Sing a New Song!

I’ve had a busy few weeks with very little time for writing!  But when I saw that today’s Works-for-Me Wednesday headline post is about finding balance in your life, I thought of something I’ve been doing on my way to work many mornings that helps me to feel balanced within this vast and complex world.

This is based on a hymn we sing in church, which is based on Psalm 96 and not specifically Christian.  If you are not religious at all, I bet you could “sing to the whole universe a new song” or something to make it work for you, too.  The hymn is called “Earth and All Stars” and begins like this:

Earth and all stars, loud rushing planets,
sing to the Lord a new song!
O victory, loud shouting army,
sing to the Lord a new song!

He has done marvelous things!
I, too, will praise him with a new song.

Here are the full lyrics.  There’s a verse about weather, a verse about music, a verse about industry, a verse about schools, a verse about learning and praying–all making the point that everything we Earthlings do can be part of one big Song we’re all singing along with the whole cosmos.  I’ve found that the structure of this hymn makes it really easy to think of new verses to work in whatever you’re doing or seeing, and singing this hymn in my mind helps to lift my spirit and connect me to the big picture.

It has a very joyous tune, and I love singing it, except for one thing: Two of the words are stretched out over multiple notes, so that we sing, “Sing to the Lo-o-o-ord a new song!” and, “He has done ma-a-a-arvelous things!”  I don’t sing very well and have trouble getting this to sound right, especially when I’m not singing along with a group, and even when I’m just “singing” it in my head it begins to bug me.  Luckily, back in the days of singing to my baby I realized that, in this particular song, this problem can be solved simply by repeating the right number of syllables–so, when I am singing it alone, whether mentally or aloud, I sing, “Sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!” and, “God has done marvelous, marvelous things!”  (I’m not a big stickler for gender-inclusive language, but it seems to me that a gendered pronoun is just not good enough for God, who is so far beyond gender…so I say “God” instead of a pronoun when it doesn’t mess up the flow of a song or reading too much.)

Anyway, in my morning walk from my son’s school to the bus stop and then from the other bus stop to work, I might sing several verses in my mind.  I always start with the original first line, like this:

Earth and all stars, loud rushing planets,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!
Gray cloudy sky, damp autumn breezes,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!

God has done marvelous, marvelous things!
I, too, will praise God with a new song.

Then in each verse, there are just two lines to fill in.  The second part of each line can be something “loud”, but it doesn’t have to be.

Roads of asphalt, loud honking traffic,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!
Walkers and bikes, scooters and buses,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!

God has done marvelous, marvelous things!
I, too, will praise God with a new song.

Rush-hour traffic starts to seem less annoying when I hear it as singing its own part in the Song, being part of a big smooth system in which we all have our roles, humming along.  A highlight of every day, though, is my forest moment when I absorb some peace from the small wooded hillside next to the sidewalk.

Sheltering hill, quiet green forest,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!
Squirrels and birds, rambling ivy,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!

God has done marvelous, marvelous things!
I, too, will praise God with a new song.

Then I might start to notice different kinds of people doing their different things in the neighborhood.

Dog-walking man, loud truck-unloader,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!
Cute donut clerk, newspaper reader,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!

God has done marvelous, marvelous things!
I, too, will praise God with a new song.

Even when I feel awful or the walking conditions are unpleasant, I can remember it’s all part of the Song, part of the fabric of life.

Cold, soaking rain, loud squelching sneakers,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!
Heavy book-bag, stiff aching shoulders,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!

God has done marvelous, marvelous things!
I, too, will praise God with a new song.

Wet sneakers and aching shoulders, marvelous?!  Well, maybe I get a little sarcastic about it sometimes (kind of like this hymn parody).  But maybe, at times like that, I can nudge myself to remember that God has done marvelous things other than dumping cold water on me and giving me weak spindly shoulders, and maybe I can notice some of those things, too.

Rain for the farms, growing our veggies,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!
Fast-draining streets, loud flowing gutters,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!

God has done marvelous, marvelous things!
I, too, will praise God with a new song.

A lot of these marvelous things were done by humans, actually, not God.  But wait!  All these humans, all these minds thinking up the clever things and reasoning and compromising to work out all these systems, all were created by the God in whom we live and move and have our being, as we say in church.  We’re all in this together, and in every part of it, we’re with God–to quote another song, He’s got the whole world in his hands.  It’s all working out.  Okay, time for lunch.

Leftover food, eggplant and mushrooms,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!
Hot lunch home-cooked by Daniel, who loves me,
sing to the Lord, to the Lord a new song!

God has done marvelous, marvelous things!
I, too, will praise God with a new song.

See how easy it is?  Easier than bagel songs and a little less silly.

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One thought on “Sing a New Song!

  1. Pingback: How to Get Kids to Behave in Church | The Earthling's Handbook

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