Why Do We Always Sing?By Micah Klutinoty
April 17, 2020
“Lift up your voice!”
“Come On! Let’s give it all we’ve got!”:
“Let’s sing together! Sing to the Lord!”
You probably could travel to countless congregations across the world, and hear comments like the few above encouraging people to engage in singing together. But have you given much thought to why we sing?
We sing at birthday parties, at concerts, at sporting events, or in patriotic settings. It can be light hearted and fun or sometimes simply wrote, even obligatory. And yet singing together with the people of God in the great gathering has remained a tradition, even a necessity since the earliest days of the Church.
It was Paul who wrote in 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.” (ESV)
Paul’s exhortation to the church in Colossae is the same for us today. Every opportunity to gather as the people of God, devoted and anchored in the truth of God’s Word, is a chance to stir up thankfulness in one another’s hearts by singing the praises of God, to the glory of God.
When we sing the truths of God’s promises and declare his renown, our songs become a battle cry when the war rages, a celebration in the greatest of victories, and even a confident hope in the hardest days. And while Paul gives us multiple vehicles of expression, when we sing, we find the thankfulness stoking power of our songs!
Singing Your Way to a Thankful Life
So, what is it about singing that becomes so life giving in our pursuit of living a life of thankfulness to God? Here are five reasons the grace of singing is unlike the other good gifts God has given his people.
The gift of melody takes mere words to places that words can’t always go. Music helps simple words penetrate the heart and move the human soul.
In a TIME Magazine article, Professor Kim Innes of West Virginia University says, “Music seems to “selectively activate” neurochemical systems and brain structures associated with positive mood, emotion regulation, attention and memory in ways that promote beneficial changes.”
If music alone can bring about a positive change in our attitudes and emotion, how much more powerful it is when used to ascribe worth to Jesus? Songs help people say what they wish they could say to God on their own, but can’t always find the words.
Singing helps us engage all that God has called us to when loving Him. Jesus’ greatest command is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind (Luke 10:27, ESV).” Singing is one of the greatest expressions that can stir body, soul, mind, and spirit in the kind of worship God desires.
When all of who we are is channeled into the passionate, adoration of all that he is, our lives are changed while he receives the glory that is rightfully his.
The songs of our faith are the best carriers of theology in the church. From old to new, what our churches are singing should be what we believe about God. When these songs get on our hearts and in our mouths, we carry a theology of God wherever we go.
So, we’re not just taking Paul’s advice to sing without also following his command to “Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly!” (Colossians 3:16, ESV) What we sing must be anchored in the word of God, because apart from the word there is no power. But with the word of God, the melodies of man become a powerful weapon for every worshiper.
There are over four hundred references to singing in the Bible, many of which are commands to God’s people. Psalm 47:6 says with exuberance, “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” (ESV)
The gathered singing of God’s people is really an act of obedience to God and his word. Every act of obedience is the grace of Christ in us. When we sing together, we are actively obedient and receive the blessings that come with following Christ.
While the art of singing moves the human heart, it also moves the heart of God. God delights in the praise of his people. In fact, he has enthroned himself upon it (Psalm 22:3). When our singing expresses the spirit and truth that he so desires from the worshipers that he seeks (John 4:23-24), it is for his glory and our joy that he would move in our midst and change us from the inside out.
But not only is God moved by our singing, he himself sings! Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God will sing loudly over his people’s homecoming! Why would he sing?! Because it best expresses everything that he feels towards the redemption of his beloved. What a glorious sound it will be! God gives good gifts, and singing together is one of them. Next time you find yourself in the congregation of believers, lift your head and belt it out! You might just find encouragement in your circumstances and thankfulness overflowing from your heart to God.