Singing is a biblical command.
The psalms are filled with the obligation (Ps. 66: “Shout for joy, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise”). But even the New Testament takes up this duty:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20
Singing is a means of remembering and celebrating who God is and what He has done.
I care about the words we sing because they teach of who God is. The message is crucial. Music without a message can only excite emotions.
I remember the tears I shed at the Church’s song in the early days of my newly recovered faith, and how even today I am moved not by the singing as such but by the substance of what is sung, when it is rendered (delivered) in a clear voice and in the most appropriate melodies, and then I recognize once more the value of this custom. Thus I vacillate (waver) between the danger of sensuality and the undeniable benefits. Without pretending to give a definitive opinion I am more inclined to approve of the custom of singing in church, to the end that through the pleasures of the ear a weaker mind may rise up to loving devotion. Nonetheless when in my own case it happens that the singing has a more powerful effect on me than the sense of what is sung, I confess my sin and my need of repentance, and then I would rather not hear any singer. Augustine, Confessions Book X
There are four important aspects of song:
Repetition (aids memory) “Hosanna.” We sang “Hosanna” 6x. Why? Repetition is good. We should remember that repetition without understanding ceases to be worship. Hosanna means “Hooray for salvation! It’s coming! It’s here!”
Restatement (aids understanding) “So High.” “You are indescribable, you are beyond expression. And I run out of words for you.” We want to state something again, just in a different way.
Rhythm (systematic use of musical sounds) The music is the form, which is there to aid the function.
Rhyme (aids memory) There is freedom, taste and see. Hear the call, come to me. Run into His arms of grace. Your burden carried He will take. – “Come to Me”
So, why do we sing? Two reasons: duty and delight. Lyrics fulfill the duty to remember the person and work of the Lord, and music delights the soul.
Sing and make melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Michael Bleeker is Worship Pastor at The Village Church.