The church gathers to worship God receiving truths inherited from the past and expressing them in present contexts with a view to future hope.
From Michael Kelley:

During Joshua’s lifetime, the people worshiped faithfully, having their worship formed by their past. But they were only one generation away from forgetting all God had done, and therefore the Lord Himself. This is what happens when our worship is not rooted and formed by the past.
That does not mean we only sing old songs. But it does mean that when we sing, we sing with the aim of remembering old truths. We should care deeply about the substance of what we’re singing, for when we sing, we should always be recounting the old, old story of a Savior who came from glory. Who gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me. This is the greatest act of God. This is ultimately what all our worship should be rooted and formed by – recalling, remembering, and retelling the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our worship is formed by the past. But our worship shapes the present. Here’s what I DON’T mean by that – I don’t mean that we can somehow praise something into existence. That we can sing songs about victory and all our circumstantial problems will go away. This is not some name it and claim it worship methodology. What I mean is that when we sing, our understanding and perspective on the present is shaped.
Notice that verse 1 tells us that we should sing a new song to the Lord. This Psalm is part of a group of psalms that were sung to give praise to God as King. They’re sometimes called coronation psalms. And when these songs were sung at specific times in the calendar, there would be new songs composed.
That doesn’t mean that we need to write a new song every Sunday for worship; but it does bring a sense of freshness and present tense to worship. And we need our present to be formed by worship because we are emotional beings. God made us that way. The problem is that our emotions are corrupted by sin, just as every part of us is. That means that you cannot trust your heart, just like I cannot trust mine.


2 thoughts on “Songs Old And New (via Michael Kelley)

  1. Not all parishioners may be aware that the wish to reform Christian Liturgy to ancient, lamentably lost ways underlay two of the most significant responses of Anglican clergy to the soulless sequelae of the Industrial Revolution. When he died ca 1791, John Wesley was still an Ordained Minister of the Church of England. He and his prolific hymnodist brother Charles, influenced by Moravian theology, had led mainly working class followers in a quest, a return to the ANCIENT WAY, the Primitive Method of worship, whence their appelation “Primitive Methodists”, a reform movement WITHIN the C of E.
    In 1933, a similar quest motivated the Oxford Movement, called Tractarianism after its publication “Tracts for the Times”. The brothers Wesley had been sneered at by Ruling Class Anglicans. A less caste-based, equally negative response met scholar, poet & Priest John Henry Newman, & Edward Pusey, til Newman converted to Roman Catholicism and Pusey invented the Anglo version, with Transubstantiation, incense and the full theatre of the Mass, “High Church”, called “Smells and Bells” by observers of the Book of Common Prayer, thenceforth known as “Low Church”, and proud of it.
    Newman, soon to be a Cardinal, wrote “On Universities” a great influence on Tertiary curricula and campus life. Melbourne’s graced by Walter Burley Griffin’s Art Déco classic rooms and chapel on Swanston St, North of Faraday & Tin Alley on THE University Campus. This sculpturally pure set of buildings is Newman College.
    Another product of the quest for revival of the real or ideal ancient faith was a young Anglican Scholar Priest towards the Oxford Movement’s end, who at 21 converted to Rome, became a Jesuit and, I believe, the most innovative, soul-stirring, beautifully articulate English poet of all time.
    Here’s to you,
    Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J.!

  2. Psalms. “Psalmoi” was Greek, meaning “for stringed instruments”. We know many from their Latin names, De Profundis, Te Deum et caetera, but in the late 4th and early 5th centuries, Roman Christians would meet, often in the house of Marcella, to learn them verbatim and sing them in HEBREW. Who led this? A secretary to the Bishop of Rome. A brilliant Latin writer and philologist born in Roman Dalmatia (now Croatia) he’d spent over a year in Jerusalem, learning Hebrew and its Syriac or Aramaic offshoots. Why?
    To produce a Bible in his compatriots’ tongue, he wished to work directly from the nearest-to-original texts available. Greek or Koine were OK.for Baruch, Maccabees 1 & 2 & others of the Judaic Deuterocanon (“Apocrypha” if you prefer!) and for the Christian collection we call “New Testament”, but he wanted to go back before the translation Ptolemy commissioned for the Library (Bibliothéka) of Alexandria, the Septuagint, known to its friends as LXX. We still use the Greek names for O.T. books, often cut to one word, e.g. “Genesis”. This Latin Scholar and lover of Hebrew was Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus, his name cut in lazier ages to Ieronimus, upper case “I” as in “Iesus” soon written “J” to distinguish it from lower case “L”, later interpreted as a ZH sound, and we swapped the ancient, beautiful names for the erroneous “Jesus” & “Saint Jerome”
    (Spanish = “Geronimo!”
    – hang on to your scalp!)

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