Old Saints, New Songs

Last week, Bradley Somers posted a column encouraging old saints to write new songs. Somers, pastor of PAXnorth church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, observed that Moses, David, and Paul all wrote songs in their old age that we still sing today.

He concludes:

When captured by God’s faithfulness and his grace over a long journey, the pilgrim saints of Christ write songs with depth and power.

Old saints we need your new songs.

Somers is right. Some songs can be written by any believer. Others can only be written with the perspective of decades of God’s faithfulness.

An example comes to mind:

This song might not be one of Dianne Wilkinson’s best-known hit songs. But it illustrates the point at hand.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of collaborating with her on her autobiography. She told me that she wrote the song after realizing that Psalm 23 “was written from the perspective of an old sheep.” She added, “I could talk about this a long time, because I am an old sheep, and He’s led me through the green pastures, and He’s provided for me for a long time. Now I know how David felt when he wrote those magnificent words…after the Lord had been his Shepherd for many years.”

And she’s right. Psalm 23 isn’t written from the perspective of a newborn lamb. But as a younger Christian, it’s a question I wouldn’t have thought to ask.

In the comments on Somers’ post, Vernon Wankerl asked, “If the songs we ‘older saints’ grew up with and love and find great meaning in are considered irrelevant to today’s ‘young’ church then why would we want to write new songs that would find the same reception?”

His point is compelling. It’s no more realistic to ask a 70-year-old to write like a 20-year-old than it is to ask the reverse.

A church that wants the contributions of its older members needs to learn to appreciate a variety of styles.

Photo of old man and sheep courtesy of Juan Manuel Nùñez Mèndez on Pixabay.