Why So much Singing in a Worship Service?
Unless you are one of the gifted few among us, chances are you don’t do much out-loud singing during your week (not counting the car and shower). For many of us, the very idea of publicly singing with around others can be intimidating. For others, particularly men, singing in church is something we “tolerate” as a necessary inconvenience in order to get to the sermon. Biblically, however, the singing of God’s praise constitutes a vital part of worshipping God, and our service reflects that emphasis by including congregational singing throughout. Why is it important to be a singing congregation?
First, singing helps us to praise God with appropriate intensity. There is something about music and singing which allows us to express emotion in a heightened way that merely speaking does not. This is why we often have music and singing at the significant events in our lives, and particularly times of celebration and joy. This is why we see throughout the Scriptures that God’s people often responded to God’s great acts of salvation not just with words, but with song. After God delivered Israel from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, Moses immediately leads them in a song of Praise (Exodus 15). After God fought to deliver them from Jabin and the Canaanites in the period of the Judges, Deborah leads them in a song of praise (Judges 5). The book of Psalms is filled with exhortations not just to praise God, but to sing praises to God. For those who have seen and experienced the gracious salvation of God, who have “tasted and seen the Lord is good,” mere words cannot adequately express our joy and gratitude - we have to sing.
Second, singing is a way that we build each other up in the faith week after week. In Col 3:16 the apostle Paul commands the church to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” According to this passage, singing songs should be understood as part of the ministry of the Word. Singing is an opportunity for the “Word of Christ” to dwell in us, to teach one another truth about God, and encourage one another to walk in obedience. This implies, of course, that the songs that we sing actually have biblical content, and not merely reflect on our own personal feelings or experiences.
Finally, when we sing God’s praises together as his people we experience a foretaste of heaven itself. There is much about life in heaven that we do not know, but one thing is sure - we will be singing God’s praise. “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" (Rev 5:13).