Have we considered the fact that we spend nearly one-third of our time assembled together singing praise to God? In Psalms 146:1-2 the Psalmist says, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, on my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” The psalmist emphasizes that he loves singing to the Lord.
But there indications in some congregations of the Lord’s church that suggest that some have lost the joy of singing. Some Christians sing with absolutely no emotion. Some do not sing at all. Some will not attend a worship service that is devoted primarily to singing. Years ago, we would have “area singings” (and, by the way, we still have some in our own area), that would be well attended by many different congregations; yet now, because Christians are so busy with so many other things, we don’t attend these as we used to. There is something to be said about going to worship the Lord with joy and with his people and raising our voices in songs of praise to God.
Why should we sing?
We should sing to praise the Lord. In Acts 16:25, in an inner prison in Philippi, Paul and Silas, after having been beaten for preaching Christ, “were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” The Greek word for hymn is humnos, which means “ a song in praise of.” So, there were in jail, beaten, and singing praise to God. Beloved, praising God should be a natural thing we do because we love God and love what he does for us. David, in Psalms 28:6-7 wrote, “Blessed be the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise him.” In Hebrews 13:15 the writer says , “Therefore by Him let us CONTINUALLY offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.” We are spiritual priests offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (1 Peter 2:5).
We sing to teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18-19). Many of the songs we sing are directed to one another, to teach and remind one another. We must understand that that when we engaged in “congregational singing” we are also engaged in “congregational teaching.”
Hence, when we sing together, we need to give GOD our very best. We must engage our minds when we sing. Sometimes we sing songs without thinking of their meaning, or what they are teaching. Some songs actually teach error in that they contradict what the Bible says. Some like the beat or the melody of the music, without considering the words. Hence, we need to give careful attention to the words of the song.
We need to sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16). Paul will tell us to “make melody in our hearts“ to the Lord in Ephesians 5:18-19. This assumes that our emotions should be involved when we sing as well. If we go through the motions in our worship, without engaging our whole heart and being, we are offering vain worship to the Lord. Israel of old did this, and God said he despised their sacrifices and their worship (Isaiah 1). Do you think he will let us get away with less, when are so abundantly blessed by living under a better covenant?
Some questions to consider as we sing to the Lord.
1. Is your singing limited only to the worship assemblies? Paul and Silas were not in a worship assembly when they sang praises to the Lord in Acts 16:25. Singing should be much like prayer; spontaneous, joyful, as well as thoughtful.
2. Is there a lack of emotion in your singing? Remember, it must involve the heart. Nothing we do when we worship should come half-heartedly. Psalms 103:1 says “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless his holy name.”
3. Do you understand what you are singing? Singing must involve the mind. There are some things that hinder us in understanding a song, and we need to take some time to make sure that we are singing with the understanding. Some thoughts about this include: A. Sometimes we spend more time on the notes rather than the words. B. Sometimes we need to explain what the words mean. For example, some older Christians MAY understand what an Ebenezer is; many of our youth do not. (And by the way, look up 1 Samuel 7:12 to understand what an Ebenezer is). C. Sometimes we sing a song so fast that we don’t absorb the meaning of the words; like wise, sometimes we sing a song so sloooww that we never seem to get through it, and the meaning is lost. Song leaders can and must help us in this; but remember, we are responsible for understanding what we sing and we are responsible for singing.
4. Do we stress musical harmony to the detriment of New Testament singing? Do those who have trained voices discourage others who do not have a trained voice from singing? Do we use that as an excuse? Do we criticize others who sing off key?Should our emphasis be on praising God with the heart and mind, and not how it sounds to the human ear?
5. Are we “teaching and admonishing one another” when we whisper or mouth the words?
“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” Psalms 104:33
Thoughts from a sermon by Mark Copeland, The Joy of Singing.