I’ll make this one short. Make a joyful noise. Could be singing, could be a ‘woot woot,’ could be anything! I like singing myself. I really enjoy contemporary Christian music, and while there are a few hymns I love as well, I usually go for the new stuff when I’m in a ‘joyful noise’ kind of mood.
If you’ve been to church recently (ok, ever), you’ve heard people sing hymns. Now, my experience has been Midwest Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Catholic churches, primarily. Those folks seem to sing every hymn as if it is a funeral dirge. I think its a group thing. Or maybe just a bad habit. Every time I hear my congregation sing ‘Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,’ I cringe on the inside. It tends to be about as joyful as waiting in line at the DMV. Now, not every hymn is meant to be joyful – that is understandable. ‘Amazing Grace’ is a somber and emotional reflection on the Grace of God. There is joy, but it mingles with awe and a bit of pain. ‘Bourning Cry’ has a touch of joy, but basically always makes me cry. ‘Here I am, Lord’ is a declaration – also one of my personal favorites.
Contemporary music runs the gambit as well. There are songs that make me think. Songs that make me cry. Songs that make me long. Songs that awaken deep pain that cries out for relief – and finds it. Each one carries with it a touch of joy. I thought I’d share a few of my current favorites. I promised to make this one short, so I’m going to pick 10 – in no particular order because if I tried to put them in order I would never finish this. Its a mood thing.
1. ‘Shout to the Lord’ – Darlene Zschech. JOY!!! I LOVE this song. When I want to make a joyful noise I sing this one and SING IT LOUD.
2. ‘Jesus, Friend of Sinners’ – Casting Crowns. This one is more serious, but a great reminder of what we as Christians should be doing, but often forget.
3. ‘Glorious Day’ – Casting Crowns (they’ll be back). Joy is back – with a touch of somberness. A glorious reminder of a love we never deserved, but have anyways.
4. ‘Beautiful, Beautiful’ – Francesca Battistelli. The melody is haunting and beautiful. The lyrics are gorgeous.
5. ‘Blessings’ – Laura Story. This is a fantastic song to re-center yourself when life gets a little tilted. Sometimes things don’t make sense until later.
6. ‘Redeemed’ – Big Daddy Weave. Ok, so this one makes me cry with reasonable regularity. Its like being given a ridiculously extravagant gift you desperately want, but know is undeserved.
7. ‘What do I Know of Holy’ – Addison Road. This really speaks to my recognition of how little any of us truly understand God, but in that recognition, peace.
8. ‘Thrive’ – Casting Crowns. JOY JOY JOY. If you find yourself struggling to find your joy – listen to this one once a day. ‘Joy unspeakable, Faith unsinkable, Love unstoppable, Anything is Possible.’
9. ‘The Well’ – Casting Crowns. ‘Leave it all behind, and come to the well.’ This is a perfect meditation song. Leave all of the junk behind. Come to the well of unending peace, joy, and love.
10. ‘Just Be Held’ – Casting Crowns. This is another one perfect for troubled times, reminding us we stand strongest when we remember what our knees are for. ‘Your world’s not falling apart, its falling into place. I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.’
I am struggling with keeping this to 10. I may have to write a Part 2 another time. This music speaks to me. Yes, at times it brings the pain into sharp focus – but sometimes we need to face our pain. Each one of these songs, and so many others, hold joy as well as the other emotions they convey.
Music is POWERFUL. Listen. Think. Pay attention. You can find these on YouTube if you want to just check out what they are about. If you want other ideas for songs – email me at email@example.com and tell me what you are looking for. I will try to point you towards some that I think would relate.
The whole point – find music that makes you joyful, and then raise your voice. Don’t think you sing well? Who cares – its a JOYFUL noise, not a BEAUTIFUL noise.
And for heaven’s sake, if you are a church-goer – do your best to inject just a little joy into those hymns. God will notice, even if no one else does.
I’m gonna go sing now. Loudly and Joyfully.