Speaking Of Life 2008 | A New Song
In November 1982, a moderately popular band was just about to be kicked out of the recording studio after an all-night session. The next band waited eagerly in the lobby. Feeling they were one song short, this nobody Irish band put their heads together quickly and revived an old tune they’d been using. Scrambling for inspiration, the lead singer opened up his bible to Psalm 40 and came across the verse, I waited patiently for the Lord, he arose and heard my cry, He lifted me up out of the pit, out of the miry clay. Ironically about forty minutes later, the classic U2 song “40” was born.
If you’re of a certain age and country, you may know the tune very well. It completed U2’s album War. Four years later, they went on to be one of the most popular bands in the world and still are. Most of the members of the band are professing Christians. The lead singer, Bono, is famously outspoken about his faith.
The song has an imminently catchy tune and a chorus-type ending in which the lyrics “How long to sing this song? How long to sing this song?” ring out. It’s a mainstay to close a U2 concert. The band leaves one at a time as the song fades and the crowd sings over and over, “How long to sing this song?”
We ask the same thing: How long – how long, oh Lord, until the world is made new and the Kingdom comes. How long will we see things only partly as they are. How long will we see through a glass darkly as Paul says? How long will we only know in part?
This song has been performed 400 times during the career of U2. People all over the world, many of them no friends of faith, have been singing scripture for years and didn’t even know it. The word of God finds its way into every ear, and you never quite know where it will come from.
David wrote this song first, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and it has resonated with people ever since. And here we find ourselves in a society that thinks it is post-religious, post-church, and free of any sort of theological belief, and these lyrics still ring true. This isn’t a tune sung in churches or on obscure AM radio station “Gospel Hours”—this song was written by one of the most popular bands in the world. Isn’t this so like God to get things done his way.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” ( )
Even when the “new song” is an old song, the gospel still rings out.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life