From Kristen Vogelaar
"I will sing a new song to you, O God;
upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
who gives victory to kings,
who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword."
"All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]"
Often, as I read through the Psalms, I tend to skip over that phrase, "Sing a new song [to the Lord]." I think I've seen it in contemporary worship songs at times, but it's floated past me as just another common phrase that sounds nice, perhaps, or lends a kind of poetic flourish to the verse.
Recently, however, I've had that phrase jump out at me as I read. "A new song." What does that mean? I don't think that the author would toss around empty words. It seems to imply that I have been singing another song, one that perhaps no longer fits with what God has done in my life.
Throughout my life, my song has often been one of mourning; more of a dirge, really. I'd long struggled with depression, disappointment, and deep loneliness. And I did call out to God, but I couldn't see what he was doing. As he has placed this lonely one in a Massachusetts family, and given me great joy and thankfulness, it seems fitting that my song would change as well. I am singing a new song, one that he taught me to sing. It reminds me of the phrase from our daily lectionary: "O Lord, open our lips; and our mouth shall proclaim your praise."
I don't think that singing sad songs to the Lord is wrong; if we are to be in an honest relationship with God, we have to be honest with him about what we are feeling, thinking, and experiencing, for our own sakes. But I do think that when we sing to the Lord, it is not only an expression of how we feel, but it is in response to what He has done and is doing--in our own lives, in the life of our community, and in the world. When we choose to sing a new song, we are recognizing that He sees us, and He takes action. "The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works." When we choose to sing a new song, we are affirming that regardless of how bad it becomes; regardless of the present darkness, pain, and injustice; Jesus is Lord, and through His death on the cross and resurrection, God is reconciling all things and making all things new.