Sophie Sings a New Song

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“Do it again.”  Three words that make kids laugh and make parents go insane.

chesterton02_01This past Easter Sunday morning, I was making a big pancake breakfast for my family. Tricia (my wife) was having a nice sleep-in, and Sophia (our daughter) was patiently awaiting her feast.  A few years ago, I put together an Easter playlist for my iPod, and of course I added some songs from Resurrection Letters, Volume II this year.  Much to my surprise, my little two year old started singing along to “All Things New.”  Every time those three words (“all
things new”) came up, she belted them right out.  I read in an interview where Andrew said he wanted his songs to be the kind that are still being sung years from now.  Be encouraged: the next generation is already singing them.

Those repeated words, “all things new,” are what caught Sophie’s attention.  Everyone with kids knows that they’re in for some annoyance when you’ve done something funny, and they want you to “do it again.” And again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  That’s not anywhere near enough “and again”s
But there might be some wisdom in the child’s repetition that we’re missing.  G.K. Chesterton wrote,

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. (Orthodoxy, Chapter 4)

Or, as Rich Mullins wrote,

Well we are children no more, we have sinned and grown old
And our Father still waits and He watches down the road
To see the crying boys come running back to His arms
And be growing young
Growing young

Perhaps our inability to abide repetition, our constant looking for something “new,” has a lot more to do with our weakness and failure than it does our becoming “mature.” Lately, I’ve been trying to gather the strength to “do it again” as many times as Sophia requests it, and I’ve been trying to summon the wisdom to find joy in the repetition.

The new song Sophie was singing is paradoxically older than the universe.  When Scripture refers to a “new song,” it’s not referring “a song recently written,” but a renewed song, or a song of renewal.  “All Things New” and every song that conveys enternal truth is the repetition of the ancient paths which will one day be fully renewed.  It is, most definitely, a song worth repeating.


12 Comments

  1. Art

    The concept of eternal newness is fascinating to me. It amazes me to think that God can treasure monotony. Our repetition is tiring and meaningless. Yet His repetition is new!

  2. Ruben

    That was beautiful, we all need a new song. Sometimes life beats us down and makes us lose sight of what is really important. We turn into empty husks, going through the motions to pay the bills and survive, neglecting the things that make us human. I have tried hard to recapture that spirit but have only few moments when I can sustain it

  3. Greg Sykes

    My oldest son (age 6) has been singing along to The Good Confession since he first heard it. He’s been asking lots of questions about asking Jesus into his heart and I have this sneaky feeling that Andrew Peterson has already stolen my thunder and my little boy has been redeemed while singing the words, “I believe He is the Christ, the son of the living God . . .”

  4. Aaron Roughton

    That Chesterton quote is magnificent. My heart welled up with hope when I read it, as it does any time I remember God’s joy in His creation. One thought that occurred to me is that I’m very hypocritical in my disdain for repetition. I can be easily worn out by my children, but I find the repetition of sin patterns comfortable and easy. I am so thankful that God has infinitely more patience than I. Thanks for posting.

  5. Tony Heringer

    Travis,

    Someday I’ll break down and read Orthodoxy. It gets quoted so much I probably have bit by bit :-).

    I think of this quote just about every time I see a sunrise or sunset and “Growing Young” is one of my favorite Mullins tunes. Thanks for putting them together in such a clever way.

    I love this thought:

    “Lately, I’ve been trying to gather the strength to “do it again” as many times as Sophia requests it, and I’ve been trying to summon the wisdom to find joy in the repetition.”

    That attitude will serve you well during these tender years. I don’t miss the work of having toddlers around but I love the recollection of those “do it again” times. They are some sweet ones and I pray you all collect many of them too.

  6. kevin

    Am I the only person who is reminded of Mark Twain when I hear GK Chesterton? There’s something magical to me about saying something really funny while at the same time conveying a really serious point.

    Could it be that need for constantly new things evidences our general lack of satisfaction? If the thing satisfied, then would we grow tired of it?

    I am a carpenter that listens to his ipod on headphones all day, sometimes sermons, sometimes music. Today I listened the RL2 for about 3 hours straight, and there was no boredom. Tomorrow may be different, but I got choked up more than once during “Have your way”, “All things new” and “Hosanna”.

  7. Paula Shaw

    It seems as though, although I’m really old (or it seems), I still learn more completely by repetition. And, I really do think, much like Greg S., that in listening to songs of our faith, we become more aware of, and learn so much about our God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have had RL2 in the CD player in my car since I got it back in the Fall with the “pre-order” folks. I listen to it daily while running errands, and I find that as soon as “The Good Confession” hits the last note, I hit the little button on my steering wheel that fast-forwards CDs to the next song, all so it will continue to play through RL2 one ore time. I catch it every time, and when “All Things New” begins, I ALWAYS take a deep breath and settle in to, what seems like the arms of Jesus. I have yet to grow tired of the songs on that CD, and I think it’s because they are so full of the Truth. And with every AP CD I own, from “Clear to Venus” to “RL2”, God seems to speak to me those words we all long to hear, “I love you, you are my kid, and you can believe I will never let go of you.” As a person who seems to NEED repetition, I know I will never grow tired of hearing how much my Father loves me! Travis, it’s such a wonderful thing that you love your Sophia enough to repeat things for her as often as she asks. She will grow up knowing your love for her, and she’ll also know she can count on you to show her, over and over again, how deep that love is, and from Whom it comes.
    All of this reminds me of the song “For the Love of God” on “The Far Country” CD…..it all comes back to His love, doesn’t it? =)

  8. Leanne

    Hi Travis, Great thoughts. It reminds me too of George MacDonald. In fact, I’ve often wondered if Rich Mullins read a lot of MacDonald when I hear “Growing Young.”

    MaeDonald talked a lot about childlike faith and wonder and the idea of growing young, both in his sermons (The Child in the Midst) and in places like The Golden Key, with the Old Man of the Fire, who is but a child although in the story he seems to symbolize ultimate spiritual maturity. Like our buddy Rolland Hein observes about The Golden Key, “spiritual bodies that inhabit the ‘high countries’ to which the travelers go, keep becoming younger in physical vitality and more childlike in spirit.”

  9. jtilton

    I too look forward to the day when Christ will do away with that awful “f” word. Familiarity. I find myself always fighting to find again joy once known in things great and small.

  10. Peter B

    Travis, Tony, et al: thank you for the encouragement. Lately I’ve been so, so tired… and it’s sad how much I’ve lost the ability to “do it again”. Christ is truly our only hope.

    Greg: I’m seeing the same sort of thing with my six-year-old daughter. It’s simultaneously exhilarating and intimidating… but when I hear my little ones singing these beautiful truths, that grin jumps unbidden to my face; the unexpected joy is a welcome companion.

    AP: Keep the music flowing. We’re praying for your joy and your strength, and that sweet family of yours.

  11. Profile photo of Curt McLey

    Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    With Travis’s article and the rest of your comments on the table, I was reminded of this video. Try to watch it without laughing out loud. “Do it again, Daddy.”

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