5 Reasons We Should Sing Passionately & Loudly in Church

Music, for millennia, has been an integral part of corporate worship

“Singing together is a picture here on earth of the hope of heaven where every tribe, tongue and nation will sing to God. Throughout history, God’s people have both discovered and affirmed their solidarity in times of celebration and in times of tragedy through singing.”

 

Each week, upwards of 100 million people in America make it a point to attend church, listen responsively to the sermons, and pray sincerely. But when it comes time to sing the hymns, the level of engagement drops hugely and seems to be continuing in its decline, quite dramatically.

There are many proposed reasons for the fall off, all of which hold validity: the wider culture’s waning interest in community singing, to the diminishing levels of music education in the west and particularly the role of choirs in schools, to the unstable and increasingly narcissistic elements in church music, to the spiritual state of our nation itself.

Music, for millennia, has been an integral part of corporate worship. The first hymns are as old as the early books of the Bible. The disciples and early church planters sang those songs and added their own. Notable thinkers throughout history and to the current era – from Luther to Bach to John Newton – have all so-believed in the importance of corporate worship that they, too, have contributed to the grand canon of hymns we know today.

As I travel to cities in America and beyond, I love to meet pastors and worship leaders and encourage them to lead their congregations in deeper and more passionate singing. Here are just five of the many reasons we should all sing passionately in church this Sunday:

1) We are commanded to sing!

We are called to sing; indeed, the Scriptures command us – more than 250 times – that we are to sing. It’s hardly one of those “controversial” issues that is hard to ascertain precisely what scripture is saying.

It’s not a choice; it’s not dependent on “feeling like it;” it’s not our prerogative. Throughout Biblical history, in every place and circumstance; in victory, in defeat; in celebrations and festivals; in death and mourning; singing was second nature for people of faith. Indeed, the largest book of the Bible is itself a songbook, exploring the range of human experience and interaction with God through singing.

In the New Testament, Paul teaches the early churches that they are to get together and sing. In Ephesians 5, he reiterates the call of old to engage with each other in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, making music from the heart.

2) Singing together completes our joy

Celebrating with each other is as natural as breathing. At your kid’s soccer game or when we watch football or March Madness, it’s not enough for our team to win, we want to revel in the moment and share it with other people. Marking a birthday, winning a prize, getting a raise are incomplete until we get to share them with whom we love. For those where faith is central, the joy of living, of praying, of studying Scripture cannot be complete until shared. Singing together reminds us, not just intellectually but experientially, that we are not slaves to the rugged individualism often promoted by society but that we’re actually responsible to one another.

CS Lewis believed singing completes our faith, explaining in his book Reflections on the Psalms, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is appointed consumption.”

3) Singing is an expression of brotherhood and unites generations

Singing together is a picture here on earth of the hope of heaven where every tribe, tongue and nation will sing to God. Throughout history, God’s people have both discovered and affirmed their solidarity in times of celebration and in times of tragedy through singing.

Consider again those first churches Paul was leading. They often had little in common; they were culturally different, citizens of national enemies, sometimes with different religious traditions or no tradition at all, and sometimes even lacking common language or dialect. His admonition in Ephesians is not a simplistic instruction; it was a hard thing. But, all the more is the importance of their (and our) singing together as it was an undeniable expression of their brotherhood and unity.

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