Lament 2: Singing the Lord’s song in a strange land

Should we sing laments? Let me first distinguish: I have no doubt at all that there is a place for lament, both in the common English sense and in the technical psalms-of-lament sense (see previous post), in our worship. We should, when gathered before God, weep for and decry the evil in the world; we should wrestle with the disjunction between our confession and our experience. My question is whether we need do that in song. (Marva Dawn, in Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, notes that the Psalms of Lament are excluded from many lectionaries, and so lament is excluded from the whole of worship, not just from song (p. 176); this seems to me indefensible.) It seems to me that common-lament might most easily find its way into our prayers of intercession, and...

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Lament 1: Yet will I hope

Pastors complain about songwriters; it was no doubt ever thus. Somehow, no-one has ever quite written the perfect song to conclude your brilliant sermon, or to express (your sense of) the collective mood of your people as they gather together. One of the standard complaints in recent years is the lack of songs of ‘lament’. This, it seems to me, bears some reflection – enough that I want to spread it over at least a couple of posts. Three immediate questions occur to me: what is ‘lament’? Should it be sung? Does the coming of Christ make any difference to its reality? Ever since Gunkel and Mowinkel, ‘Lament’ has been one of the standard recognised forms of the Psalter. That said, the psalms of lament are not,...

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