“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, ‘says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'” – Rev 1:8 (NIV)
One of the most beautiful ways to contemplate, the beauty, majesty, and holiness of God is to read the book of Revelation. The visions given to the Apostle John unfold an account of the unveiling of the reign of Christ in relationship to His church. The book depicts Jesus Christ as a conqueror over any and every kind of opposition and the final realized establishment of the Kingdom of God. While much of the narrative recounts the destructive work of evil on the earth and the corresponding judgments upon the wicked, attention centers upon the one who sits upon the throne, high and lifted up, directing the course of history to its final consummation.
Amidst these glorious beatific visions, occur the songs of heaven. These hymnic portions are doxological, i.e., they reflect a spirit of wonder, awe, reverence, adoration, mystery and praise. This is particularly true of the songs heard around the throne. Beginning in Revelation 4 and continuing through Revelation 19, these stanzas of praise provide a heavenly background to human history but they also disclose the proper response of created beings to the glory of God. I fear that these songs stand in stark contrast to the shallow sentimentalism of much contemporary Christian music. For at the heart of these heavenly choruses is God – His character, His attributes, His acts, His benefits, His pleasure – and it is in beholding His glory that the creature finds its highest joy. Doxology is the realized fulfillment of all of life.
Permit me to read just a few of them (e.g., 4:8; 4:11; 5:9,10; 5:12; 5:13,14; 6:10; 7:10; 7:12; 11:15; 11:17,18; 12:10-12; 15:3,4; 19:1-4; 19:6,7). . . . Evidence indicates that these songs of heaven found expression in the worship of early Christians. The songs of heaven became the songs of earth. What a great example for the Canto Deo choir. Contemplate, reflect, and meditate on the songs of heaven. Make these songs, and the attitudes and affections attendant to them, the central themes of our singing, and we might just find some of the singing of heaven comes into our midst.
Dr. Keith Wells is the Chaplain for Canto Deo and also a Professor at Denver Seminary.