When I was growing up I could rely on hearing this song once a week. Every Saturday morning I would come downstairs and find a list of chores under my name on the kitchen table, my mother already hard at work scrubbing the floor or tidying up the closet. I know we had plenty of other cds. Music would play softly while we were having dinner or playing games in the living room, but for some reason my mom would always play Robin Mark’s Shout to the North album when it was time to clean. It was such a tradition that it’s impossible for me to hear the words of the Psalm without thinking of the lemon smell of disinfectant, and vice versa.
There’s a word for this sort of predictable, repetitive task: liturgy. I’m not sure if my mother intended to make the weekend chores an act of worship or not, but there is something ritualistic and even mundane about how we worship. The Psalter is read and the congregation responds. We sing the same choruses over and over. We sip communion wine and eat the bread. We decorate the stage once a year with a pine tree or a trumpet lily. Our worship is an exercise in routine. This is not a bad thing. Jesus gave us a prayer to memorize; he told us to remember his sacrifice with our daily bread. There is power in creative and spontaneous expressions of worship, but there is also power in liturgy. As G.K. Chesterton writes, “…grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony…God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.” It is in our monotonous, trivial tasks that we are able to bring a consistent and ritual praise to God.
Again, I think of my mother when I think of daily praise. In the twenty two years that I awoke in my parents’ house, she never failed to rise before me and begin her day with prayer and devotion. She might bake bread or brew coffee or fry eggs while she did it, but the reading of God’s word was as consistent as the sunrise. Perhaps she shared some of that eternal liturgy with me when she put on the cd and gave me a broom.