Sing a New Song is only the second book written that deals with worship by and for Adventists. Considering the value of worship in the life of the church and the obvious need for more beautiful, meaningful services in most Adventist churches, it would seem that the subject is not being given the priority it deserves. This lack of concern for practical and effective worship could be a strong contributor to the Laodicean condition of the church.
What is the meaning of worship? How can it be conducted in order to be consequential to the congregation? What elements of worship are necessary in a Seventh-day Adventist service? What form must worship take for it to be pro vocative and stimulating, yet spiritual? Are there religious activities that are not appropriate in divine worship? Holmes's book is a noble attempt to answer these and other questions while presenting a definitive, affirmative, and realistic rationale for divine worship.
Holmes begins by placing Adventist worship in the perspective of the liturgical revival of the past 30 years. Much excess in excitement and experimentation (glossalia, faith healing, and exorcism) has characterized worship in some churches. Amid these extremes the Adventist Church has maintained its stability be cause of its adherence to Scripture and the influence of Ellen White's writings.
Important factors in worship include emphasizing people's needs over ritual, having variety rather than monotonous tedium, gathering together in mutual concern rather than individualistic separatism. Among Adventists there has been a growing interest in the arts. Churches are being erected to reflect theological/liturgical teachings in their design and building materials. Dedicated musicians, in cooperation with the ministry, are planning services that touch the emotions and the intellect.
In defining the liturgical mission of the church, the ultimate goal of worship is a confrontation with God as we know Him in Christ. Worship grows out of what we believe. It requires prayerful thought and careful planning, and leaves no allowance for indifference or whim. In the worship service, Adventist churches can proclaim God's truth through liturgy that defines its three distinctive doctrines: the Sabbath, the heavenly ministry of Christ, and the Second Coming. Doing this provides opportunity for innovation and creativity while glorifying God and not man.
What should be the order of worship services? There is a certain freedom that may be exercised within the restraints imposed by the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. Music, the anthem, choral and congregational responses, the hymn, all are means by which worship is heightened. A congregation often reveals its spiritual temperature by the enthusiasm expressed in its singing. The singing of hymns not only has a unifying effect but can teach doctrine, so the choice of hymns is crucial.
There are sections on worship and foot washing, child dedications, preaching, evangelism, and culture. Holmes puts a grand amen to the volume in the chapter "Worship and Human Response." When the worship service in the Lord's house is concluded, "I leave the sanctuary only to discover that I am still in the same old world. But I am not the same old man. I have had a transfusion of spiritual nourishment that provides power and life. I can face life anew, reformed, refreshed, refilled, revived, and return once again to my tasks and responsibilities while waiting for the return of my Lord. I am a new man in Christ and I sing a new song!" No minister should let the message of this book go unheeded!