Change the record!

BBC1 Top of the Pops screen as used in the 1990s

Psalm 40:3
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

Pop-pickers everywhere

THERE was a time when the popular music industry produced millions of vinyl discs with grooves that carried analogue information — the vocals and backings of songs. There were albums — and there were singles, with the all-important weekly chart of sales (I’m writing from a UK perspective) reflected in BBC1 *Top of the Pops* (1964–2006). People talked about records, then, not tracks.

And if someone was stuck in a complaining or despairing or critical state of mind, friends would say: “Change the record!”

Change of heart

How? It takes a change of heart, either for the moment — or permanently. When we come to a point of knowing Jesus a bit and trusting Him for what we don’t know — trusting Him in this work none of us really understand, dying on a Roman cross and somehow relieving us of the pressure of our sin — coming to trust Him to be Lord of our lives: two things happen.

1. There’s a lot we don’t understand and don’t see, but we find Jesus drawing us to Him. At the point we say “Yes’ to Him, the lights go on. We see the bigger picture, our life and His kingdom. And what we see, we can begin to piece together and understand that takes longer!).

2. We find we have a new song in our heart. A new feeling, a new sense of expression, joy that wasn’t there before, hope that was elusive before. And it may be literally a new song that we sing.

A new song — literally

Back to the music industry. Christian Contemporary Music is a significant industry sector. It’s big in Nashville. It breaks down into all kinds of genres and styles — not all the ‘Nashville sound’ — and songs by British songwriters and worship leaders carry a lot of weight. Where did all of that come from? Why is it that collections from Spring Harvest, New Wine, Hillsongs, Vineyard and the Songs of Fellowship compilation run into many thousands?

History repeats

“Love divine, all loves excelling” was part of the ‘new song’ that God put in Charles Wesley’s heart, a huge outpouring in the late 18th century, a time when even the great cathedrals had a meagre repertoire. Congregations didn’t sing much until the Methodists started a fashion with what amounted to the poop songs of the day. The revival of the 1860s brought a new crop, the mainstay of many hymnbooks today. These of course went with revival and renewal moves of the Holy Spirit at those times. The biggest shift came from the 1970s and is maintaining momentum today.

The Holy Spirit, experienced through deepening relationship and intimacy with Jesus, changes and goes on changing hearts. And everyone gets a new song — some become songwriters but most of us find ourselves singing songs that resonate with us, because they come from others whose hearts have been changed.

God speaks to us and in His way He says: “You’re mine now! So hey! Change the record!

Ian Greig: Blue Run blog (exploring Christianity)