Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs
“I’m so glad to be at Inspire at long last,” said Sandra McCracken, who had originally been scheduled to appear at a CRCNA Inspire event in 2021 before it was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, the singer-songwriter from Nashville, Tenn., came to Tinley Park, Ill., in August 2022 to lead a workshop and close out Inspire 2022 with a time of worship and reflection after three days of challenging and inspiring workshops and plenary sessions.
“Seeing what you care about and what matters to you, it really is inspiring – and I’m so glad to be part of the conversation today,” she said.
At an hour-long workshop on Saturday, Aug. 6, McCracken reflected on the Psalms and explained how they “point us back to God, through the ups and downs of our emotions and ever-changing circumstances.”
She sang several songs from her 2015 Psalms album during the workshop, pointing out how the songs we sing can be steady reminders of grace, reassuring us that God’s love and comfort will meet us time and again, right where we are. McCracken also answered questions from workshop participants about songwriting, congregational singing, and leading worship.
Following the workshop, McCracken closed Inspire 2022 with a concert for all Inspire attendees. She shared some of her own songs, performed some cover tunes, and led everyone in singing some well-known hymns.
“I love the old hymns because they bring us into this big story of people who have gone before us and have walked where we walk,” she said. And as we sing these same songs today, she added, “We are saying, ‘I will keep believing this. I will keep holding on to the hope.’”
For the final song of the concert, McCracken led attendees in singing one of her most well-known songs, “We Will Feast in the House of Zion.”
Noting that some of the imagery in this song is actually from Isaiah, she joked that she put it on her album of Psalms anyway. But she also explained that there are many places in the Psalms and throughout Scripture where we are presented with an image of Zion as a picture of being in the presence of God, having been made blameless through Christ’s sacrifice.
In a sense, this is what happens when we pray, McCracken explained: “We are remembering what is true, and we are putting ourselves in this hopeful vision of what will be.”
While we are still living in a season of tears today, McCracken said, we can remember that God is weeping alongside us and has given us a promise about the future.
“He is a companion like no other,” she concluded. “When we sing this, there is great hope that the Lord is sending us out with a promise that is sure.”