The idea expressed here is not something that I believe to be the case, but rather is simply a possibility I want to consider in the hope of enlarging your vision of what it means to speak of someday standing in God’s presence.
So I’ve been cruising the interwebs for the last couple of days hoping to run into some video footage of InterVarsity’s latest missions conference, Urbana 2012, which was held between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
I finally encountered this homemade video compilation at YouTube, though I could see evidence in it that a professional camera crew was probably documenting the event for something more formal to be released later.
The person who posted the video was obviously more interested in the music than the speakers, though there was an interesting excerpt of what appeared to be the opening of the event where someone was talking about the millions of kids who have passed through the Urbana events since their inception some 60 years ago. (Full disclosure, as a one-time InterVarsity Press employee, I am very biased towards anything InterVarsity does!)
Based on the scant bit of data I could gather from the video (and a second part posted by the same individual) the future of modern worship has a distinctively Latin flavor. But then, this was a conference with a world missions emphasis. (Another aside: If your church doesn’t occasionally sing a familiar worship chorus in another language, you’re missing out. There is nothing more worshipful than to realize that we are part of a larger body doing what we do on weekends; and to free ourselves from the confines of our local church buildings.)
There’s a point in the video where the audience is singing Revelation Song (Worthy is the / Lamb who was slain / Holy, holy is He) in what I believe to be Spanish. (The video quality is good but not great.) I believe the words to the chorus are something like “Santo, santo, santo…” (Corrections welcomed.)
But then there is a point — possibly due to the poor audio — where it appears there are several languages going on at once. At least, that’s what it sounded like on my bargain-basement speakers.
And it got me thinking.
What if the song sung by angels and resurrected followers of Jesus Christ is a song that had already been heard on earth. (Again, it’s probably something far greater; “…ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man…:” etc.). But what if?
What if the “Holy, Holy, Holy” of those falling on their faces before God in the book of Revelation had been already previewed for us. And what if, in the grandest of ironies, the song is known in English as “Revelation Song.” (Rev. 4:8 attributes this to the Living Creatures, but the text doesn’t preclude others joining in the song.)
Again, this is pure conjecture. And I don’t want to embarrass the writer of the song by attaching a significance to it that exceeds all commonly held parameters.
But what if some of the songs we sing in heavenly places are songs that we now know, with each one singing in their own language? Think about it, we’ve increasingly seen some of today’s worship choruses transcend the broadest denominational spectrum. And the internet takes songs around the world instantly.
But what of the people who didn’t live in the 21st century?
What if the saints who have gone before us live out their role as a “great cloud of witnesses” are eavesdropping on our weekend services and learning our songs? Do they sing along on some (not all) of them? What if their greatest delight is to hear sincere praise emanating from our lips as we sing the songs which advance the purposes and power of God in our generation?
What if those people who said after a good worship time, “I believe we’ll be singing those songs in heaven” were partly right? What if those who offered, “I believe that was a taste of heaven” weren’t completely off the mark?
What if there’s a way that people singing in different languages can be united by a melody, by harmonies, by chords; and that some day we will hear what it sounds like when an assembled multitude from across the spectra of time and locations join with a company of angels to produce a sound to honor God that is literally out of this world?
What if we turn out thoughts toward dreaming of heaven?