Psalm 96: Let the Whole Earth Sing

The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

December 29, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, an exuberant song of praise and an imperative to radical hope.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless the Holy Name.

In the scriptures, hope is both a spiritual and political act. Hope stands up in the midst of pressing contradictions and declares, “God is with us. We give praise because of this conviction”.


Walter Brueggemann defines these elements in true praise:

  • First, praise is an act of imagination, not description. It sees the world through the lens of faith and dares to line out a world engaged in dialogical transactions between Creator and Creation.
  • Second, hymns of praise are acts of devotion with political and polemical overtones. Their work is to engage in “world making.” The very act of praise itself envisions a new world, a different world, a world alternative to the one in front of us.
  • Third, the Psalms voice and are embedded in a larger narrative in which YHWH (God) is the key character and lively agent.
  • Fourth, doxology (praise) is the exuberant abandonment of self over to God. In singing praise, all claims for the self are given up as the self is ceded over to God.
  • And fifth, such songs do not passively accommodate to an economic, political, and psychological status quo. They run the risks of being disruptive for the sake of another world 

—- a “Christed” world in which God is intimately engaged with our lives.


Thus we can rejoice in the closing verses of this dynamic psalm:

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;g
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them.
Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice
before the LORD who comes,
who comes to govern the earth,
To govern the world with justice
and the peoples with faithfulness.

Psalm 96: 12-14

As the new week unfolds, and we move lingeringly away from Christmas comforts, we may forget what we have just commemorated…

Emmanuel- God With Us

As we re-enter a world still in frightening shadows, we must believe in the Light. As we slowly re-robe in the clothing of our daily responsibilities, we must not forget the Garment of Salvation we have just celebrated and received. 

Our Psalm calls us to be a daily witness to the Love we have been given:

Announce the Lord’s salvation, day after day.
Tell the Lord’s glory among the nations;
among all peoples, God’s wondrous deeds.

Psalm 96:2-3

Poetry: Hope by Philip Booth

Old spirit, in and beyond me,
keep and extend me. Amid strangers
friends, great trees and big seas breaking,
let love move me. Let me hear the whole music,
see clear, reach deep. Open me to find due words,
that I may shape them to ploughshares of my own making.
After such luck, however late, give me to give to
the oldest dance… Then to good sleep,
and - if it happens - glad waking.

Music: Sing a New Song – J.P. Putnam, sung here by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

I wanna sing a new song
Shout it out louder than before
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
Yeah yeah
Oh-oh-oh...

There is a place
We can seek his face
Changed in his presence
Touched by his grace

There is a sound
I hear it all around
Worship is rising
And people crying out

I wanna sing a new song
Shout it out louder than before
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing

It's a song of praise
A song for all of the redeem
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing

Never the same
He's taken my chains
There's freedom in Jesus
Power to save
There is a name
Like no other name (like no other name)
There's freedom in Jesus

(Come on, let's shout it)
Shout out his name
I wanna sing a new song
Shout it out louder than before
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
It's a song of praise
A song for all of the redeemed

Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I wanna sing a new song
Shout it out louder than before
Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
It's a song of praise
A song for all of the redeem

Let the whole earth sing
The whole earth sing
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Oh yes, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah say
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah)

One more time sing
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah)
Somebody say God, you're glorious
(God, you are glorious)
God, you are glorious
(God, you are glorious)

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