New songs

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre . . . Sing to him a new song.
— Psalm 33:2-3 ESV

When it comes to music, particularly music on Sunday, we are a divided lot. We have:

  1. Those who sing.
  2. Those who don't sing.
  3. Those who sing and "like the old hymns."
  4. Those who sing and "like the new choruses."
  5. Those who sing "if those around them sing."
  6. Those who sing as if no one were around them.
  7. Those who sing, but wonder why we sing.
  8. Those who sing though we wish they would not sing.
  9. Those who don't come until the singing is over.
  10. Those who are there early to hear the singing rehearsed.

Reading Psalm 33, several things are clear about worship and singing: God deserves our praise. Singing is one way we exalt him. Instrumentation is very fitting. New songs should be the norm. Think with me for a moment about "new songs."

There must also always be a new song, for God is always doing surprising new things.
— George Angus Fulton Knight

I appreciate what Matthew Henry notes about singing new songs:

“Sing unto him a new song, the best you have, not that which by frequent use is worn, thread-bare, but that which, being new, is most likely to move the affections, a new song for new mercies and upon every new occasion, for those compassions which are new every morning.”

What the psalmist says about new songs is interesting in light of the push-back worship leaders receive at times: "Why don't we sings the old hymns more often!"

Certainly, God is not anti old hymns, nor is this post a campaign for all things new.  What the psalmist wants us to see -- because God wants us to see it -- is that the nature of His constant work for us and new expressions of goodness to us necessitate new songs from us. 

Psalm 33 is interesting for what it says. It is also interesting for what it does not say. The Psalm does does not say, Sing to him a new song ... "if you feel like it," "if you like the style," or "if you like the worship leader," or "if you feel God has been good to you." That is because worship is never about us. It is about God who is good all the time and therefore deserves our praise all the time. So we sing to him a new song . . . and we don't have to wait until Sunday to do it.

Sing to him a new song!


  • "There must also always be ..." from: Knight, G. A. F. (2001). Psalms: Volume 1. The Daily Study Bible Series (Ps 33:1). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
  • "Sing unto him a new song ..." from: Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (786). Peabody: Hendrickson.