Lesson 1: The Role of Music in Revival
Published Date: August 23, 2018
Last week we discussed whether God might be calling Christians, in this period of history, to focus particularly on sins committed against Jews, and whether that focus might possibly release revival. In addition, we remarked that revival is always coupled with prayer, repentance, a turning away from sin, and seeing things in the Bible that others have missed.
But what about music and song?
It seems that the history of revival has also been accompanied (no pun intended) by music — new music.
Sing to Hashem a new song, sing to Hashem, all the earth. Psalm 96:1 (TIB)
This verse encourages the idea of bringing new music into the world, but it does not specifically indicate that new music accompanies revival.
To see that connection, we need to look at history. First, along with the Methodist revivals in Christian England of the 1700s came a large collection of hymns by brothers John and Charles Wesley, many still sung in churches today. But the historical connection of song to revival is much stronger and deeper than the English in the 1700s. It goes all the way back to the Israelites and the Torah.
Take a quick moment and consider for yourself where the Torah first mentions the idea of singing a song.
Have you thought about it for a quick minute?
Ready for the answer?
The first mention of singing a song is in Exodus 15:1, the song that celebrates that pivotal event in Jewish history, the saving of the nation out of the hand of the Egyptians, and their utter defeat in the midst of the Red Sea.
Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and said, “I will sing to the Lord for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God and I will extol Him.” Exodus 15:1-2 (NASB)
The salvation of an entire nation, its liberation from bondage and slavery, its arrival at the bank of Red Sea, only to cross it the midst of walls of water that could kill in an instant, and its victorious exit out the other side in safety and victory. If that doesn’t fit perfectly with the idea of “revival” or “renewal”, then I don’t know what would. And this “revival” out of the waters of the Red Sea and out of the hand of the enemy was immediately accompanied by song.
Jews and Christians Sing Together
It is with this in mind, that I looked on with interest at Gidon’s Christian friend David Dekker, who signed our 9th of Av Declaration and attended the recent meeting with Yuli Edelstein in Israel. Over the last month, David has been promoting a new kind of event to bring Jews and Christians together in song in Jerusalem on September 3rd.
The purpose? To sing to the One True God who is King and Ruler over all, on the date that the Jews deduce that the world was created: Elul 23.
You can get more information about this at http://worldcreationconcert.com
The concert is a Jewish idea offered to the world. Who knows but that we will look back on this year as the beginning of a new kind of music — the joining of Jew and non-Jew together in song. I encourage you to check it out!
The beauty of joint worship between Christian and Jew first dawned on me when Jeremy Gimpel surprised us in Texas one year ago. I just checked my calendar to see that it was exactly one year ago to the very day (Gregorian calendar) as I pen this, that he came and spoke. Jeremy surprised us at the end of his talk by pulling out his guitar and teaching us a new song in Hebrew, one that he wrote out of Psalm 150 called Kol Haneshama. This is both a new song, and a new kind of gathering.
The idea of new music accompanying revival did not come to me theoretically. I lived it.
In the early days of the Charismatic renewal of the early 1970s, while I was still a young boy, I remember experiencing the brand new idea of “pulling out your bible” to find the words to the songs, rather than pulling out the hymn book.
From Apocalyptic Fantasia, a drawing by Charles Casselman 1972
We called them “scripture songs”. Many were simple, and many were catchy. Even today, my wife catches me singing in the early morning hours…
This is the day, this is the day
that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made…
But my childhood favorite was actually the words of the Exodus put to music. It would be years before I realized that this song, a song that I would always associate with the revival of the 1970s, was a song about revival of an entire nation:
“I will sing unto the Lord,
for He has triumphed gloriously,
the horse and rider thrown into the sea..”
If revival is upon us, or even if it is only coming soon, may we respond to God’s greatness and His redemption quickly, and may the words of David be ever so true that we “sing to the Lord a new song.”
P.S. Don’t forget to join in via live stream to the world creation concert on Elul 23!