I had a discussion with some church members about singing. Their point was that the songs in the church should, in principle, be praise songs and that we should be joyful when singing. My argument was that the church’s circumstances in this world might justify a lament, even as the opening song.

Perhaps a relative of members received terrible health news, and when one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. But also after 9/11, or after the discovery of the Residential Schools’ gravesites. The church is not isolated, and we hurt as much as the people around us. Only in that way can the church offer compassion, comfort, grace, and peace. Can you sing a song of lament on Sunday morning?

Dr. Don Saliers writes:

“Praise and thanksgiving grow empty when the truth about human rage over suffering and injustice is never uttered. Prayer may be sincere, and God may certainly be praised and glorified in the absence of acknowledging such a truth about human suffering, but the revelatory character of prayer, liturgical or devotional, is diminished when no laments are ever raised.”

Don Saliers, Worship as Theology.

Dr. Walters adds:

“This concern is echoed loudly and clearly in the ultimate expression of the church’s worship tradition, the Psalms. Worship that does not express the full range of human experience will never be fully effective in bringing people into communion with God. The traditions of the church, then, are an aid to true worship because they give full voice to human experience.”

Michael Walters, Can’t wait for Sunday.

This past week, pastor Bryan Wolfmueller shared a fragment of his conversation with Dr. Gregory Schulz about the church’s failure to lament and how this is connected to our culture’s descent into death. Perhaps somewhat controversial: but it raises the question if the church is singing enough lament Psalms? And how does this relate to evangelism?

God left us with two-third of the Psalms as laments: intentionally or a mistake? (And when we add more songs, are we fixing God’s mistake?)

Just something to think about.


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