Singing at Church
Our music is a response to who God is and what he has done for us through Christ. Singing also helps the Word “dwell in [us] richly” as we proclaim gospel truths together in song which stirs our hearts. We sing praises to God, yet we also sing to build up the church body and to witness to non-Christians with music that presents the gospel of Christ. We want the congregation to participate in musical worship, so we try to sing mostly familiar songs in comfortable keys, with the congregation’s voice being the most prominent sound.
As we prepare to come together in corporate worship on Sundays, some of us will be looking forward to different parts of the gathering. For some of us, we may especially anticipate the sermon. For others, it may be the fellowship we enjoy most. For some, it could even be the singing.
Whether or not singing in corporate worship is the highlight of the church service for you, all of us are called to sing out loud. Here are few reasons why:
Sing out loud because the Word tells us to
While the commandments to love God and neighbor are the most important in the Bible, Ligon Duncan has claimed something surprising: that the command to sing is the most frequently repeated command in all of Scripture.
The Bible is clear about this: In response to who God is and what he has done for us in Christ, it is fitting that we sing his praise!
“Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” – Psalm 30:4-5
Not only are we to sing, but we are told to sing “loud songs”:
“Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! … Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!” – Psalm 47:1, 6-7
Sing out loud to grow in your knowledge and love of the Word
“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
When we gather together as a church, it is not just sermons and readings from Scripture that help the Word to dwell in us richly. Singing does this as well. That’s why it is important that the songs that we sing have lyrics which express good theology rooted in the Bible, the Word of God, and focusing on the God and the gospel of Christ. Singing, then, is a form of discipleship, a way of growing in our knowledge and love of the Word. Singing truths allows them to sink deeper, moving head knowledge about God down to our hearts.
Sing out loud to edify and encourage your church family
When we sing together, we must always remember that we are not only singing to God, but to each other:
“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, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — Ephesians 5:18-20
Singing the Word is not only discipleship, but it is also a way of serving our brothers and sisters around us. We can build up the body when we sing to (“address”) one another in song. Jonathan Leeman has described how this can work: We’re singing the twenty-first century words of “In Christ Alone,” and I see the talented young mother who is tempted to regret what she’s given up to have children now exult in her new ambition: “In Christ alone my hope is found, he is my light, my strength, my song.” As I sit, look out, and behold, my own praises to God are strengthened by the stories and songs of others. My faith is invigorated and enlarged by his work in them.
That’s why we encourage you to sing loud. When we say “loud,” we don’t mean singing so that you stick out with so much volume that your voice distracts others away from contemplating God and toward your beautiful (or not!) voice. Singing with volume and intentionality, however, actually encourages others to sing — people need to hear your voice!
To review, singing is:
- Commanded by God
- Grows us as disciples
- Serves our church family
- In addition, singing together is also a way we demonstrate unity as the body of Christ. Our praises are a foretaste of the praises we will sing to our God in the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 19:6-9).
May we sing loud praises in unity to Christ, who is worthy of all praises!
The easiest way to “sing loud” is to know the songs. If you want to listen to songs we often sing (and some we plan to sing) at UCC, check out our Spotify or Youtube playlist – and come to church ready to sing!
“Why We Sing,” by Jonathan Leeman
“Five Qualities of a Congregational Song,” by Matt Boswell
“Rediscovering Jesus’ Hymnbook” by Joe Holland
A collection of articles on “The Church Singing” by 9Marks
True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God, by Bob Kauflin
Sing!: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church, Keith and Kristyn Getty
Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel, Mike Cosper