Authors on liturgical theology often observe that doxology — the language of praise or acclamation — is the primary form of human language. Praise, they conclude, is more fundamental than any other human act.
When it is supported, this statement is usually supported by some anthropological argument; even when these are convincing, I find them uninspiring. But the inspiring and compelling evidence for me comes from my children.
My daughter Juliana is now 15 months old. She is now learning about one word a day, and is totally thrilled by the ability to communicate and be understood. And the excitement is totally mutual. A few months ago it was dada:
“Yes, that is daddy!”
Now it’s “dog,” “too-toot,” “bruh-duh.” Notice that none of these are her basic physical needs. She is just starting to say “muh” (more), but much of her language acquisition is — dare I say it — doxological. She identifies the thing out of love, out of her childlike wonder, and she names it so that we, too, will rejoice in it with her.
In other words, she names something not so that she can have it, but so that she can share its wonder with others. And that, in a nutshell, is the language of worship.