I don’t know if you’ve ever stopped to think about why we sing in church, or why we sing at all for that matter. There is a lot of historical evidence that people have always sung. Christians have sung since before they were even called ‘Christians’; and there are many songs noted throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments.
If you want to look some up, check out Moses and Miriam’s song in Exodus 15, or Mary’s song in Luke 1 that became known as the Magnificat, which is still sung today in churches all around the world.
Primarily, we sing for God. The songs we sing in church should glorify Him and lift up His name. This isn’t because God is insecure and needs us to prop up His fragile ego. God knows that He made us humans to worship; and the truth is that if we aren’t worshipping Him, we will worship something else. We might not think that this is true; but when we start to think about worship, meaning ascribing worth to something, we can see that whatever dominates our priorities gains our worship.
Of course, there are other ways to worship that aren’t singing: giving, serving, dancing and praying can all be forms of worship. Within singing there is also plenty of room for diversity; in Colossians 2 Paul encourages the singing of ‘Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’. We could discuss exactly what he meant by these terms, but the primary message is that there’s room for differing styles.
As we worship, we put our priorities back in their proper alignment. As we put God first, the rest of our life begins to fall into its proper place. This is the genius of worship; we do it for God – but it also has great benefits for us.
As we worship, it changes our minds. As we sing through songs containing scripture and God’s truth, it changes how we think. We remember bits of the Bible that we have sung and God can bring them to mind when we most need to know that truth. Sometimes as we sing, we repeat phrases over and over: this is a form of meditation, as we spend time thinking about the same truth and it sinks in better.
As we worship, it changes our hearts. As we sing, we can become aware of how God feels about us. We know that we are loved and welcomed by the King of kings and this truth should profoundly change us. As we get our needs for acceptance, security and significance met by God, we become more able to have healthy relationships with other human beings.
As we worship, it changes our lives. We need to live our lives in the light of the truths that we sing. So for example, if on Sunday we sing the truth from Romans that if God is for us, who can be against us; on Monday, we can go into a difficult meeting knowing that God is for us, fighting our battles and will help us.
Singing together is also a fantastic unifier. You only have to go to a football or rugby match to see this in action. As the team’s supporters sing together it unites them. We sing together for a much more glorious cause (sorry sports fans!), so our singing together should unite us as we remember that what we have in common is so much greater than that which might divide us.
So when you sing, lift up your voice to God, knowing that it will do you good. Don’t worry too much about what you sound like; I like to think our praises join in with the eternal song in heaven, and that must mean we sound pretty awesome.
Worship and Creative Prayer Leader at All Saints Marlow
For this and many more stories about what is going on within our church, download your latest copy of The Bridge – the magazine of All Saints Marlow.