Thursday, December 4, 2008

Singing the Psalms

Douglas Wilson has written many books that I have gained wisdom from. Perhaps his best is this book on how to train our boys. I never read this to my boys. The oldest is nine and he will get into it soon. But I have read this book at least five times. It challenges me regularly on what it means to follow after Christ and exhibit masculine piety.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"The fact that the church has largely abandoned the singing of psalms means that the church has abandoned a songbook that is thoroughly masculine in its lyrics. The writer of most of the psalms was a warrior, and he knew how to fight the Lord's enemies in song. With regard to the music of our psalms and hymns, we must return to a world of vigorous singing, vibrant anthems, more songs where the tenor carries the melody, open fifths, and glory. Our problem is not that such songs do not exist; our problem is that we have forgotten them. And in forgetting them, we are forgetting our boys. Men need to model such singing for their sons." (p. 100)

This past Sunday I attended a contemporary evangelical church. It had all the bells and whistles that people are supposed to want today. What was my reaction? Boredom. The music put me sleep. (One of my sons even said he had a hard time staying awake.) It all sounded the same. The words were trite and vacant, with little biblical content. There is no magic bullet for a church like this. But a good start would be to obey the Bible by singing the psalms. (Colossians 3:16)

I was not raised on the psalms. They are new to me, but nothing has increased my love for worship like learning to sing psalms that are played and sung with enthusiasm, joy, and vigor. In family worship, we regularly learn new psalms. We still sing hymns, but the psalms form the core of our praise. For too long this neglected weapon has sat on the shelf, like a relic of the past. It is time to dust off the psalms and once again sing the war songs of the Prince of Peace.

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8