For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Let the Nations Be Glad and Sing for Joy

"Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy..." (Psalm 67:3-4, ESV)

I try to often remind our folks and church, and myself, that we need to "broaden our horizons" when thinking about the Kingdom of God.  Not that I want us to throw open the gates to embrace every cultural immorality that's currently popular the way many argue.  I'm just saying that we need to remember that Christianity is not an American thing; it's not just a 21st Century thing; it's not just about me and my local church.  

God has been at work accomplishing His plans and His purposes for His glory for thousands of years, across all continents, among thousands of various people groups, in the midst of a myriad of cultural experiences.  We need to realize that what I experience as "church", the songs we sing, how we do worship, etc., is just one of many expressions of God's people down through the ages. 

Again, I think we ought to be cautious about opening things up to any and all expressions; we ought to still be concerned with sound doctrine and so on.  But especially in terms of musical expression and what constitutes worship, we need to understand that the "great cloud of witnesses" represents all sorts of songs, in all sorts of languages, in all sorts of styles. Let all the peoples praise Him.  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy. 

I was reminded of this recently with a video making its rounds on the internet.  (Isn't the internet great?!)  It's an Icelandic band called Árstíðir and they are in a train station in Germany, taking advantage of those amazing acoustics to sing an old traditional Icelandic hymn called: Heyr himna smiður.   Loosely translated as Hear, Heavenly Carpenter or Hear, Smith of Heavens.

One loose translation of the song goes like this: 

Hear, smith of heavens.
The poet seeketh.
In thy still small voice
Mayest thou show grace.
As I call on thee,
Thou my creator.
I am thy servant,
Thou art my true Lord.

God, I call on thee;
For thee to heal me.
Bid me, prince of peace,
Thou my supreme need.
Ever I need thee,
Generous and great,
O’er all human woe,
City of thy heart.

Guard me, my savior.
Ever I need thee,
Through ev’ry moment
In this world so wide.
Virgin–born, send me
Noble motives now.
Aid cometh from thee,
To my deepest heart.

Hearing this guys sing so beautifully in a language I have no clue about is a reminder of the vastness of God's Kingdom, of the variety of people within it, and maybe a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven when we all get to learn to sing a new song.  

Here's the video. Amazingly, it will lead you to worship even though you don't understand a single word!

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