On Writing Songs


Christians like to sing. The very name of the new hymnal of the CRC and RCA spells out the reason: Lift Up Your Hearts. That’s what we do in our worship services and throughout life’s joyful soul moments. The sub-title of the new hymnal speaks of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.

Among God’s people there are gifted song writers who favored us with the fruit of their hard work; and able arrangers who bundled the songs together into the one magnificent book, all 1094 pages.

We sing when we feel faint and need our faith to be replenished. We sing when faith looks for exuberant words to express it. We sing when we seek to honor our Savior for His accomplished works. We sing when we praise the Spirit in His work. We sing when we consider the riches of salvation. We sing in words of assurance when we suffer grief. We sing when we long for the New Creation to come.  We sing when we have needs and we sing when we have abundance.  We sing in times of doubt and times of assurance.

One very important page in Lift Up Your Hearts is at the very beginning, the Table of Contents. It sums up the kinds of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that are found within the hymnal’s covers. The songs are all about God’s works and our responses: creation, providence, covenantal faithfulness, sacraments, worship, holiness, forgiveness, trust, grace, Word ministry, and the Christian high-days. I cannot think of any experience of believers that are not versified in Christian hymnody.

Now let me refer to one of the earliest and oldest song-writers among God’s people: Moses, “the servant of the Lord.” He was eighty years old when he wrote the magnificent song of Exodus 15. He was one-hundred-and-twenty years when he wrote another song. It is found in Deuteronomy 32.  Moses sang of triumph, echoes of what God had done. He sang of victory in muscled language. He sang of honor and proclamation.

Moses added a provision to the song in Deuteronomy of which he made his successor, Joshua, the son of Nun, a witness:  the children needed to learn these words! Moses said: “… they are not just idle words for you – they are your life.” (32:47)

Songs…they are our life!

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