Aug29WedAugust 29, 2018
A few weeks ago, the FMC musicians met for their monthly worship practice. Before diving into the music, they read through an article on congregational singing written by Mark Dever and Matt Merker found at www.9.marks.org/journal/church-singing.
The article emphasized how scarce ‘corporate singing’ has become within the Western culture. They asked, where else, other than church and organized choirs, do people sing aloud together in public?
Perhaps a group may sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at home, a few Christmas carols among friends or ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ during the 7th inning stretch. But where else does corporate singing exist? Practically nowhere! Therefore, Dever and Merker concluded, “church leaders underestimate how they just push against these cultural trends…to teach them that the untrained but united voices of the congregation make a far better sound than The Tonight Show band; to teach them that signing loudly in the presence of other people is not awkward”
It requires a lot of intentionally for Christians to grow into counter-cultural habits which involve our combined voices.
But why should we?
While following our FMC Daily Scripture Reading, I was struck with how often the Psalmist encourages God’s people to sing loudly and frequently with others! Consider Psalm 81, which begins with, “Sing aloud to God, our strength. Shout for joy to the God of Jacob. Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the stringed lyre and the harp” (Ps 81:1-2)! Or from Psalm 84, “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise” (Ps 84:4).
And God didn’t change His mind about singing after Jesus came. In Ephesians 5, the church is given instructions to “address one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph 5:19). And in the Book of James, the direction is there again. “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise (James 5:13)!” Likewise, what did Paul and Silas do in the middle of the night while in the Philippian jail? They prayed and sang hymns loud enough for the other prisoners to hear (Acts 16:25). God seems to delight in His redeemed people as they praise Him loudly with their untrained voices!
Many Christians hear this Scriptural challenge, but then shy away from it because...well…it can be awkward. Even my own children display this. Often I will overhear our daughter or youngest son singing a melody to themselves. But as soon as they are aware that someone is listening, they will either get really quiet or stop singing all together. It’s tragic, really. I love to hear my children singing melodies with their unique, God-given voices. How much more does the God who made them long to hear praises directed towards Him!As Christians, we must find ways to encourage one another towards the joy of corporate singing. Here are a few ideas:
1) While at home, learn a simple song of praise and sing it before a meal with your family or friends.
2) While at a Bible study or meeting, begin or end your time together by singing a familiar hymn.
NOTE: Both 1 & 2 will be awkward initially. But the more you do it, the more that it will become a natural part of your life in community and the focus will be directed more clearly towards the Lord.
3) When you gather for corporate worship, look for the most familiar song to you and try to memorize the song through the week. When it’s sung again, you’ll be able to focus on praising God with all your heart…and vocal chords!
4) And if you want to learn how to sing in harmony, then consider joining our choir this fall.
God doesn’t instruct loud singing to be left to the “professionals” alone. He made your unique voice to join in with the praises of His people. So let us “sing aloud to God, our strength!”