By Steven Norris
“How long to sing this song?” Since they were propelled to stardom in the early 1980s, U2 has been one of the most successful rock bands of modern time. Known for its innovative, stadium-filling, anthemic rock sounds, their lyrics are frequently infused with spiritual themes, biblical allusions, and a clear social conscience.
One of their early albums closed with a track entitled “40.” Somewhat facetiously, lead singer, Bono, suggested that the name emerged from the fact that it took the band about 40 minutes to write, record, and mix it in the studio. More likely, it takes its name from Psalm 40, the source of inspiration for the lyrics.
I cannot help but think on those lyrics as we enter into a new chapter today — full of opportunities and challenges — in the life of our country. Bono sings, “I waited patiently for the Lord / He inclined and heard my cry / He brought me up out of the pit / Out of the mire and clay / I will sing, sing a new song.”
To be perfectly honest, I am ready to sing again. I am ready to roll down my windows and bellow out at the top of my lungs. I am ready for the sanctuary and meeting places of our churches to resound with song and praise once again. I am ready to sing with abandon like those stadium-shaking concerts I remember from my youth. But, more than anything, I am ready for a new song.
The old songs of hate, division, and outrage are tired. The old songs of hedonism and worldly pleasure ring shallow. The old songs of gloom and doom don’t resonate any longer. Instead, I am ready for a song of hope. I am ready for a song of resurrection and rebirth. I am ready for a song of joy and life.
Don’t miss the deeper truth of this passage, though. The new song doesn’t come because we merely will it to be. It doesn’t come by sheer force or determination. The new song comes because we wait on the Lord to place it in our hearts and in our mouths. It comes when we show up with our hands outstretched, ready to receive the new thing the God is planning to do in us and through us.
Throughout their tours in the 1980s and early 2000s, U2 would frequently conclude their concerts with “40.” The words of scripture filled the air as entire stadiums echoed the poetry of the psalmist, “I will sing, sing a new song.”
I dream of a day that this might happen again, not because we love the rhythms or melodies of a rock band on stage. Rather, my dream is that our community may dance and move to the rhythms of God’s Spirit. I dream that, with our feet firmly planted on the rock, the melodies of God’s new song will fly from our mouths and true revival will reign in our hearts.
How long, O Lord? How long, indeed?