Friends here’s a timely post from for the (still) New Year from Tony Defranco:
We Need a New Song: A Mediation on Psalm 96
It is an undisputed fact that songs are one of the most powerful mediums to communicate a message. Whether it’s communicating a protest of something you won’t stand for, a familiar emotion in a lyric, or just something you turn up with the windows down to blow off steam, songs are what people go to in order to find an expression of how they feel. Even in 2020, with no concerts for most of the year, and artists mostly in quarantine for nearly 9 months, songwriting did not suffer. In a recent article, billboard.com actually attributed our global shutdown as a benefit to Taylor Swift. She wrote, recorded, and released one of the biggest albums of the year during the shutdown and got it out less than a year after her last one. They go on to say that platforms like TikTok gave rise to unknown artists, making them overnight success stories in the midst of a year where most other people were navigating great loss. How does that happen? The article states, “if you thought TikTok was influential before, that of course proved to be a gentle nudge compared to the full-body impact it flexed once the youth of America had less reason than ever not to spend all day on their phones.”
Think on that. In the middle of an incredibly trying year the “youth of America” turned to TikTok to shop for various expressions of how they felt. They discovered new content, aligned themselves with what resonated most, and started singing those songs. When things got difficult, when anxiety hit all-time highs, when forced into isolation, people turned to songs in order to find a voice that communicated how we felt. Songs are powerful.
Heading into 2021 I found myself mediating on Psalm 96:1 which says, Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
It became very clear to me that throughout 2020 we all aligned ourselves with a “song.” What was the message you rallied behind last year? What was the expression you felt most unified with? What did you sing over the year in conversation, on social media, at work, with friends and family, amongst your church community, or to God in prayer? If we meditate for a few moments I am sure we could identify what we unified under and sang out from our bedrooms in isolation. Was it edifying? Did your “song” build you and others up in your walks with Jesus? Did it express how satisfied you are in God’s glory in the midst of hardship and trial?
Maybe you realize you picked a “song” from the top 100 of 2020. The song of Trump or Biden. The song of masks or no masks. The song of the America of old, or of the “new normal.” The song of love your neighbor, or one of hyper-individualism—I do what I want how I want when I want. The song of “Christians should gather,” or “it’s too dangerous right now for that.” I’ll be honest, I definitely had my fair share of switching my “tune” all throughout 2020. Maybe you can relate. However, at the turn of our new year, I believe the Spirit is saying to us, “2021 needs a new song.” The “songs” that have been available to us throughout this last year simply won’t do in 2021 (as if they accomplished anything in 2020).
You see, songs throughout history have typically been a unifying expression of society and culture, but the “songs” available to us now are designed to divide humanity and create sides that war against one another.
We need a new song.
We need a song that is foreign to 2020, one that will “bless” God’s “name” and “tell of His salvation from day to day.” (Psalm 96:2). I didn’t hear that much last year. It’s time we sing it loud.
We have to completely abandon all other melodies being sung today.
Identifying with a message to the extent that it is an expression of our lives is an act of worship. Singing, in any form, is worship. We all worship, and there is a “god” behind every song. Psalm 96:4 tells us God is “to be feared above all gods.” We show that reverence to God by removing the expression of every other god out of our lives.
I would encourage you to read Psalm 96 and list all the “new songs” you find available in the passage. Write them down and sing them every chance you get. Who knows, maybe we can unify a generation this year, instead of dividing it.