Let Me Repeat Myself? – Part One

Why do they sing the same thing over and over again? Isn’t once enough?

“Whether we’re praising or we’re praying, there are certainly numerous biblical examples of repeating the same words to God. Worship leaders use repetition as a tool to let important proclamations and/or petitions not just fly by without the intentionality they might warrant.”

 

One universal criticism of contemporary worship songs and the flannel-shirted people who lead them is that there’s too much repetition. Close your eyes and you can hear the question being lobbed somewhere around the globe at this very minute: why do they sing the same thing over and over again? Isn’t once enough? 

It’s a good question, and very often it’s a valid criticism. There is such a thing as too much repetition, and there are times when singing something once is enough.

But the answer to the question “why do they sing the same thing over and over again?” might surprise some of the people who ask it.

I want to first lay out a biblical case for repetition. But then, recognizing that it’s tough to know how to do this well and easy to repeat way too much, I’ll share some thoughts on how worship leaders can do it effectively.

1. It’s encouraged by scripture
Psalm 136 has 26 verses. Every single verse, after proclaiming something God has done, repeats the line “for his steadfast love endures forever”. Looks like repetition to me.

Psalm 47:6 says: “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” If that wasn’t enough “sing praises”, verse 7 adds: “For God is King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!” How monotonous!

When Jesus prayed to his Father in Gethsemane, we’re told that after he found his disciples sleeping again in Matthew 26:44, he “went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again” (emphasis mine).

Whether we’re praising or we’re praying, there are certainly numerous biblical examples of repeating the same words to God. Worship leaders use repetition as a tool to let important proclamations and/or petitions not just fly by without the intentionality they might warrant.

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