The phrase, “New Song” occurs several times in the Psalms (e.g., Psalm 33:3, 40:3, 98:1, and 149:1). And it appears in Isaiah 42:10 and two places in Revelation (5:9, 14:3), meaning that prophets and singers in heaven recognize the importance of newly created songs. Here is what Psalm 98:1 says:
“Sing to the Lord a New Song, for he has done marvelous things”
Why “New Song?”
Why is this an important topic and why am I writing this blog? One obvious reason is that a New Song can deliver a fresh new way to celebrate the magnificence of the Lord! The “Preaching sensation of London” in the 1800’s, pastor C. H. Spurgeon, has a commentary on Psalms, including Psalm 149. Commenting on the phrase “new song” in verse 1, he gave one reason to include rousing, new songs:
“Young converts are not to be restrained in their joy. Let them sing and dance while they can. How can they mourn now that their Bridegroom is with them? Let us give the utmost liberty to joy.”
Here’s another reason:
Recently, I invited a couple that lives near our home to visit our church. The husband had asked me if the worship music would include hymns. He was concerned about the loud music in some churches, which was good for young people, but not him! My somewhat lame response was that our worship team did include some hymns occasionally–sped up a little! There was truth in that response, as it is in many churches. Sadly, they decided to attend another church. Regardless of reactions like this, we have not given up all the hymns but often have added to them or just let the modern instruments shine through the amazing lyrics from the past.
A Famous Addition to a Hymn
One way to create a new song is to add something to an existing hymn. Although controversial to some, Chris Tomlin was asked to write an addition to the famous hymn, “Amazing Grace.” The request came from the producers of a movie on the life of John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace[i]. The story of Newton’s life is an amazing example of a radical conversion. Newton had been a slave trader who cried out to God for rescue from a huge ocean storm. Newton later became a pastor, writer of hymns, and supporter of William Wilberforce who was a main figure in the abolition of slave trading in England.
Tomlin added a powerful verse that began with these words, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free” and more. This version of Amazing Grace was added to Tomlin’s album, “See the Morning” in 2006 and was nominated for a CMA Dove award. This addition created a “New Song.” I know the power of this addition because it touched peoples lives in Home Groups where we led worship.
Maybe this example can give you a reason for supporting the idea that hymns of the past can be rejuvenated and made an even greater blessing to listeners.
The Best Reason for New Songs
The greatest blessing the Lord has allowed us to experience with our online station is to bring listeners to Christ! And the major reasons for most of the listeners who contact us about Jesus are the strong New Songs such as Waymaker[ii] and Raise a Hallelujah.[iii] For both songs, we use the longer, “spontaneous” versions and that creates something new compared to the shorter radio versions. These two songs are (so far!) responsible for bringing more than 20 new believers to Yeshua! We believe that the longer versions have more Spirit, and the listeners are more likely to hear the presence of God! The same goes for the many songs today that allow the singer to be spontaneous after the main part of the song is done. These added elements are so touching that they may become part of a New Song someday!
Look Forward to More New Songs!
Our founding supervisor of music, DJ Ericson, recently told me that he was receiving a lot of new songs from our supporters such as Passion and Bethel Music, Sparrow/Forefront, Michael W. Smith, Hillsong, Elevation Worship, and more. Also, Jeremy Camp contacted us recently to announce a new project that is coming soon. That was quite an honor for us!
And we are looking forward to a new song by Chris Tomlin and Brandon Lake,[iv] called “I See You.” This song includes the main phrase from one of the most well-known hymns, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”[v] That’s a great example of using a hymn from the past to brighten up a new song!
Thank you SO very much for reading these blogs and listening to iworship423—we appreciate you greatly!
Pastor G. Harold
[i] The movie, Amazing Grace, was produced by Walden Media in 2006.
[ii] Michael W. Smith, Vanessa Campagna, and Madelyn Berry, from the 2019 Surrounded Event in Nashville.
[iii] Jonathan Helser, Melissa Helser, Molly Scaggs, and Jake Stevens, Bethel Music (CD with this song is listed in on our “Store” page.
[iv] See videos of new song online (YouTube, Bing, etc.) by Chris Tomlin of Passion and Brandon Lake of Elevation Worship.
[v] The complete hymn of Great is Thy Faithfulness was written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923.