QuestAt Adult Choir this last week, several of us were taken aback when we discussed how God COMMANDS us to sing. Thinking about that more it begs the question: so essentially if we don't sing, we are sinning? But as I was reading back through chapter 2 I read this great reminder:
"God's commands are not arbitrary--they are always for His people's good" (Sing, p.14)
God commands us to sing because it is good for us! It is good for our spiritual, mental and physical well-being. Not only does Scripture back this up, but there are more and more studies that show how good singing is for us, both as individuals and as communities. No wonder God commands us to sing! As Getty continues to write "Our spiritual health depends on it" (Sing, p.14). This also helps us understand why it so important to have a healthy diet of various worship songs. It's kind of like eating. If all we ate was the stuff we liked to eat (i.e. chocolate), we probably wouldn't get a well balanced diet of things that are important for our entire well-being. Singing is the same way: we need a healthy diet of hymns, songs, spirituals, gospel and more, to have a fuller understanding of who God is and what he has done for us. How do we know this is healthy? Because God commands us to do so...and His commands are always for His people's good: "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." Colossians 3:16
Questions to Ponder:
What response do you have personally to the "command to sing" praise to God?
How do you feel about singing not only songs you like but songs you need to sing?
"Since we sing to encourage and praise, not to impress and earn praise, we can smile about that and sing anyways" Sing, p.4
I had a friend in college who was 2 years younger than me. When he joined the choir his freshmen year we were really excited to have him: he was nice guy, told a lot of jokes, and had a personality that made you feel very comfortable. There was just one problem: he couldn't sing! He had a really hard time matching pitch. In addition to that, he was so passionate about music and bringing joy to others through that, he wanted to major in music! As you can imagine, that caused a lot of concern among the students. But he worked hard, harder than anybody else. He spent hours in the practice room, countless voice lessons, and listened very intently to try and perfect his craft. Well, fast forward four years later and guess what? He had a senior voice recital, an hour of him singing songs...and he sounded GREAT! We became friends while in school and even were roommates for a year.
I resonated with this chapter of the book, especially when the Gettys wrote about how God designed us to sing His praises. It truly doesn't matter 'how' we sound but that we indeed "sound"! And when we focus on WHY we sing, "to encourage and praise", then the 'how' we sound doesn't matter as much. Not to say we shouldn't work on the gift God has given us...that would be good stewardship ;-)
Question to Ponder: What are some ways you use singing to encourage and praise?
“We can mention only one point (which experience confirms), namely, that next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. No greater commendation than this can be found — at least not by us. After all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music.” Martin Luther
I am really excited to dive into this book with all of you, both in person and online. This topic of 'singing' is a passion of mine not only because I'm a 'music guy', but because I believe it is important to Christian worship. As I'm reading through this book again, one of the questions that continues to pop out at me is "how did the congregation sing?" (Sing! p.xx) I think this question is SO critical when it comes to worship for several reasons, many of which the Gettys talk about in their book and we will get a chance to ponder and discuss. But ultimately the reason I think this question is important is because singing can and should play a huge role in our spiritual development. Singing can give us an appropriate expression when we are joyful and excited:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
Come, all who hear; now to his temple draw near,
join me in glad adoration.
("Lobe den Herren", Joachim Neander)
and be a comfort when we are sad or hurting:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?
("My Life Flows in in Endless Song", Robert Lowry)
Singing can also take people from different walks of life and various cultures and backgrounds, and unite them in prayer and praise:
All people that on earth do dwell,
sing to the LORD with cheerful voice.
Serve him with joy, his praises tell,
come now before him and rejoice!
("All people that on earth", William Keeth)
The Gettys are right on when they write "congregational singing is one of the greatest and most beautiful tools we have been given to declare God's 'excellencies', strengthening His Church and sharing His glory with the world" (Sing!, p.xxi). When you think of it that way, it is obvious that an important question after any worship service is "how did our congregation sing?"
As we explore this topic of singing, we will have an opportunity to reflect on our own person experience, Trinity's worship services, as well as 'singing' in our society today. We will try this blog format for our 'online discussion'. You can see the week by week below for what we will be reading and discussing. I will try to post some thoughts by the Friday of every week, including some of the Wednesday discussion so that if you missed a rehearsal you can still feel part of the discussion. I would love it for people to comment, add their thoughts and respond to each other's as well. Feel free to share this with whomever. Singing is a discussion that should be ongoing and I'm excited for where this book will take us. Thank you for all you do in your ministry....you are a blessing to Trinity!