Have you ever gone to church on Sunday and wondered, “Why do we spend so much time singing?”
Maybe you love to sing along to music in the car as you drive, and singing is the part of the Sunday gathering you really connect to. Or maybe you see singing in church as a waste of time, awkward, or annoying. Maybe the lady behind you who belts out “How Great Thou Art” is tone deaf. Maybe the band is bad compared to the show you saw on the weekend.
There are nearly fifty exhortations to sing in Scripture, and 400 references to singing. God clearly loves music and singing, and he exhorts and commands us to sing as well. If that’s not enough of a reason, here are a few more:
Because singing helps us remember
There’s a reason you wake up with a catchy song in your head, or you remember lyrics from a rhyme you were taught as a young child. Science has shown that words, patterns, and categories are more easily remembered when set to music. God knows that his people are prone to forget, prone to distraction. He commands us to sing his words and truths because singing helps those words sink in and stick with us through all the highs and lows of life.
Because singing engages and expresses our emotions
In Psalm 71:23 David writes, “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” His knowledge of the truth that his soul had been redeemed overflowed into song.
John Piper said, “The reason we sing is because there are depths and heights and intensities and kinds of emotion that will not be satisfactorily expressed by mere prosaic forms, or even poetic readings. There are realities that demand to break out of prose into poetry and some demand that poetry be stretched into song.”
The joy we feel in knowing that God saved us can’t be contained in our heads or our hearts; it overflows in our actions and bursts forth in our songs.
Because God sings
Bob Kauflin wrote, “The Father sings over his redeemed people (Zephaniah 3:17). Jesus sings with us in the midst of the congregation (Hebrews 2:12). One of the fruits of being filled with the Spirit is singing (Ephesians 5:18-19). We worship a triune God who sings, and he wants us to be like him.” I love that. Our God is a God who sings to us and with us.
One day we won’t struggle with out-of-tune voices and guitars. One day we won’t struggle against distraction. One day we’ll worship Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, in glory, and our voices will join with the voices of the saints and angels. It will be a truly beautiful song worthy of the One who, in his great love for us, taught us to sing it.