This exhortation concerns something we do in every worship service, and consequently it is possible for the whole thing to start becoming “old hat.” I am referring to our practice of psalm singing, and not in a way that we can simply check off our list. “Sang my quota of psalms today, or this week. Off to do something else.”
This is something that we get to do. This is an enormous privilege, and not a burdensome duty. “Is anyone merry?” James asks. Let him sing psalms.
We are told in Scripture that we are to sing a new song to the Lord—this is not a reference to how old the song is, or how long you have known it. The word refers to the quality, the freshness, of the singing. When the Spirit moves, ancient songs come alive. When He does not, the song may have been written last week—and while it may be contemporary, it is not new.
At the same time, we must also insist that while songs are not necessarily be dead because they are old, they can be dead and old both. And songs of recent composition can be really good, or bad, as the case may be. But if sluggish people sing them, regardless of the character of the composition, the root problem will become apparent quite quickly.
I say all this in part as a reminder of our psalm sings/practices after the service. We are not doing this in an attempt to rearrange the musical furniture. That can be a help, but that is not the heart of the matter. So you are warmly invited to check it out, prepared to overflow with songs you know, and eagerly to take in songs that you don’t know. And done right, both kinds will be a new song.