We are preparing to introduce Matt Redman’s song “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)” to our congregation this Sunday. This song is number one in the CCLI charts which means it is currently being sung in more churches than any other contemporary praise song (it also won two Grammies back in February)--so we are a little behind the times here a Ashland First United Methodist!
"10,000 Reasons" has a satisfyingly singable chorus echoing the familiar and often sung opening words of Psalm 103: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." The verses are less singable: the melody is not as strong as the chorus and contains irregular syncopation to accommodate the lyrics. This will not be a problem for Redman fans as they will have it memorized from the recording but it will be tricky for the uninitiated.
Redman and his Swedish co-writer Jonas Myrin, as Redman explained, have written a song “about the many, many reasons there are to worship God.” The second verse, drawing inspiration from Psalm 30, claims there are “ten thousand reasons” to sing God’s praises. The number ten thousand is familiar to practically anyone who has ever drawn breath to sing in church. It is from the "ten thousand years" in the last verse of “Amazing Grace” (a verse not in John Newton’s original hymn) and Redman explicitly quotes it in his final verse. He acknowledges giving “a nod to the old hymn” in an interview about the hit song.
So my first impression was that here is a singable song with some familiar words: this is a good formula for congregational singing.
There is, however, something much more theologically profound going on in this hymn than Redman alludes to in his interviews or in his downloadable devotional guide to the song.
Consider the opening lines of the first verse:
The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
The singer is not claiming it is time to sing my song of praise to God again: the singer is addressing God and declaring his or her intention to sing "Your song." What is God’s song that we are supposed to be singing?