One of the most profound general sessions of the 2020 Children’s Pastor’s Conference was led by Darren Whitehead. Darren Whitehead along with Chris Tomlin wrote Holy Roar: 7 Words That Will Change The Way You Worship. Though I’m still in the middle of this small, yet delightful book, I keep coming back to how I felt when I heard Pastor Whitehead share about the seven Hebrew words for PRAISE. We have one word PRAISE in the English language. The first people of Jesus have seven very distinct words.

Yadah, yaw-daw’ – to revere/worship with extended hands. It is natural to raise our hands in celebration, but not everyone raises their hands in worship. Extending our hands up in celebration is natural on the ball field, at an intense board game with the family, and can be in worship. Psalm 67:3

Halal, haw-lal’ – to boast, shine, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish. It’s where we get our word ‘Hallelujah’. Think about the crazy, demonstrative joy of friends and family dancing at a wedding. There is great joy and we dance in celebration. Psalm 149:3

Tehillah, teh-hil-law’ – A hymn, a song of praise, a new song, a spontaneous song. Ever felt the need to spontaneously praise the Lord out-loud, in public, in gratitude and open joy? Ever listened to a song on repeat because you just couldn’t get enough of it?

Zamar, zaw-mar’ – to make music. Think of a soundtrack that would guide you through a remarkable moment of life. Or when God is in the music you hear at a time of celebration. Johann Sebastian Back was often quoted as saying, “I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.” Psalm 144:9

Towdah, to-daw’ – an extension of the hand in thanksgiving for things not yet received; a sacrifice of praise. Ever been in a season where you sing yet your heart is broken? Ever choked through a song with tears streaming? Though my heart does not feel it, I will sing through the tears. Psalm 42:4

Barak, baw-rak’– a posture of praise to salute, to thank, to kneel, to bless God as an act of adoration. Jesus is THE King, but more importantly, Jesus is MY King.  Psalm 103:1-2, 20-22

Shabach, shw-bakh’ – to address in a loud tone. To shout. To declare glory and triumph. Pastor Whitehead shared a video clip of the spontaneous roar that took place when the Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series after waiting 108 years. Yeah…THAT spontaneous roar of praise. Psalm 63:1, 3-4

This little book has personal and group reflection questions at the end of each chapter AND after Chris Tomlin shares personal testimony about how he has written music and shared music which practices each one of these seven Hebrew words for praise.

After this teaching, I can’t listen to music the same as before. I can’t even worship the same as before. I’ve already purchased this book for others and I know of colleagues who have passed their own personal book to leaders admired. I have a freshness for worship today that reminds me of my first experiences of Christian music outside the local church and even before Christian radio. That CD made my car, my home, and my classroom a sacred space. My first? Phillips, Craig & Dean.

“Worship at its best is a social experience with people of all levels of life coming together to realize their oneness and unity under God.” Martin Luther King, Jr.