The Hole In Our Praise (and Lamentation) and Worship

chuttersnap-6jkiVl4mwws-unsplashOn my shelf I have a Celebration Hymnal: Songs and Hymns for Worship. It was published in 1997, foreworded by Jack Hayford (Pastor of The Church on the Way), and intended to provide “tools for ‘blended worship'” (from the Preface). Consisting of 865 selections, it combines new songs and old hymns, Scripture readings, and even various calls to worship.

Yet, what is strikingly absent are songs or Scriptures devoted to lament or confession. Instead The Celebration Hymnal celebrates all that the triune God has done. But it’s consistent tenor only highlights the good news of God, without considering the bad news of sin and he reason why humanity needs salvation.

For instance, the opening section of “Songs and hymns for worship” are categorized under nine headings:

  • Praise the Lord
  • Exalt the Lord
  • Bless the Lord
  • Adore the Lord
  • Glorify the Lord
  • Magnify the Lord
  • Worship the Lord
  • Give Thanks to the Lord
  • The Family at Worship

These stunningly positive categories of song are inter-leafed with Scripture readings to make up the first 201 selections. Likewise, under the category “Walking with God,” we find 12 categories:

  • Faith and Hope
  • Aspiration and Consecration
  • Assurance and Trust
  • Commitment and Obedience
  • Comfort and Encouragement
  • Prayer and Devotion
  • Purity and Holiness
  • Stewardship and Service
  • Guidance and Care
  • Provision and Deliverance
  • Spiritual Conflict and Victory
  • Peace and Joy

These sections compose more than 200 songs and Scriptures (526–752), and provide a well-rounded corpus of songs dedicated to different areas of faith, hope, love, and holiness. Yet, what remains absent is any mention of lamentation, sorrow, or pain, as well as any explicit mention of sin and confession.

Songs of “repentance and forgiveness” find four spaces under the category “New Life in Christ.” But these four songs are overshadowed by the ten songs of “invitation and acceptance” and eleven songs of “witness and and praise” in the same category.

To be fair, these themes are addressed in various songs throughout the hymnal. I confess, I haven’t read the whole book. But what I am interested in does not require a full reading but a look at the organization which the publishers supplied.

It is instructive that lamentation and confession did not make it into the arrangement of The Celebration Hymnal. While lamentation is a key biblical theme, only two Psalms of Lament are even cited in The Celebration Hymnal. And tellingly, those selections are from the vows of praise. Nothing comes close to the cries of dereliction or the screams for salvation that are found in Psalm 13, 22, 88, or 89. Continue reading

Thanksgiving According to the Psalms

thanksgivingWhile some of us may still be eating leftover turkey, most of us have moved from Thanksgiving to Christmas. This is understandable, as calendars and commitments require us to live in the present, not the past. But let us not forget that giving thanks goes beyond thanksgiving.

Indeed, in all Paul’s epistles minus Galatians—oh, those foolish Galatians!—he begins by giving thanks to God for the people he is addressing. Throughout the Bible thanksgiving is a normal and necessary part of saving faith. And so it ought to be a normal and necessary part of our daily living—not just a holiday season in November. Still, what does thanksgiving look like on a regular basis? And how can we grow in our expressions of thanksgiving?

Let’s go to the Psalms to answer that question. Continue reading

Psalm 104 and Genesis 1 in Graphic Display

In his brief but illuminating commentary on the Psalms, Derek Kidner graphs the relationship between Genesis 1 and Psalm 104.  I have reproduced an expanded version of his exegetical chart below.  It shows well how the Psalmist wrote his hymn of praise in the light of Moses creation account.

Creation Day        Formed & Filled
Day 1 Gen 1:3-5 Light & Darkness Ps 104:1-2a Light
Day 2 Gen 1:6-8 Heaven & Earth Ps 104:2b-4 Divides the waters
Day 3 Gen 1:9-10 Land & Sea Ps 104:5-9 Land and water distinct
   “   “ Gen 1:11-13 Ps 104:14-18 Vegetation, trees, hills/rocks
Day 4 Gen 1:14-19 Vegetation Ps 104:19-23 Luminaries as timekeepers
Day 5 Gen 1:20-23 Sea & Sky Animals Ps 104:25-26 Creatures of sea and air
Day 6 Gen 1:24-28 Animals & People Ps 104:21-24 Animals and Man
   “    “ Gen 1:29-31 Ps 104:27-30 Food appointed for all

Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), 368.

Of course, the relationship is not hard and fast, many aspects of the Psalm bleed into other sections, but like creation itself there is order and overlap.  Pericopes, like ecosystems, often do not have fixed boundaries, but rather discernible patterns and parameters.  God has called us to find order in his organic world/Word, but not to force our mold on either. For a lengthier description of Psalm 104, read my last post, “Seeing the Glory of God in Creation

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

100: By His Grace, For His Glory

Via Emmaus’ hundredth post is one of pray and praise. 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!  For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Thankful for the joyful labors of blogging for the last five months, and prayerful that this media venue might be continue to be used to inform, reform, and be a platform for God’s glory, only by his grace (cf. John 15:5; 1 Cor. 15:10).  

Sola Deo Gloria, dss