Worship 101 - Why We Sing
What’s up with all the singing?
It’s a bit odd if you think about it. In fact, outside of Sunday mornings I can think of no other occasion that not-so-musical adults gather together to sing songs. As I look out at the congregation on Sunday mornings I can tell that many of you do not understand why we would encourage you to sing, and I must admit that even I have questioned what value and role singing has in worship. I think we all understand that it is important to gather together to study God’s Word, to pray together and fellowship. But what’s up with all the singing? Well…I’m so glad you asked! Please allow me to highlight 6 reasons we worship through singing and why we should do so with gusto.
God commands us to worship through singing. So…that’s a pretty good reason. The Bible contains over 400 references to singing and 50 direct commands to sing. Psalm 47:6 is especially clear: “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.” (This was evidently the first contemporary praise song…hence the repetitionJ) We are commanded twice in the New Testament to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
God Sings. Scripture reveals that God Himself sings. Zephaniah 3:17 says that God (the Father) sings over us. Mark 14:26 mentions that Jesus sang while on earth. Several verses in Ephesians 5 point out that one way the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in us is through singing. So then, we see in Scripture that all three members of the Trinity sing and since the Triune God has called us to be like Him, we should sing too.
Singing helps us remember truth. Most of us are not memorizing large portions of Scripture, but I would guess a good percentage of our congregation could sing all the verses of “How Great Thou Art” without missing a beat. Music is a powerful tool for memorization and helps us to retain valuable theology. Good worship leaders choose songs that are rich with attributes of God, direct scripture passages, and/or gospel imagery. When we raise our voices together on Sunday mornings, we are not just singing, we are declaring truth. And most likely, we will be humming that truth on the way home.
Singing stretches out words and phrases which gives our heart and mind time to process what we are saying. I enjoy reading scripture together, but sometimes in the middle of a responsive reading I want to stop and say, “Hey, did you catch that? Do you feel the weight of what we just said?” Singing gives us a chance to “Selah” or “stop and consider”. It is one thing, for example to say “God is great!” and it is another to sing “How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God, and all will see how great, how great is our God!”
Singing stirs our emotions and contrary to popular opinion, this is not a bad thing. We should have an emotional response when we encounter God’s presence. This is part of what it means to worship in “Spirit and truth”. There is a softening in our soul that often happens when we sing and this is part of how God wired us. The truth of God’s Word should stir us to worship and worship should soften us to receive God’s Word which in turn should lead us to worship and on and on and on. It is a beautiful cycle created by a generous God.
There is singing in God’s throne room. Revelation 5 gives us a sneak peak at the worship that takes place in heaven. As a worship leader, this picture is so valuable because what we are witnessing in these verses is a worship service that God Himself designed. If this is what worship looks like in God’s throne room, then we can safely assume this worship is highly pleasing to Him. Take a look:
Revelation 5:6-14 (ESV)
6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 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!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
We want our worship to resemble the worship of heaven which means we will sing…and fall down…(more on that at a later date). If you have any additional questions about why we worship through singing please let me know.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you 4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands 5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you