Monday’s Column: Neal at the Cross
I counted 96 people present for the singing at the Waddells’ home Friday night, sitting in our camping chairs in their beautiful backyard. Beyond the hospitality and tasty desserts, this was such a wonderful, needed time of fellowship and singing. There were babies up through senior saints, with a whole lot in between. It was exciting to see visitors, several who have been attending but have not yet placed membership, elders, deacons, and so many others. Though the air was surprisingly chilly, you could not help but feel the warmth and glow of brothers and sisters enjoying life together. It felt so first-century!
While it is extremely valuable for us to make as a goal improving our singing, from training our song leaders to becoming better, more attentive followers, it is even more important to understand what God is trying to do for us and through us in our singing. Notice just a few of the objectives God achieves through those who follow His will by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
- We communicate to one another in a special, spiritual way (Eph. 5:19).
- We teach and admonish one another with all wisdom (Col. 3:16).
- We express gratitude in our hearts to God (Col. 3:16; cf. Psa. 28:7).
- We proclaim God’s name to our brethren (Heb. 2:12).
- We praise God’s works and nature in a unique way (Rev. 15:3; cf. Exo. 15:1,21; Psa. 68:4).
- We offer up a sacrifice of praise by the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name (Heb. 13:15).
- We help others see and fear and trust in the Lord (Psa. 40:3).
Certainly, much more is implied concerning the power, effect, and blessings of saints singing together. But, it is helpful for us to consider the value of singing on its own. As a sacrifice of praise, singing is, of itself, worship. Worship is ” to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure” (BDAG 882). From “I Need Thee Every Hour” to “Holy, Holy, Holy” to “You Are My All In All” (and literally hundreds more), we prostrate ourselves before God as an act of reverence, fear, and supplication (Louw-Nida 217). Our Creator designed us to connect to words and their meanings in a unique way through singing. We memorize better when we set something to music. We connect music to events and people, forming deeply touching memories and recollections. We touch our own hearts and those of others in a crucial way through melody. It is not just “filler” between prayers and the Lord’s Supper. It is a profoundly meaningful act God purposed for us to help us grow and be strong. By doing it together, we are connecting our hearts and encouraging one another’s spiritual lives.
So, think about what you can do to make this act of worship so much more effective.
- Clear your mind and focus intently on the message of each word of each song.
- Focus on the people around you, deliberately trying to teach and admonish them.
- Sing out so that your teaching and admonishing can be heard (forgetting yourself and how you think you “sound” to others).
- Put forth effort, not just with your vocal cords but with your heart and mind.
- Do not be afraid to connect your singing with your feelings.
- Consciously work to communicate to God your praise and adoration each and every time you sing.
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly by your singing.
Do you remember when government mandates suggested that church goers not sing for fear that virus germs might be spread? Will you consider that God intends for something vital to be spread through our psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs? His Word! It should spread to our own hearts and to others. It should even reach the throne of God in heaven! Whether you are worshipping Him alone or with your physical family in song, assembled on the Lord’s Day, or gathered with saints in other places, let us sing!