Repeat after me: “Give Thanks to the Lord” – Psalms 107

“Give Thanks to the Lord” - Psalms 107

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Sounds kind of repetitive, doesn’t it? (duh…)

As I read today in Psalms chapter 107, I noticed this phrase over and over. As a matter of fact, it’s mentioned five times in this chapter alone. Which got me thinking about several things.

First – if God’s word says it once, it’s important. If it’s repeated five times in the same chapter? I think we need to put some focus on doing it!

Now, think about this: back in the day when the Bible was being written down, they didn’t have Mac or Microsoft. They didn’t have MS Word or any publishing software. They actually had to write things down… with ink on paper (papyrus?)… by hand… really!

So, I imagine it was difficult to put emphasis on text like we do today. Today, we just put text in boldface, italic or even underline. We can use different colors and even different fonts. But before the days of Microsoft Office, writers had to repeat phrases for emphasis. Here’s an example:

And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” – Isaiah 6:3 (NIV)

“Holy, holy, holy” in this case is to be SHOUTED: “HOLY!” The writer is putting special emphasis here (with his trusty pheasant quill) and it’s not to be read in a boring manner.

And, as I think about it, repetition is not an unusual method of emphasis within poetry, theatre or music, or even visual arts, including painting, sculpture, architecture, and more.

Which leads me to the other thing this repetition made me think of – repetition in worship songs. My father calls this “7 – 11 syndrome”. What he means is, sing seven words and repeat them eleven times. Good one, Dad. My recent experience as worship leader brought this topic to the forefront repeatedly (pun intended). Seems a few people on the management team considered some of the music I selected to be “too repetitive.”

Of course, this goes back to what I’ve written about before about how easy it is for certain “bean-counter” types to stand in the back and focus on criticism of worship styles or music choices rather than focusing on worshiping. So – I won’t go into that again here.

It’s not as if worship writers today have nothing to write about. It’s not as though Tomlin, Zschech and Redman are incapable of finding enough words or phrases that rhyme. The popularity of their songs is a testimony to their heartfelt, personal worship habits – and how people interested in worshiping in spirit and truth can relate to what they write.

There are just some phrases that bear repeating. I know with my own personal worship, sometimes it takes a few times repeating a phrase, or even a word, until I am able to really press into what I’m singing. Sometimes it takes longer than other times. I’ve experienced 45 minute worship services where a single song lasted ten minutes or longer – in a free-form fashion that no one could have planned for. I’ve seen a worship leader would hone in on a single phrase or word and lead his people in a new song that grows and contracts in intensity of worship – and I’ve seen how the presence of God explodes on the scene as a result.

Worship comes in all shapes and formats. And – as we’ve discussed before, worship is a lifestyle, not just singing on Sunday mornings. For my “bean-counter” friends, your gift in God’s Kingdom is certainly no less important (we creatives really need your talents!). However, just think how much better it would be for us to be as concerned with how we are participating in (and how we can help others participate in) whatever the style or genre rather than criticizing it.

All this is a bit more personal than I had intended, but apparently there are a few lingering things on my heart concerning this issue.

Ah. That feels much better.

Lord, I just want to be able to worship You in spirit and in truth – focused on nothing other than thanking You, over and over if necessary, and giving You the praise and worship that is due You. Fill me with Your praises, Lord.

grace & peace,
e

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  1. #1 by createdtopraise on April 2, 2008 - 5:50 pm

    Ooh, good stuff here. I sometimes think that repeated things make it a little easier for people “let go” in worship. Instead of trying to keep up with the words on the screen, they can take a moment to really ignore everything around them and just worship. Just a thought.

  2. #2 by Jaqua (Jāy 'Quāy) on April 3, 2008 - 8:30 am

    Excellent point! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. #3 by Johnson K on December 27, 2009 - 4:41 am

    Hi there,

    Thank you for your article. I came across it when I was searching for something else. I am one of those “critics” who thought that the modern day worship is too repetitive. But you have raised some good and sensible points. Thank you for opening my eyes!

    God Bless you , and continue with the repetition as the Holy Spirit of God leads you.

    Blessings,
    J

  4. #4 by Indah on October 24, 2010 - 3:30 am

    I like repetition, ahahaha.. cause sometimes I feel like I’m like diesel, needs more time to warm up.. so by singing repetitive lyrics.. I might finally get ‘deep’ within the song I sing and absord the meaning instead of just singing it with my lips 🙂

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