A new song: Family faith formation @ home


Note: If possible, have blank paper, paints, crayons, markers (or any art supplies) available for the “connecting through story” section.

Before you begin, invite those gathered to go outside (or if weather does not permit, around the house) and gather something that reminds them of new life (a flower, a leaf, water, a cross, the Bible or anything they think connects with resurrection) and place it in the center of the gathering after each repetition of “He is risen indeed!” Repeat as often as necessary.

One:    Christ is risen!
All:      He is risen indeed!
(Place a sign of new life on the table.)

One:    There are signs all around. Christ is risen!
All:      He is risen indeed!
(Place a sign of new life on the table.)

One:    The old has gone and the new is come. Christ is risen!
All:      He is risen indeed!
(Place a sign of new life on the table.)

One:    Because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we can begin anew. Christ is risen!
All:      He is risen indeed!
One:    We are here, Holy Spirit. Show us new ways to be faithful.

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share a where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something (a person, community, experience, event, etc.) for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world … [invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier]. We bring our prayers to you, prayers for … [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Psalm 98

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

For the second reading of the text, alternate reading the verses between two individuals or groups. Try to look at the other group as you read your verse to you hear the psalmist speaking directly to you.

Connecting through story

Assign each person a portion of the hymn “Earth and All Stars” (lyrics can be found here) to illuminate while you listen. The refrain “God has done marvelous things. I too sing praises with a new song!” is sung between each verse. Do not assign that portion, because we will do something different with it at the end of today’s session.

Listen to the hymn Earth and All Stars.” Using blank paper and art supplies, paint or draw your portion of the hymn as you listen to the choir sing.


Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • In the Scripture, what marvelous things has the Lord done?
  • In the hymn, what marvelous things has God done?
  • What are the similarities between Scripture and the hymn?
  • What are the differences between Scripture and the hymn?
  • Why are the praises of God being proclaimed or sung?
  • Who is doing (or is to do) the praising/singing?
  • How are the praises being made?
  • Why do you think the psalmist uses the phrase “a new song”?
  • What would have been an old song? Why would a new song be needed?
  • What marvelous things have you seen God do?
  • In what ways do you sing or praise God for those things?
  • The refrain of the hymn says, “I too sing praises with a new song.” What will your new song be as you praise God with your whole being?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • The psalmist is not suggesting that we praise God, but rather is communicating the call to praise in terms of a command.
  • No one escapes this imperative — earth, stars, all creation and, of course, humans.
  • Each is to praise with the whole of their being. In whatever form that may be, they are to bring their full selves to the practice of praise.
  • God provides for us in every situation — a reason to praise.
  • God’s faithfulness remains true no matter our own inability to do so — a reason to praise.
  • Within this psalm are themes that form Israel’s identity crisis brought on by the Babylonian exile, which was a consequence of their worshipping other gods and not taking care of their neighbor. Who they understood themselves to be in relation to the Mosaic covenant and the Promised Land shifted significantly with their expulsion from the land they believed God intended just for them. Singing a new song became, in many ways, their tangible refrain and served as a reminder that they must find new patterns of faithfulness to God and to see God’s grace even in the midst of their difficult situations.
  • In the previous weeks, the lectionary readings we focused on in this column were the passages from 1 John. The focus was on God’s love and the command that we love. Note in today’s text the use of God’s “steadfast love” in this psalm. God’s love is constant. It is a part of what it means to be in relationship with God and thus what it means to be in relationship with one another.

Ask each person to take an additional sheet of paper and illustrate the refrain “God has done marvelous things. I too sing praises with a new song!” in a way that reflects how they will personally sing a new song that witnesses to the marvelous things God has done.

When you are finished, find a place in your home to post the drawings in the order of the hymn verses inserting an illustration of the refrain where it would appear in the hymn.


Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.


REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.