have heard of, stop and thank the Lord that He is still at work today through His people, writing new songs about timeless truths that help us express our heart’s desires to the Lord through music.
Enjoy the songs you have sung for decades, but don’t be afraid to learn new songs. Listen to them. Sing them. These new songs are songs from all over the world, songs of joy and victory, songs declaring who God is and what He has done.
Sing a new song to the Lord.