Psalm 96 (C)

Sing a new song! A song of love, truth, justice, harmony, and peace.

Psalm 96:


Psalm 96 is an old song made new again. The psalmist reminds us that every time we experience the reign of God in a new or renewed way, we need a new song to reorient our lives to praise God. The new song reminds us that God birthed all that is and reigns over the whole world. We are invented to co-create with God a new song of love, truth, justice, harmony and peace.

The new song reminds us that the future belongs to God too, even when our current circumstances would indicate otherwise. The new song voices expectation and confidence in the future works of God. A future that God will create in and through and with us.  

I hope this Christmas we all receive Christ with joy and sing a new song of salvation.

I love the new song Julia Seymour wrote for the hymn tune “hymn to joy” based on psalm 96 in The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. (Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press. 2002.) Edited by Martha Spong.

Voices sing, "Our God is good all the time and everywhere,"
Prayers and praise and adulation in response to holy care
There is no one like our Mother, none pour forth in pow'r like her
Love that gives us life eternal, grace that makes our freedom sure.

False the idols that surround us, lies their word, untrue their claim.
Off'ring death at low, low prices, our souls' pain their only aim.
Always present, our God save us with the truth we have a home.
Resting in the arms of mercy, anchored souls no longer roam.

Let us then reject the mistrust, fear, and hurt that fill our days.
Join we all in celebration, taking up God's work and ways.
We are fam'ly, all united by the One who loves us best.
We are called to work together, til we reach our holy rest.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Breath Prayer:  

If you are new to breath prayer, I’ve recorded some examples:

Here are some simple breath prayers to accompany this psalm:

Meditate on truth

A simple prayer with one word on exhalation and one on inhalation: God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your peace and release my desire for perfection. 

Or you can split a longer phrase between inhalation and exhalation or put a phrase on both.  Here is an example: I yield to Love. Beloved, teach me of justice and guide me in truth.

Do what is most comfortable to you.  Breath prayer is a practice not something we do perfectly.  Some days will be easier than others.

Ok, everyone, take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.

This quote is from Elizabeth Lesser’s book Cassandra Speaks: When women are the storytellers, the human story changes. p. 219

I began writing Psalm reflections during Lent of 2020 shortly after we decided to close the church building, work from home, and worship via zoom.  It is a practice I have continued since.  Many churches use the Revised Common Lectionary (RLC) that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C).  Starting in Advent 2019, Third Church decided to worship with the texts from Year D, which is still not circulated as are years A, B, and C.  Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.  While we were using Psalms in year D, most other lectionary followers were using Year A.  In Advent of 2020 we rejoined those who use the lectionary in year B.  Advent of 2021 follows year C of lectionary pattern with Psalms in year C.    

I use the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s resource for lectionary readings to make text selections.

Other Year C Psalm blog posts:

Advent – Transfiguration: 1st Sunday in Advent Psalm 25, 2nd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Luke 1:68-79, 3rd Sunday in Advent instead of a Psalm the lectionary gives Isaiah 12:2-6, 4th Sunday in Advent Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 80, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Psalm 96, Psalm 97, Psalm 98, 1st Sunday after Christmas, Psalm 148, New Year’s Day Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Christmas Psalm 147, Epiphany Psalm 72, 1st Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 29, 2nd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 35, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 19, 4th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 71, 5th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 138, 6th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 1, 7th Sunday after Epiphany Psalm 37, Transfiguration Sunday (Sunday before Lent) Psalm 99

Lent: Ash Wednesday Psalm 51, 1st Sunday in Lent Psalm 91, 2nd Sunday in Lent Psalm 27, 3rdSunday in Lent Psalm 63, 4th Sunday in Lent Psalm 32, 5th Sunday in Lent Psalm 126, 6th Sunday in Lent (Palm or Passion Sunday) Psalm 118 or 31

Holy Week: Monday Psalm 36, Tuesday Psalm 71, Wednesday Psalm 70, Maundy Thursday Psalm 116, Good Friday Psalm 22, Holy Saturday Psalm 31

Easter: Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 114, 2nd Sunday of Easter Psalm 118 or Psalm 150, 3rdSunday of Easter Psalm 30, 4th Sunday of Easter Psalm 23, 5th Sunday of Easter Psalm 148, 6thSunday of Easter Psalm 67, Ascension Psalm 47 or Psalm 93, 7th Sunday of Easter Psalm 97, Day of Pentecost Psalm 104

Season After Pentecost (Ordinary Time): 1st Sunday after Pentecost (Trinity Sunday) Psalm 8, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 or Psalm 22, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 77 or Psalm 16, 4th Sunday after Pentecost  Psalm 30 or Psalm 66, 5th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 82 or Psalm 25, 6th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 52 or Psalm 15, 7th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 85 or Psalm 138, 8th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 107 or Psalm 49, 9thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 50 or Psalm 33, 10th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 80 or Psalm 82, 11th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 71 or Psalm 103, 12th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 81 or Psalm 112, 13th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 139 or Psalm 1, 14th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 14 or Psalm 51, 15th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 113, 16th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 91 or Psalm 146, 17th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 137 or Psalm 37, 18th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 66 or Psalm 111, 19th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 121, 20thSunday after Pentecost Psalm 65 or Psalm 84, 21st Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 119 or Psalm 32, 22nd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 145 or Psalm 98 or Psalm 17, 23rd Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 98, 24th Sunday after Pentecost Psalm 46.

Sources and notes:

“The psalm envisions the LORD as a divine presence in his sanctuary-palace. The presence is mediated through the attributes of glory and majesty, strength and beauty.” Mays p. 308

“The message is intend to arouse joy and evoke faith in Yahweh as the nations come to understand that he reigns as king over the whole world.” WBC p. 512

“Psalm 96 is on of the hymns of praise sung by Asaph and his choral guild before the ark after David brought it to Jerusalem. The procession brining the ark of the LORD represented in liturgical drama his coming to his palace-temple as king (see Ps. 24:7-10). The reality behind the liturgical act was the marvelous works of salvation, the historical occasion when Israel had experienced the intervention of the LORD, moments Israel remembered in epic story (Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel) and in poetry celebrating the LORD’s coming in theophany (Psalm 18; note the repetition of Ps. 29:1-2 and 98: 7-9). Phrases and clauses from Psalm 96 and from Psalms 97 and 98 appear in the prophecy of the exilic Isaiah (compare vv. 11-13 with Isa. 40:10; 44:23; 49:13; 55:12; also 59:19f.; 60:1; 62:11). Isaiah saw the return of the exiles from Babylon as a revelation of the LORD as king and as a demonstration of his rule that proved that the gods of the nations were nothing. The past “comings” of the LORD have a future. The liturgy remembers and anticipates. The psalm always places those who sing it in the presence of the LORD who has come and will rule the earth in righteousness and faithfulness.” Mays p. 309

“Every festival, or other occasion of worship, merited a new song to cellarage Yahweh’s new and renewed works.” WBC p. 513

“The “new song” is to express a new realization and acknowledgement act the future belongs to Yahweh. “A new song must be sung for a new orientation” (Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms, 144.) The new song is the song which breaks through the restraints of the present circumstances and voices expectation and confidence in the future works of God (see Krouse, II, 836).” WBC p. 514

“Is God, in Psalm 96, calling the earth that God “birthed” in Psalm 90 to joyously “dance” in God’s presence? Or is the earth to “tremble–writhe along with God” at God’s wondrous “birthing” of the earth? Whatever the meaning we choose for [Hebrew], the singer of Psalm 96 calls on the earth to participate in one way or another in the “new song” in answer to the work of God in creation.” W p. 29

WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.

Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.

Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Chittister Chittister, Joan. (2011). Songs of the heart: reflections on the psalms. John Garratt Publishing. 

WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.

Creach Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

DAFLER, J. (2021). PSOBRIETY: A journey of recovery through the psalms. Louisville, KY: WESTMINSTER JOHN KNOX.

W de Claisse-Walford, Nancy L. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 4-5. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 22. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2020. 

W Hopkins, Denise Dombkowski. WISDOM COMMENTARY: Psalms Bks. 2-3. Edited by Barbara E. Reid. Vol. 21. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2016. 

NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Lewis, C. S. (2017). Reflections on the Psalms. Harper One, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers. 

Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.

McCann McCann, J. C. (1993). A theological introduction to the book of Psalms: The Psalms as Torah. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Merrill, N. C. (2020). Psalms for praying an invitation to wholeness (10th Anniversary Edition ed.). London, England: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.

Schlimm Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 2018. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know.Nashville, TN: Abington Press.

Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim Press.

WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.

OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.

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