We pray the Word of Christ continues to live in you richly through the singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We encourage you to sing a new song each month of AD 2021.
Singing God’s Word brings hope and peace to all ages
We’ve often heard it said that Christmas is really “a special time just for kids”. We disagree. It’s a joyful time for all people, the young, those in their middle years, and especially the elderly. The birth of Jesus, and the events surrounding it, brought great joy to the elderly too. They sang as a result. Two songs recorded in Luke make this clear; The Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:68–79) and The Song of Simeon (Luke 2:29–32).
Zechariah sang his song of praise before Jesus’ birth. But Jesus had already come into the world. He was already incarnate! Jesus was merely hidden in Mary’s womb. Let’s hear again Zechariah and Elizabeth’s story.
Read Luke 1:5–25. What happens to Zechariah when he doubts God’s promise?
Why did Zechariah not believe?
What happens to Zechariah when God delivers on his promise?
Read Luke 1:57–79. Who hears Zechariah’s song?
God acts graciously, unexpectedly. In response, through the Holy Spirit breathed into them, people praise him!
Some, especially men, say “but I can’t sing.” We humbly disagree. Now, after taking into account certain medical and developmental or acquired disabilities, if you can speak you can sing, or at least learn to sing. It’s time to practise because, in heaven, we’ll be singing with Christ, the angels and saints for eternity!
God can make a barren elderly Zechariah and Elizabeth have a child. He made a mute man sing. He can make a grown man sing. Have you ever heard a male Welsh choir? It is a beautiful thing. Not only is it beautiful, it’s healthy for Christian families. Scripture, and contemporary research, shows that the most influential faith nurturer in the family is the father or a father figure.
Read Luke 1:80. What immediately follows Zechariah’s Spirit-led singing?
What lesson could our families learn from this?
If a father sings, his children sing. You don’t need to be a great singer. As Psalms 95, 98, and 100 say “Make a joyful noise”.
We sing with hope in the face of death
We sing the Song of Simeon regularly after eating and drinking Christ’s body and blood in the Service with Holy Communion.
Why might that be? Read Luke 2:22–35.
Not only do we hold Jesus’ body in our hands, but we receive his body and blood into our bodies. We share in Simeon’s joy of having God’s peace and salvation.
Although the text doesn’t state it specifically, traditionally, Simeon is considered to have been an elderly man for several reasons. First, Luke says that he had been “waiting for the consolation of Israel”, and “the Holy Spirit revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 1:25,26). Secondly, Anna the prophetess, who was also at the temple that day, is described as “very old” (Luke 1:36–38). This explains the reason for Simeon’s prayer for the Lord to “dismiss your servant in peace”. Simeon’s life had been fulfilled. The infant Jesus gives great joy to those nearing death. He saw and held Jesus, God’s Saviour for the world. His relief and peace in meeting Jesus were so great, he was happy to be taken from this life to eternal life.
We’ve heard of many examples of the profound impact grandparents have on the faith of children.
Was there an older Christian who had an impact on your growth in the faith?
During the Soviet era, countless Russian grandmothers (Babushkas) quietly and patiently read Bible stories and sang hymns to their grandchildren. They did so because their own adult children wouldn’t, or couldn’t, for fear of reprisal by the communist authorities. There are many stories of grandparents singing hymns to children as lullabies, and these abiding memories impacting the future faith of the child. As a child, Sarah Joy’s mother would sing hymns to herself that she had learnt in Sunday School, as it was the only thing that would calm her to sleep in the old car she was forced to sleep in alone.
In this uncertain age, grandparents and parents can help their children and families face death and uncertainty with confidence, by singing together the great songs and hymns of faith. Facing death is an occasion for singing, even in the family! It is a healthy, comforting way to confront death, and to grieve as those with hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).
Despite the blessing of modern technology and medicine, death is still very much a part of life. The COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it show that the world still greatly fears death. Now is an opportunity to teach our children to face death with confidence, especially through song. Many older hymns have done this. The most well-known is Anna Warner’s “Jesus loves me this I know”, especially verse 4:
Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way:
When at last I come to die,
He will take me home on high: (LHS 609)
At the Sing! Global 2020: The Scriptures Conference, modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty encouraged families to faithfully sing God’s Word. They also called on modern hymn writers to produce deep, healthy, and simple to sing songs. They also released one such song, Christ our hope in life and death. This is the final verse with chorus:
Unto the grave what will we sing
Christ He lives Christ He lives
And what reward will heaven bring
Everlasting life with Him
There we will rise to meet the Lord
Then sin and death will be destroyed
And we will feast in endless joy
When Christ is ours forevermore
O sing hallelujah
Our hope springs eternal
O sing hallelujah
Now and ever we confess
Christ our hope in life and death
CCLI Song # 7147502
Jordan Kauflin | Keith Getty | Matt Boswell | Matt Papa | Matthew Merker
© 2020 Getty Music Hymns and Songs (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
Sing with, and for your family, every day. Let the Word of Christ dwell and grow in you richly as you sing psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit.
Prayer: Pray for the families known to you and/or your group.
Blessing (perhaps bless each other richly by singing this)
May the feet of God walk with you,
and his hand hold you tight.
May the eye of God rest on you,
and his ear hear your cry.
May the smile of God be for you,
and his breath give you life.
May the Child of God grow in you,
and his love bring you home.
Thank you for refreshing the value of singing in our families. I appreciated the introduction to the newer hymn writers and will endeavour to purchase a recording. May God bless you and your family, especially Sarah Joy as she undertakes the precious task of home schooling. Janet Neumann