The Message, May 14, 2023: "Praise Times Twelve," Psalm 150

The Message, May 14, 2023: "Praise Times Twelve," Psalm 150

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
May 16, 2023

Please Note: There are not any messages posted for the previous weeks. On those Sundays we had guest preachers and we did not share their messages.

“Praise Times Twelve!”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Psalm 150

            Have you ever wondered what is inside the pulpit?

            It could be the pastor’s toy box. It is a spot where I could keep props that I might use during one of my messages. And it has been used precisely for that purpose.

            I will say that I have been here for almost four years … and there are a few items that have been in here since I began my ministry. I did not know why they were there … so naturally I just left them. (One never knows what sacred cows a congregation may have.) But let us see what I am talking about:

            Bottle of scented oil
            The baby Jesus!
            The remote control for the window shades
            Two fire extinguishers!

            And a box of tissues.

Actually, I put the box of tissues in the pulpit, and some of you know why. Yes, it is allergy season. Those of you who have been here for a while know that I do cry during worship from time to time. Sometimes I get choked up when I tell an emotional story or share a powerful illustration. But, more often than not, the cause of my tears is the music.

            My friends, my family, my church family all know that I cry when I listen to music. And not just in worship. I cry at concerts. I cry watching television at home. I cried last week during the Night of Talent. I … like many people … have an emotional reaction when listening to music.

            Out of curiosity, I decided to learn the reason for this. (Naturally, I also thought that it would make a nice introduction to this message.) I fired up the Internet and I Googled: “Why do I cry when I listen to music?”

            I got thousands of responses. However, nearly ALL of them were, “Why do I cry when I listen to SAD music?” I did not ask about sad music. I sifted through the responses and found a study conducted by the University of North Carolina and the University of Sydney. They found that people that cry when they listen to music could be divided into two general categories.

            First, they found that sixty-three percent of their subjects reported that they cried when they listen to sad music. They cry because the song was sad, or because they had some emotional connection to a particular song or group of songs.

            And then there is the second category. The researchers then found that thirty-six point seven percent of the people cry when they listen to music because of a sense of “awe” or appreciation.

            I could not find any other similar studies. And to be honest, I did not spend a whole lot of time searching. So, in order that I might confirm their results, I decided to conduct my own research study. Admittedly, it was a small sample size … ONE subject. Me. And it was not a longitudinal study conducted over a long period of time. It was conducted over the span of about two hours.

            I watched a variety of music videos to see what my response would be. I made note of those that evoked tears and those that made me cry. Here are my results:

            The determining factor was NOT necessarily the song. Yes, there were some sad songs or emotional songs that caused me to cry. But I also cried during a variety of other songs.

            It was the singer … the performer (musicians have also made me cry) … that evoked the emotional response. And it was more than simply their ability to perform skillfully. My emotional response was most often triggered by the performer’s connection to the piece of music. An exquisite performance certainly contributes to the tracks of my tears, but the feelings of awe and appreciation are more often a result of the performer’s ability to communicate their connection to the music.

            I returned to the study conducted by the university scientists and found in their conclusion that their definition of “awe” had to do with a sense of wonder and praise. Awe equals wonder and praise!

            As we read our scripture passage this morning, one thing was clear … we are to praise God! Psalm 150 is the final “Hallelujah!” in this ancient hymn book.

            It tells us WHO we are to praise. Praise God!
            It tells us WHY we are to praise. We thank God for all that God has done for humanity and all the earth across the centuries, since the dawn of time!
            It tells us HOW we are to praise. We praise God in song … in music!
            And it tells us WHO is to offer their praise to God … all the earth! Every living creature should thank and praise God!
            As we heard, the psalmist used the word ‘praise’ TWELVE  times. This is not a half-hearted call to praise. It is emphatic.

            Are there any fans of the movie, “This is Spinal Tap” here this morning? For those of you unfamiliar, it is a mockumentary about a fictitious heavy metal rock band. In the film, there is a scene in which the band members are talking about their amplifiers and speakers. They point out that other bands have amplifiers that go as high as ten, but theirs go to eleven! Eleven is one louder than ten.

            Twelve is one louder than eleven!

            In the ancient Hebrew, the word for ‘praise’ that was used meant more than simply clapping our hands or even singing a song or shouting with joy. The word referred to an action that involved not only the lips but also our lives … the manner in which we live. We praise God in song, and we praise God in the living of our lives.

            The praise that we offer is not a superficial, “Yay, God!” It is more than a polite word of thanks or a perfunctory word of appreciation. It is deep. It is intimate. It is part of the fabric of our lives.

            Our songs of praise recognize all that God has done for humanity across the centuries, as well as what God has done for us individually in our lives. Our songs of praise also anticipate what God will continue to do for us all the days of our lives.

            Let us praise God! Let us praise God to TWELVE!
            Let us praise God in song.
            And let us praise God in the lives that we live.
            Praise God! Amen!


Congregational Church