“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.” (Psalm 96:1-4)
During Holy Week and then on Easter Sunday I was fortunate enough to enjoy a wide array of worship music. On Palm Sunday the children sang two festive songs and our choir director belted out a powerful and moving solo about Jerusalem. The bare cross stood in a front corner of the sanctuary. On Maundy Thursday an accomplished violinist led the choir in a somber anthem. Before we left the sanctuary in silence the paraments were removed and the cross on the altar was draped in black.
On Good Friday a group of us from Farmville went to the PNC Arena to listen to over eight contemporary Christian groups. The entire evening was especially moving as we joined thousands of others on a day commemorating the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. One of my favorite parts of the night was Matthew West performing “Grace Wins,” a hopeful song we have been using in Sunday School.
“There’s a war between guilt and grace And they’re fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof Grace wins every time.
No more lying down in death’s defeat. Now I’m rising up in victory
Singing, hallelujah Grace wins every time.
For the prodigal son Grace wins.
For the woman at the well Grace wins.
For the blind man and the beggar Grace wins.
For always and forever Grace wins.”
The realization that grace triumphs over guilt is a main part of the reason that Christians can sing so freely.
On Easter Sunday morning we gathered to see the cross covered in green foliage and flowers. Is there anything better than joining voices proclaiming “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” especially when accompanied by a glorious trumpet? That hymn, with words by Charles Wesley, never gets old.
The beautiful choir anthem was “Thine is the Glory.” Swiss writer Edmond Budry penned the lyrics which were set to a tune by George Frideric Handel.
“Lo, Jesus meets thee, risen from the tomb! Lovingly he greets thee, scatters fear and gloom; let his church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing, for the Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting! Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son; endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won!”
Happily for the Christian, glad hymns of triumph do not end after Easter. Every day is an appropriate day to sing of God’s salvation and marvelous deeds.