clap clap blog: we have moved

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mindless ditties do not glorify

Speaking of clapping, here is probably the best document I have come across lately:


Clapping has a dual significance in the Bible. There is the clapping of derision. Job speaks of hand clapping and hissing. Lamentations refer to clapping AT a person. Ezekiel speaks to those who had clapped their hands and stamped their feet against Israel. Nahum tells of the clapping of hands over a despised person. The modern equivalent of all this is the slow hand clap.

But the Bible also speaks of the joyful clapping of hands. When they made Joash king, they clapped their hands and said, "God save the king!" The psalmist gives a beautiful picture of the joyfulness in nature, singing, "Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together!" God is the cause of our joy. He is terrible - that is, He is to be revered. He will set in order - just wait until God comes into the scene. He is planning order and He will set up order. Clap and sing! God is in power.

We know the joy of Jubilee. God is gone up with a shout, with the sound of a Trumpet. In verse 6 of this psalm there is a triple injunction, "Sing - sing - sing!" How the people of God have sung since our Saviour ascended up on high. The world owes its music to the Church. What a pity if now the Church has to borrow some of it back again. We need to clap and sing our wholesome praises to our God - Glory to God!

Clap and sing with wisdom and understanding. "God is king of all the earth!" sings the psalmist. "Sing praises with understanding!" Sing wisely; sing skillfully; sing with spirit and understanding. Mindless ditties do not glorify God. The more we understand about the Power and Providence of our God, the more we have to clap and sing about.

God reigns over all the earth. Everything is in His hands. He is in control and He will order all things aright. The Shields of the Earth belong to Him. The safety and protection of the earth are in God's hands. We can well leave them there. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all! Clap and sing!
This connects, oddly enough, with a lot of stuff that's been in my mind lately. One thing is that I dug out my Danielson Famile collection for a certain project, and in checking out the first album, A Prayer For Every Hour, I was reminded that the band actually started as Daniel Smith's senior thesis at Princeton! It's an oddly secular and quotidian beginning for something that's become so cloaked in otherness and spirituality, but I think it's one of the things that endears Daniel to us, much more so than Sufjan, whose beginnings seem properly cloudy. It also reminds me of J0sh R1tter, whose salt-of-the-earth schtick I find impossible to swallow after going to a nerdy liberal arts college with him.

I also love this--for personal reasons, obviously, but also because I love the particularly American notion of making faith that was explicitly supposed to be personal something for public display by, ironically enough, making it more personal, and by taking something, speaking in tongues, that would seem like proof of posession by evil and making it into proof of posession by good. I like the idea of the holy spirit as something that enters you, something you can feel, something that fills holes in you, less for the way they sound like sex, and more for the way they make sex sound like something religious, and about the way they model I think the experience a few of us have had with music, to say nothing of the way the modern model for a musical performer is tied up with glossolalia, with all those "huh"s and "yeah"s of rock and, now, hip-hop, hypemen as a church choir, singers as a Greek chorus channeling the will of the gods--and the way speaking in tongues can be traced to a specific date and time without this diminishing the perceived authenticity of the spiritual experience. I kind of wish we did more of that, transforming the quotidian into the sublime, and keeping the two in balance simultaneously throughout, that kind of divine ambiguity.

Plus "Song Song Song" is the best track on the Final Fantasy album, but we'll talk about that later.

Clap and sing! Clap and sing! Clap and sing!