“The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.” Zephaniah 3:17 (RSVCE)
Have you ever imagined God singing? Let’s make things a little easier; have you ever imagined Jesus, God-come-in-the-flesh, singing? If you are like me, it’s not something that often or even occasionally enters into my times of prayer, contemplation and reflection. So, it may surprise you when you fall upon the above passage found in the writings of the Old Covenant prophet of Zephaniah. The prophet, in just a few sentences, reveals a God singing loudly, and He sings a song of joy over His people.
One of the unfortunate omissions in most film portrayals of Jesus is that we barely ever see Him sing anything. The only exception may be the musical “Jesus Christ, Superstar”, but everyone is singing because it is a musical and the words sung don’t well reflect what Jesus would be singing in The Spirit to His Father and to us. Maybe we feel uncomfortable with God singing because we get the impression that there is something unrestrained about singing. It may expose the root of a deeper issue: the relationship of Jesus with human desires. When we see someone break out in song spontaneously we get the impression they have lost mastery over their desires.
But, our resistance to this image of God singing is an issue with us and the struggle we have with rightly ordering our desires and not with the good of singing. Singing is found throughout all of scripture. Singing arises out of the truest and deepest call for our lives and it originates in the very essence of who God is: love.
“The singing of the Church comes ultimately out of love. It is the utter depth of love that produces the singing. “Cantare amantis est”, says St. Augustine, singing is a lover’s thing. In so saying, we come again to the trinitarian interpretation of Church music. The Holy Spirit is love, and it is he who produces the singing. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who draws us into love for Christ and so leads to the Father.” [Pope Benedict XVI. The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 142]
What a different reading of Scripture, especially where you encounter the life of Jesus, it would be if you could imagine Jesus singing frequently. For in those songs Jesus would be bearing witness to the everlasting joy and boundless love which He fully embodies. There have many attempts in the Church’s history to disembody Jesus. Many heretical groups throughout the centuries have tried to deny that Jesus is God incarnate (come in the flesh). As human beings, our lungs and mouths come together for the purposes of breathing, speaking, and singing. As Benedict reminds us, the Holy Spirit produces singing in us and love is the source. Jesus, being eternally in the communion of love with the Father and the Spirit, would be the one who best uses song to communicate this overflowing love to us. I wanted to offer this as something we may bring more fully to prayer; the God who sings creation into existence and both sustains and redeems us with a song of love.
Going forward, I wanted to present some songs that convey a sense of how God has sung the story of redemption over my life. What I don’t intend to convey is a chronology of songs that speak to an earlier moment in my life and then no more. Many of these songs reprise and resound throughout my life.
Songs of longing, confessing, and seeking:
“Turn back, Lord, rescue my soul; save me because of your mercy.” Psalm 6:5
Beautiful Things by Gungor/We often consider God’s creation as happening in one moment of time; that Adam was brought from the ground and then things just go on. But, God sustains and continues creating. Every person who comes into existence is a new creation of God.
Restless by Audrey Assad/bringing some of St. Augustine’s words to song. St. Augustine’s confessions had a major impact on my journey of Christian conversion to Christ and the faith as confessed by the Catholic Church.
All Along by Remedy Drive/I was headed on the wrong road for many years, but ‘all along’ God was at work and drawing me to Himself!
Lord I Need You by Matt Maher/’Every hour’….that’s the reality. In my weakness and humanity, I realize that there is no point in which this cry of the heart becomes unnecessary!
Savior, Please by Josh Wilson/In the Mass, we say right before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, “but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Realizing we come to Jesus in our need and that he delights in our asking him for help and is always willing to respond to our cry!
Empty and Beautiful by Matt Maher/Jesus wins over me with His love.
Songs of salvation and redemption:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North/This is one of the songs that really expresses well the idea that Jesus has a ‘Word’ to sing to us! Tenth Avenue North is unique in that a few songs they sing convey words as coming from the heart of Christ, our Savior!
How He Loves by David Crowder Band/You can hear the trembling in Crowder’s voice and this is a normal reaction when we begin to brush up against the immensity of God’s love for us!
Strong Enough To Save by Tenth Avenue North
Deliverer by Matt Maher/The image of being just dry bones that are brought to life hearkens back to Ezekiel and the promise of God saying he will raise up his people and deliver them again. They had no idea how far God was going to exceed their expectations.
Break Every Chain by Will Reagan/As St. Peter says in the book of the Acts of Apostles, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved!!!”
Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North/Everytime Jesus encounters me in my struggles I picture him singing this to me.
Songs of praise and thanksgiving:
“Give thanks to the Lord with righteousness, and bless the King of the ages, so that your tabernacle may be rebuilt in you with joy. May he gladden within you all who are captives; may he cherish within you all who are distressed for all generations to come.” Tobit 13:10
Good to Me by Audrey Assad
Alive Again by Matt Maher
10000 Reasons by Matt Redman
God With Us by Jesus Culture
Revelation Song by Kari Jobe
Songs of the Mass and Communion:
“Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst—oracle of the Lord. Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.” Zechariah 2:14-15
We Are One Body by John Michael Talbot/ That the Church is both One and Catholic is what makes it different from every other group of people in the entire world. I am so grateful to be counted among this cloud of witnesses from every tribe, tongue and nation!
Kyrie by Matt Maher/A simple cry we hear throughout the Gospels is what we join in with during The Mass! “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Gloria/ We echo the Angels’ refrain at the coming of our Messiah, Jesus, into the world!!!
Remembrance by Matt Maher/When the world remembers, it is just memories. But, when God brings us to remember, He brings us to an encounter with His presence and communion with Himself. The word remember transcends our understanding when God is at work in it!
O Come to the Alter by Elevation Worship/In the Sacraments, we encounter the presence of Christ more profoundly than anywhere else in life. In Baptism our sins are washed away, in Confession our communion is restored when we have ‘fallen’ out of love with Christ because of sin and in the Eucharist, the union with Christ in the totality of Himself is realized!!!
One bread, One Body by John Michael Talbot/1 Corinthians 10:16-17: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (sung by Fernando Ortega)
Pangua Lingua by St. Thomas Aquinas/Favorite verse (English translation):
- On the night of that Last Supper,
- Seated with His chosen band,
- He, the Paschal Victim eating,
- First fulfils the Law’s command;
- Then as Food to all his brethren
- Gives Himself with His own Hand.
Laudate Omnes Gentes (Praise the Lord, All you peoples!) by Taize
Songs of Mission and Vocation:
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Borrowed Time by Matt Maher
This is Your Life by Switchfoot
Something Holy by Stellar Kart
Help Me Find It by Sidewalk Prophets
A Future Not My Own by Matt Maher
Live Like That by Sidewalk Prophets
Lay it Down by Matt Maher
This is just a sampling of music selections that represent songs that have entered my life over the years as a Christian. What are some songs that God has used in your life to ‘sing over you’? Please share these songs in the comments section below! God bless you all!!!