Why Do We Sing?
Singing is an integral part of our worship service. It has almost become synonymous with the word “worship” even though worship is much more than this. There are very few arenas where large groups sing together for any reason. Perhaps at a concert or a sporting event you might get carried away with the crowd and the familiar notes of a favorite tune, but rarely do we see large groups break out into song, despite what many musicals and TV shows may lead us to believe. Some say that congregational singing is on the decline because less and less people choose to participate. These would rather sit back and enjoy listening to the music during the service and sing when they feel like it. But singing is more than just an optional way to participate in the worship of our God. It is commanded in scripture, beneficial to the church, and pleasing to the ear of the Lord.
The Bible has hundreds of references to singing. The Psalms alone refer to this single word 74 times with many more references to praise, music, and various instruments (Ps. 9:11, 21:13, 30:4, 33:3, 47:6, 61:8, 68:4, etc.). These calls to sing praise to the Lord are more than suggestions. They are exhortations to give to the Lord the praise due His name because of His wondrous works. As we reflect on what God has done our hearts should want to burst with praise to God, and God has given each one of us a way to do that. He has given each of us a voice to be used in singing His praises.
Thankfully, singing is more than just obedience to the command of God. There are two passages in the New Testament that specifically call us to sing as a part of our corporate worship with the idea of benefitting one another through song.
Ephesians 5:18-19- “... be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart...”
Colossians 3:16- “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.”
As we sing we “address one another” or “teach and admonish one another in all wisdom”. Singing isn’t meant to be done solely in our car on our morning commute or while having fun with our families, nor is it strictly something between us and God. One of singing’s great benefits is that it helps us to teach and encourage one another towards godliness. Certain songs we sing are specifically directed to the Lord (i.e. How Great Thou Art, You Are God Alone, or Be Thou My Vision). , but others are very intentionally directed at one another to encourage us in our sanctification (i.e. Before the Throne of God Above, In Christ Alone, or Amazing Grace). Some songs are directed at both the singers and God as we switch from verse to chorus (i.e. Behold Our God or ).
When we sing during the service we hear the voices of those around us, we participate in worshipping our great God, and we offer the sacrifice of praise He has asked us to give (Heb. 13:15), all of which makes our singing pleasing to the ear of the Lord. If we desire to please God and worship Him in the way He wants to be worshipped, we must sing. It isn’t an option, nor are we required to make beautiful sounds with our voices. Psalm 98 and 100 both tell us to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord”. Notice he doesn’t say a perfect or beautifully melodic song. He tells us to make a joyful noise. I think all of us should find encouragement in that. Each of us has a noise maker, and we should use it joyfully, singing to our God, praising Him for all He has done.