Written by Matthew Laney
"The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble are clothed with strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil." - Hannah's song from 1 Samuel 2:4-5
In September, twelve-year-old singer songwriter Grace Vanderwaal won the grand prize of America's Got Talent: a show in Vegas and a big record deal. Her final song "Clay" was about standing up to a bully. You can listen to it here.
Grace Vanderwaal captured the hearts of America (including mine) with her unique sound and original songs. Yet Vanderwaal's music has undertones of well-known artists like Katy Perry, Stevie Nicks and Twenty One Pilots.
In 1 Samuel we meet another singer songwriter named Grace (better known as Hannah in Hebrew). Her breakout hit, quoted above, could be titled "God Humbles Bullies." Hannah's song was based on an older number from Miriam who belted out her ballad after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and as their Egyptian overlords drowned. Years later, when Mary sings God's praises, she blends Miriam’s and Hannah’s songs to announce God's next plan to confront injustice though the coming Messiah.
I look forward to the day when songs about bullies sung by women and other marginalized groups are no longer necessary. Until then, we have a great musical and missional tradition to stand on, belting it out with the best of them.
Today the mic might be handed to you. Take courage and sing with Grace. If a twelve-year-old can do it on a national stage, if ancient young women can do it in a brutally oppressive world, so can we.
Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy praise… and back it up with a rockin, kick-ass, beat. Amen.