I went to a very traditional Scottish Church this morning. We sang three Psalms, unaccompanied, led by the minister because their usual Precentor has gone to visit family. As I struggled to keep up (I knew the tune of the first one but not the other two), I got to thinking about what we sing in church and how we sing it.
As a lay preacher, I encounter almost Heinz’s 57 varieties of hymns books, organs and organists, pianos and bands and clever (hopefully!) machines that provide the accompaniment: a kind of holy karaoke machine.
For me singing is an intrinsic part of worship. I love to sing God’s praises. And I admit to enjoying traditional psalms and happy-clappy choruses. I even play guitar. As well as piano.
Put like that it looks like I’m hedging my bets!
But this morning, I got to wondering why only have the psalms in a Christian church? Surely, the psalms was the hymn book of a pre-Christian people? Won’t the theology underpinning what we’re singing be….. well, not quite right?
But then we sang a bit in the middle of Psalm 22 and it described folk casting lots for clothes. An incident from the account of Jesus’ crucifixion. In a pre-Christian psalm?
But, hang on: when did the Trinity come into being? It didn’t start with Jesus. Remember, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” .
So if God is Trinity from the very start, we should expect to find clear pointers to Jesus in the Old Testament, and the Psalms.
Theologically soothed, I can relax and enjoy singing psalms (though I’ll continue to enjoy Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley…. and Graham Kendrick et al!)