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Why do we sing in church!?
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A question I have been asked a lot quite recently is “why do we sing in church?” and rather than just say "because its something we have always done" I thought I would be good to do some research and here is an attempt to give some answers! (collated from material by Vaughan Roberts, Paul Baloche and my own thoughts) 1) It’s Biblical: The bible is full of music and song from the beginning right to the very end. We are told in Job 38: that the morning stars sang and Angels shouted for joy as the earth’s foundations were laid. In Genesis 4 we are told that Jubal “was the father of all who play the harp and flute” (v.21). As we turn the pages, we find many who follow in Jubal’s musical footsteps. Moses sang a song of praise after the Exodus; Deborah sang after the victory over Sisera; King David played the harp, and wrote many of the Psalms; the Lord Jesus sang a hymn with his disciples at the last supper; Paul and Silas sang a hymn of praise to God in jail; and the book of Revelation tells us that there are angels who sing none stop! Here are a few direct biblical calls to sing: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Col 3.16) “Come let us sing for joy to the Lord” (Ps. 95:1) “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvellous things” (Ps. 98:1) “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19) “Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.” (1 Chron 16:23) The list goes on and on just type “sing” and “song” into Bible Gateway keyword search and see for your self! 2) It’s effective. Songs are a great way to remember things! Just think about annoying jingles and songs that do your head in but you know all the words and can’t help but sing along. Well God was on to this well before any music producer ….we read in Deuteronomy 31 that before the Israelites entered the promised land God gave Moses a song to write down and teach it to them (v19) so that they and their descendants would remember God’s commands when they turned away and worshipped foreign idols and gods. You can just imagine that song popping in their heads calling them to repent when they strayed! Think about today. I bet you can recite more songs than you could sermons. Singing is a great way to remind, encourage and challenge us through scripture. This again puts a great responsibility for us songwriters to use more direct scripture in our songs and not just “poetic licence” 3) It’s emotive. Music is a powerful tool that stirs emotions like no other. I like the way that Bob Kauflin explains this. He says that “singing to music is a great way to balance doctrine and devotion”. It’s far more emotive and powerful to sing songs’ like “Great in power” (praise him you heavens) than it is just to recite the words (which are from Psalm 148) 4) It’s eternal Singing is a pattern and model of what is to come. We see in John’s vision in Revelation 4 and 5 that the worship of heaven is Christ Centered and heaven is filled non stop with songs that glorify the lamb that was slain. Singing is going to be a part of our heritage for eternity.
Thanks for putting down your findings! I was asking myself the same question recently and couldn't think of any decent answers, so what you've put is very helpful :)
good post chris, i would only add also that its something we can all do together. its unifying, if thats a word?!! God bless, gav.
I agree with Gav - singing is one thing that doesn't require any particular training to do, it's common accross most/all cultures, can be done even if you don't know the language, and is the only thing that the whole church can actively participate in all at the same time. (Whether it's always unifying is another matter, but done properly it should be) Chris, saying we sing in church because God's people in the Bible sing is too easy an answer. Although there was undoubtedly musical worship as part of Jewish ritual and in the NT church, none of the examples of God's people singing in the Bible you give are as part of a formal "worship service". What reasons do you think there are there behind God instructing His people to sing corporately? Does God just "like" singing? If the examples we have of singing include spontaneous singing outwith church, should we be doing that too?!?
Good points Paul - should we do the whole 'spontaneous singing' thing in church? This spontaneity, however, could mean singing whatever you like to the music to worship God, or randomly throughout the service (which may be an annoyance to the pastor if people start singing through the sermon... unless it's their way of keeping themselves awake :P). But yeh, spontaneous praise is imho a good way of really speaking out to God with things that are on your heart and praising and adoring Him through this.
"A hymn is a prayer said twice" We sing about things we love.... ...and we've always done it lol Culture and tradition are sometimes good reasons too, if Jesus was happy to be welcomed into Jerusalem with shouts and songs of "Hosanna!" then I'm sure He still accepts expressions of praise in lots of formats today. The danger is that Worship Music (C) would replace other authentic ways for an entire congregation to celebrate their faith and relate to God. John 3.16 --> 1 Jn 3.16 This is love.
Christus. Cras, hodie, semperque.