In my first church job the Pastor gave me a bit of advice that stuck. Children learn most of their theology from the songs that their church sings. They may not remember your sermons, but they will carry the songs they sing in church the rest of their lives.
This is not just true of the kids. Whether we are talking adults or children, most theological training is disguised as congregational singing. The Apostle Paul tells us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
We sing what we believe, and what we sing will be what the next generation believes. That is why the Psalter, the Book of Psalms, has been central to the identity and worship of God’s people since the rule and reign of King David. They have been the warp and woof of worship for the Christian Church for millennia.
But in America, the psalms have been forgotten. Often replaced by trite and vapid worship choruses, the Psalms have been lost to a generation desperate to know how to worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am not just complaining that lyrics are simple or short. A stream can run clear whether shallow or deep. Too much of the Church’s music is disconnected from the history of salvation. Like throwing a beautifully carved pulpit into the alley because TED talks are using clear plexiglass, we have tossed the Psalter in favor of the fads and fashions of a lost generation. And like the pulpit’s wood that spent years soaking up the gospel message, the Psalms ooze gospel. They wear Christ’s smudge and share Christ’s smell. but not just in the ways that resonate with one emotional state. The Psalms run the whole gambit of human experience and teach us how to live in all circumstances with faith.
That is why I’m excited about My Soul Among Lions’ project to set all of the psalms for congregational worship. On their website they tell their story, and it is an encouraging read.
The more versions of the Psalter that the church has available the better, and My Soul Among Lions is a worthy entry into the conversation.
My kids and I listen to their CD’s on the way to school in the morning and enjoy the rich lyrical content of the metrical settings of the Psalms. In fact, in my opinion, that is the strongest aspect of their Music. The settings are natural and poetic, giving the psalms a fresh perch from which to bellow.
I do not have a southern accent, I do not listen to southern gospel or country music. I am probably listening to classic R&B while you read this. But the church is a converting and translating institution. We are teaching the world to bring themselves up the mountain of the Lord. These Psalms, translated and sung with a southern musical accent, are evidence that the whole world is being brought near to God. I have thoroughly enjoyed what My Soul Among Lions has accomplished thus far.
If you are interested, you can listen to their albums already released.
And you can be a part of their upcoming album by supporting their Kickstarter.