The Weekly Epistle 6/21/23

Hi Living Hope,
Most of those on the worship team know my distaste for the praise song, “I could sing of your love forever.” I just know that some “wise guy” will sing that at my funeral. One of the first times I heard that song I was walking through a park in Portland, Maine and there was a local Christian band on stage singing that song. I think they took the words of that song literally and were going to sing of His love forever, for the song went on and on and on. So, that ruined it for me. 

I still have an aversion for a song that is repetitive. That comes from a guy who could listen to a guitar solo go on for several minutes and grew up with the Beatles, “Let it be” being repeated 20 times or more. 

Repeat? Again? How often have I cringed by repetition in corporate worship. As an important aside, I really appreciate our worship teams at Living Hope who tastefully handle repetition. Having said that, might there be a proper place for repetition? 

God must have thought so in giving us Psalm 136. I’ll pause while you turn to Psalm 136. 

You there? I remember a worship leader doing responsive reading using Psalm 136. Since you are open to it in your Bibles you can see a phrase that is repeated. In the NIV it is, “His love endures forever” (others translate it, “for His steadfast love endures forever” or “for His mercy endureth forever”). Twenty-six times this phrase is repeated. As I repeated this phrase over and over in corporate worship, I thought to myself, “Alright already. Are you really going to have us say this 26 times?” He did. 

This gem of a Psalm rehearses God’s goodness, His delivery of His people, and His provision for them. With each new verse, another quality of God is celebrated. Perhaps by repeating the phrase, “His love endures forever,” it is cemented in our minds and hearts. It should never bore us to speak of His love. 

This has changed my view of repetition. Well, not completely. We don’t want to sing a song that just repeats the same thing ad nauseum or to create this emotional hysteria. We want depth. We want it to be theologically sound. But what I want it to do in my heart is to open up a fresh way to see the wonder and love of God. I need some reminders for I easily forget. 

And if I am not mistaken, where we get a glimpse into the heavenly throne room in the book of Revelation, we see the four living creatures pictured there saying (perhaps singing), “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” The passage says that day and night they never stop saying this (Revelation 4:8). 

This is no empty emotionalism or vain repetition but a proper response to a God who is worthy of this refrain. On that day, when I join these living creatures and all the believers from all time, from all over the globe, and the “worship leader” says, “repeat, again,” that I will not bristle or roll my eyes (internally). 

That His love endures forever should never get old. Does that mean then, I have to like, “I could sing of His love forever”? 

Blessings, Pastor Brian