“When I first began leading worship, I served at a tiny suburban church plant in West Fort Worth. The pastor of that church constantly reminded me that folks would never leave our Sunday gathering humming the sermon he preached. They’d leave humming the songs we had sung together. In fact, they were far more likely to have the words we sang rattling around in their minds all week than any words they heard from the pulpit. For whom do we sing? I believe we sing for ourselves and for one another, that we might come to believe more fully the truth of the words we sing and to love more deeply the God to and about Whom they were written.
That belief has transformed the way I personally worship God in song, the way I plan the musical portion of any worship gathering I’m involved with and the way I discern which songs should or shouldn’t be a part of our corporate worship life. If music is, in essence, sung theology, then things like lyrical content and melodic hook become significantly more important to consider.
However, that doesn’t completely quench my desire to know “why we sing.”
If that was all there was to it, then why not just leave the singing to the pros, and attend a musically excellent, theologically rich concert every weekend? Or, for that matter, why not just buy musically excellent, theologically rich music on iTunes and listen to it day in and day out? Why must we gather and actually sing together?
I’ve long been fascinated by the prayer Jesus prays in John chapter 17. He prays specifically for the oneness of those who will come to believe in Him. He prays that we, His people, may be united together; that we might be one just as He and the Father are one.
In the book of Acts, we find the early church living and worshipping together day in and day out. They share what they have. They break bread together. They seek God together.”
…”How many acts of worship are communal in nature? Congregational singing lends itself perfectly to the togetherness & vulnerability that the Gospel demands, deserves and seeks of those living in community. We, together, are the people of God. We, together, are the bride of Christ. Therefore, it’s right and good that we, together, with one voice, should express our affections for our great bridegroom, Jesus.
When we step outside the familiar walls of liturgical tradition and peek back in through the window at all the people standing and singing and raising their hands together, it may look a bit foreign or silly. But, brothers & sisters, as I said, it is absolutely vital to the life of the Church and to the lives of the individual believers therein.
When we gather together, let us lay aside any concern about the quality of our singing voices. Let us lay aside any reservations about whether or not we “feel worshipful” in a given moment. Let us sing. Let us sing as an act of discipline, training our hearts to believe more completely the Gospel of our salvation. Let us sing as an act of community, knowing that the people around us are our brothers and sisters and that they need the truth of the Gospel on our lips to ring in their ears.”
From “What’s the Point of Singing,” by Luke Brawner
I’m reminded of something Paul writes in Ephesians and Colossians:
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves,
and making music to the Lord in your hearts. …
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
I have had more than one person tell me that they don’t care about the quality of music or musicianship; they just want to feel God’s presence.
That sounds good, but it’s not biblical.
God designed us to worship, individually and together. He calls us to join in unity (Psalm 133) He tells us to sing to each other…
I think this is especially important in a day when people are so isolated. The last thing we need is to go to Sunday Morning Gathering for more of the same.
There is also a synergy that happens when the worship is made up of live voices. It has a vibrance to it that simply cannot be communicated in recorded or streamed music. Joining our voices says, “I’m with you. I know and love you, here and now.” We desperately need that.
By the way, Scripture also admonishes us to dance, raise our hands, shout and declare.
This is “Rule” from the Passion 2017 collection.
It’s by Hillsong United and Crowder.
It’s AWESOME; enjoy!
You know how a song can be out for a while; then it’s just the right season and the song really speaks to you?
That would be this one by Vertical Church Band. Enjoy:
These are lyrics to a song I have started working on:
Rejoice my soul;
Join this song of praise;
Twirl and dance with great delight;
Raise your hands;
Worship all your days;
Soar to the greatest height.
Let happy sound
Come from your inmost part;
Till all that’s found
Is singing in your heart;
Lift your voice
In joyful song and mirth;
Let it resound
In all the Earth!
God’s goodness is reflected everywhere;
In all that He has created.
In wonders great and subtle;
Sometimes boldly stated.
God’s goodness is expressed in many ways;
In beautiful music and word;
In panoramic splendors;
In things felt, seen and heard.
God’s goodness is always reality;
Even when we don’t seem to know
That He holds us in His arms,
Never letting us go.
God’s goodness is an expression of Him;
Not merely a thing He might do;
Not based on whim or notion,
But constant, real and true.
This song was released by Avalon on May 15, 2003. It’s passion, well expressed words and music are beautiful. Enjoy:
This is usually thought of as a wedding song, and as it is with so many of them, it can also be understood as Jesus calling to each of us; His feelings for His Bride, the Church:
I sing the song of life
With its discord and harmony.
In times of peace and strife,
I sing this melody.
part of my living song
Tells of my struggles, pain and tears;
Of how I’m weak and strong;
Of laughter, hope and fears.
Important are the words
That declare the things of God’s love;
And proclaim Him as Lord;
With angel hosts above
So my song of life grows
With more words and music each day,
To share what my heart knows
To be a living praise.
The premise of this song is this:
If you belong to Jesus, you carry His presence…His glory…wherever you go. You are a “glory carrier”
Godfrey puts it in a more fun way:
What draws you into God’s presence?
What helps you to experience His love most fully?
We are created in the image of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And each of us is a unique expression of Him.
When He created you, He had a specific person in mind. No one in all the world, throughout all of history is exactly the same as you.
Because we are individually formed, Each of us expresses himself or herself in his/her own special ways. We also receive differently.
What fits you?
Are you drawn to God outdoors, in nature?
Do you find yourself worshipping as you walk through the mountains or ponder incoming waves on the ocean?
Is working in the yard or garden holy time for you?
Do you experience His love in animals, flowers, trees and fresh air?
Are you more on the esthetic side?
Do you find yourself entering God’s presence through more classical music, art, stained glass windows and a beautiful surrounding? Do you soar to the heights of Glory as you listen to such compositions as Handel’s “Messiah: or “Sheep May Safely Graze,” by JS Bach? Do you see God’s love in a painting or sculpture? Are you one who can express praise in one of these forms?
Perhaps you are more on the expressive side.
You like contemporary worship. Dancing, clapping your hands, laughing and shouting suit you well. Form only ties you down. when you are aware of God’s love, you shake, cry, laugh some more or declare His wonders.
You might find that you are more contemplative.
Quiet time alone with your loving, holy Lord; hours lost in prayer and meditation. Soft music fits you much better, if you have noise around you at all. Time alone with God is a delight to you.
Are you a care giver or servant?
Do you find that you are most aware of God as you serve others? Do you find that His presence is real to you as you prepare a meal, check on the neighbor across the street or help with the Sunday potluck? Do you feel most in touch with God as you enjoy the satisfaction and exhileration of knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life today?
Maybe you are a Word person.
As you open your bible and delve into its priceless writings, you find yourself in the throne room, delighting in God’s presence and finding His love in verses such as, “By this we know love, that Christ laid down His life for us…” (1 John 3:16)
When you listen to sermons on Sunday morning, you are fed and blessed. You are encouraged when people share Scripture with you. digging into the meaning of words is your idea of a lovely evening.
Are you creative?
Do you find that its working with wood, painting, sculpting, writing poetry or composing music that draws you into that special place with God?
Don’t be surprised if you say, “Yes” to more than one of these. We are as complex as the One who made us. There is no “one size fits all” or single dimension.
You might find that you experience and express God in ways that have not been described here. What are they?
May you grow more deeply in love with Him; may you blossom and flourish as you come to God in ways that fit His precious creation – you.