New Songs

Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, God’s praise in the assembly of the faithful.
– Psalm 149:1 (NRSV)

I used to sing. Not shower singing or holler-in-the-car singing or hum-to-myself singing, all of which I still do. But once upon a time, I sang in trained, auditioned choirs.

It was an exhilarating activity that I walked away from years ago, for a variety of perfectly fine reasons, but I miss it. Even before Covid-19 ground congregational singing to a halt for health reasons, I was missing the choral experience: The practice of tuning your ear and voice to be part of one sound. The acute awareness of breath and diaphragm and body. The rapt attention to a conductor’s slightest change in expression that could change the tide of the piece. The miracle of harmonization. The joy in being pushed by the efforts of those around you to bring your best work – your best voice – to the moment.

Community, at its most harmonized, elicits our best selves. Invites our best presence. Strengthens our talents. Teaches us new songs, studies them with us, practices them together, sings them together.

All of which prompts me to wonder if I’m missing choral singing only or perhaps also missing the discipline of learning new songs. All by myself, I have a habit of singing the same songs. Listening to the same Spotify playlist. Rehearsing the same worldview. Repeating the same prayers. Breathing at the same intervals, but not really drawing breath down to my diaphragm. Not really using the fullest extent of my range.

Sing to the Lord a new song, but how can we sing something new if we are not listening closely to one another?

Sing to the Lord a new song, but how can we sing something new if we are determined to be our own conductors, our own deejays, our own one-person bands?

I would sing you a new song, O God Most High, but first I must set down my baton, practice my deep breathing, and tune my spirit to the community’s harmonies.

written for the Daily Devotional

Here I Am

Here I am:
lost in the wilderness,
chasing sheep and rabbit holes,
out of touch with my own spirit and being,
but here I am — wherever “here” is.

Here I am:
unsettled and uncertain,
overwhelmed by grief and setback,
desperate for meaning from burning bushes,
but here I am — however “here” might be.

Come no closer:
my fire is out of control,
my spirit is untidy and unclean,
my ego is threatening to roadblock God’s will,
so come no closer — it is not safe here.

Come no closer:
I cannot find the life I lost,
I have denied myself to the point of void,
I keep stumbling over my humanity in search of heaven;
come no closer — there is nothing to see here.

Here I am:
on the wrong side of wisdom
and the foolish side of perseverance,
singing without hope and praying without words,
but here I am — until “here” changes.

cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

Sign Up for Rachel’s Blog

Milcah’s Inheritance

Milcah sang a lullaby to her granddaughter Rebekah, born to Bethuel, You are a queen, gifted and beautiful, a sovereign over kings. You are the gladness of ancestors, and the celebration of the future. And Rebekah believed her grandmother Milcah, owned the inheritance...

read more


We have listened to the wrong gods, O Holy Life, to the ones that say "Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" and the ones that say "Your help is in the rat race." Hear your people protest: "How long?" Hear your people confess: "No more!" We have said our prayers to...

read more

For the Sake of Expediency

The officials said to the king, “Jeremiah ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the people who are left in this city.” King Zedekiah said, “Here he is – I won’t stop you.” So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern. - Jeremiah 38:4-6 (adapted)...

read more


a sermon on Genesis 21:8-21 and Romans 6:1b-11, preached at Christ Episcopal Church (Shaker Hts OH) There is no nuance to it. There is no middle ground, there are not “both sides.” Sarah is in the wrong. Hagar is in the right. Sarah is wrong for oppressing Hagar,...

read more


Incline yourself like a dread warrior toward those you love, O Holy One. Count the hairs on the heads of Robert Fuller, Malcolm Harsch, Dominique Alexander, and comfort those terrorized by racism's awful fruit. Hear the cries of the children. Hear the cries of the...

read more

Divest and Defund

The white Church is long overdue to acknowledge and repent of its theological fostering of, financial contribution to & gain from, continued complicity and silence in the face of racism. Long overdue. The work of acknowledgment is, I suggest, the preliminary work...

read more

By the Oaks of Mamre

Stay awhile, O Stranger, for the night has been long and cruel and our souls are not yet wrung dry from weeping. Stay awhile, O Stranger, for the fires are raging on cultic altars built to sacrifice precious fruit to ravenous gods. Stay awhile, O Stranger, for the day...

read more


The voice of the LORD destroys the cedar trees; the LORD shatters cedars on Mount Lebanon. God makes Mount Lebanon skip like a calf and Mount Hermon jump like a wild ox. The voice of the LORD makes deer give birth before their time. - Psalm 29:5-6 & 9a (CEV) These...

read more

When We Consider

O Sovereign Joy, When we observe the creative work of your fingers, we are awed and blessed. How sweet is the morning dew! How comforting is the moon! How faithful are the tides! We pray against the destructive work of human hands that harm your creation: the plastics...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest