About one-tenth of the entire Bible is song, the foremost examples being the Psalms, The Song of Solomon and Lamentations. While the Scriptures do refer to secular songs, songs of contempt and of seduction, the majority of its some three hundred references to the subject relate to the worship of Jehovah God. In the main, singing is associated with joy, as when the disciple James wrote: “Is there anyone in good spirits? Let him sing psalms [songs of praise to God].” (Jas. 5:13) Songs expressing sorrow might more properly be termed dirges.—Amos 8:10; see DIRGE.
The first song recorded in the Bible was that sung by Moses and the men of Israel, to which Miriam and the women responded, upon their deliverance at the Red Sea. (Ex. 15:1-21) Among others are Moses’ farewell song, Deborah and Barak’s victory song and David’s dirge lamenting the death of Saul and his dear friend Jonathan. (Deut. 31:30; 32:1-43; Judg. 5:1-31; 2 Sam. 1:17-27) Additional compositions of David number at least seventy-three of the Psalms. The Bible also refers to the “song of Jehovah,” mentioned in connection with Hezekiah’s restoration of pure worship, and the ‘song of Moses and the Lamb.’—2 Chron. 29:27; Rev. 15:3, 4.
References to a “new song” appear not only in the Psalms but also in the writings of Isaiah and the apostle John. (Ps. 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa. 42:10; Rev. 5:9; 14:3) An examination of the context surrounding most occurrences of the expression “new song” reveals that such is sung because of a new development in Jehovah’s exercise of his universal sovereignty. As joyfully proclaimed in the ninety-sixth Psalm, verse 10: “Jehovah himself has become king.” The new developments in Jehovah’s extension of his kingship, as well as what these signify for heaven and earth, appear to be the subject of this “new song.”—Ps. 96:11-13; 98:9; Isa. 42:10, 13.