Chris Baker, pastor, Centralia First Baptist Church
I don’t follow baseball all that closely, but I hear they’re having trouble deciding whether or not they’re going to play this year.
Back in 1918, the season was in peril as well. Not because of a labor strike, but because of a World War. Attendance was down and, quite frankly, people struggled to care about something as trivial as baseball with everything else going on in the world.
The season plodded along, but they made it to the World Series . The Cubs and the Red Sox played game 1 on September 6, 1918. During the seventh-inning stretch of that game, seen live by only about 10,000 people, the band—yes they had a band at the games back then—started playing the Star Spangled Banner.
This was odd. For most of us, we expect the national anthem to be played before every sporting even. But it wasn’t so back then . In fact, it caught most people off guard.
The New York Times wrote the next day:
First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day’s enthusiasm.
The owner of the Red Sox saw the response and decided to open the next game by having the band play the song prior to the first pitch. As time passed, that became routine, even though the Star Spangled Banner wasn’t adopted as the national anthem for another 13 years.
Over time, sports fans became a singing people.
Christians, too, are singing people and we have been since well before 1918.
Today, we arrive at the very first song in recorded Scripture. It’s the first of many. We have a whole book of songs, the longest book of the Bible are the songs of Israel. The Psalsm were Israel’s hymnal. That alone should tell us God is serious about His people singing.
Listen to all the chapters of Scripture that contain a song as part of their narrative:
Numbers 21; Deuteronomy 31; Judges 5; 1 Samuel 18; 2 Samuel 1, 3, 22; 1 Chronicles 16; 2 Chronicles 5, 20; Isaiah 5, 23, 26; Ezekiel 19, 26, 27, 28, 32; Amos 5; Habakkuk 3; Luke 1, 2; Revelation 5, & 15. That’s not counting Philippians 2:5-11 that was probably an early Christian hymn or Song of Solomon and Lamentations both of which are essentially songbooks themselves.
God is serious about His people singing praise. Job 38:7 . . . tells us that at creation the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.
Commentator Philip Ryken said it well. “The history of salvation is sometimes described as a drama—the drama of redemption. However, this drama is actually a musical. It is impossible even to conceive of Biblical Christianity without songs of praise.”
For the full column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.