Don’t let your praise die

If people don’t praise God, scripture says, the rocks will cry out. I’d like to hear that. I wonder what a rock would sound like, cracking praise from its sharp granite edges. But rocks haven’t had a chance to practice praise, because in kitchens and cathedrals, in song and dance, on purpose and by chance, God’s people praise him, even in tough times. Like now.

With mouth organs and pipe organs, we praise God, we people who love him. Through the ages, with harp and timbrel and ten-stringed lyre. With cymbals and drums and horns. With pot lids and spoons. With fiddles and zithers. On pianos and trumpets, guitars and trombones. We praise God. We who love him. We do.

We praise him in nature, on hikes and walks; at home, in bathtubs and showers. We praise him at work and often at play. We praise him at night and all the day through. And God dwells in that praise. It’s true.

His voice is heard in the songs of birds, the rustle of branches, the roars of oceans. And whether the praise takes the form of a child’s lisped Sunday School song, a tenor’s oratorio, or a senior’s faintly remembered gospel hymn, God dwells there too. He does.

Songs often bust out of me, not always at the best place or the best time. That happened at work one day, back in the staff kitchen. On my way back to my desk at the other end of the office, I noticed that my colleague, whose office sits closest to the staff kitchen, had shut her office door to block the distraction. I cracked it open. She looked up. “The next time I sing in there,” I said, “I’ll shut your door beforehand myself!” She laughed.

I know other songs, of course, and sing those too. But most days hymns and praise songs drift out without even trying. It’s harder to keep them in than it is to let them out. My parents did the same, so it’s an honest inheritance. A good one, and I’m grateful.

As I write, the world is encompassed in an invisible war. We’ve hunkered down in our homes, COVID-19 riding our backs. The disease has stolen so much, filled too many hearts with sorrow and fear of tomorrow. But cowering in fear has never been part of God’s victory plan. Worship music has. The Old Testament records an account of one battle between the Israelites and their enemies, where God ordered worship singers and musicians to march out first. Victory followed.

We can’t meet in church. But we can meet online and in groupings of cars to pray for our world to be healed. We can flood our homes with music and praise. We can leak the song into our neighbourhoods, as many have already done. And when we sing praise to the One who inhabits praise, who alone is worthy, we’re already running the victory lap.

Praise God with stringed instruments…and every other way you can!
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