In fomenting the “Congregational Singing Revolution” we must be motivated by knowing why we should sing in Church. I suggest seven good reasons, in the order in which they appear in the Bible:
1. Praise for what God has done
Exodus 15:1-21. The Song of Moses (choreographed by his sister Miriam) celebrated God’s Deliverance from Egyptian slavery. We should always ‘count our blessings, name them one by one, and we’ll be surprised at what the Lord has done!’. Thanksgiving and Praise Songs are found throughout the Bible. The New Testament mandates “Thanksgiving” in our singing (Eph 5:20; Col 3:16).
2. Remind us of the sermons we hear
Deuteronomy 31:19-22 and chapter 32. Moses had preached many sermons in the preceding chapters, but was worried lest the people forget them and turn away from following Yahweh. So God told him to write the gist of his sermons into a song, and teach it to the people. They may forget sermons, but they are less likely to forget songs. Even today we sing Deut 32:3,4: “Ascribe greatness to our God the Rock, His work is perfect, and all His ways are just … A God of faithfulness and without injustice, good and upright is He”.
1 Chronicles 16:29 (in David’s Psalm of thanks to the Lord (v7) the song has this famous call to:
“O worship the LORD in the splendour of holiness, bow down before Him, His glory proclaim.”. As we all know, “Worship” has become a catch-all word for ALL the songs we sing in church. Even when the song is geared to one of the other six reasons for singing, we still mis-call it ‘Worship’. But many of our songs ARE Worship Songs — in the true meaning of honouring God as we exalt Him in music. Worship the Lord with music and song.
4. Spiritual warfare
2 Chronicles 20:5-30. This inspiring story of how God told King Jehoshaphat to appoint the choir in their vestments to sing worship and praise to the Lord as they marched towards the frightening hordes of enemy troops. To the sound of Judah’s music and singing, the Lord caused the enemy regiments to slaughter each other. This story is seen as one of the ways in which a singing, praising Church can win spiritual victories over the schemes of the devil. Obviously this strategy does not work every time, or the many other wars in Bible times would have been won by choirs! But song is certainly a powerful weapon in routing the devil. It has other spin-offs as well. Song inspires courage, faith and hope ~ virtues which motivate “Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before”.
5. Expressing the fullness of the Spirit
Ephesians 5:18-20. We’ve noticed how drunk people are noisy people, and the kind of noise they make is evidence of the booze that is controlling them. Christians must be fully controlled by the Holy Spirit, and the kind of ‘noise’ they make must be evidence of the Holy Spirit that is controlling them. The ‘noise’ which Christians who are filled with the Spirit will make is described as “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all their hearts”. Are you filled with, controlled by, the Holy Spirit? If so you will join the Singing Revolution with all your heart!
6. Teaching the Word of Christ to one another
Colossians 3:16. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs”. Paul is emphasising the ‘teaching’ purpose of singing in church, just as Moses did in his song, in Deuteronomy 32:2. For your song-list each Sunday liaise with the preacher to find songs that teach the Word he/she will be preaching that day. Use every genre of music and song to ‘teach one another the Word’, and make sure the songs have good spiritual “wisdom” in the lyrics. “Lord of all wisdom, I give you my mind; rich truth that surpasses our knowledge to find …”
7. Admonishing and correcting one another
Colossians 3:16 adds this angle to the songs we sing: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, admonishing one another”. To ‘admonish’ means to challenge and correct one another. Choose some songs that will probe the conscience, correct error and the deeds of the old nature. “Search me, O God, and know my heart today; test me, O Lord, and know my thoughts I pray: see if there be some wicked way in me, cleanse me from every sin and set me free.”
You will notice that I neglected to refer to the Psalms in listing these 7 reasons for singing in church. This was done on purpose, for the Psalms give us so many examples of reasons for singing together. They deserve closer attention in the months ahead. Right now, digest these seven reasons for singing and use them to motivate the singing revolution in your congregation!