What Are You Singing?

Sixteenth_note_runThere is nothing sweeter than the pure sounds of Christian voices blending together in worship. God’s wisdom is seen in the inclusion of singing in worship. God created the physics behind sound waves and the lovely harmonies they produce. He created the human ear and its intricacies that absorb those sound waves and transmit them to the brain where they are decoded into the joyous sounds we enjoy.  The lyrics of the song convey meaning while the harmonies touch the heart.

We are blessed by generations of composers and lyricists who have produced marvelous tunes to enable and enhance our worship. Today, a new generation of musicians are producing the songs that will become standards for worship in the future.

Why Do We Sing?

We sing in Christian worship because God has so authorized it. He desires the fruit of lips in our worship before him (Hebrews 13:15). While the Law of Moses authorized mechanical instruments in the Temple worship (never in the Synagogue), it is never mentioned in the worship of Christ’s church today. Thus, Christians desiring to give God only what he wants and authorizes do not presume to include lifeless instruments. The voice alone is the one living instrument we know that he desires. [bctt tweet=”The voice alone is the one living instrument we know that he desires.”]

God is praised through our singing but there is also a human benefit.

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. (Colossians 3:16)

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 your heart… (Ephesians 5:19)

Notice that we are to teach, admonish and address one another through our singing. At the same time we show our thankfulness to God. It is impossible to teach and admonish, and put differently, to be taught and be admonished, without a knowledge, understanding and contemplation of the words of the songs we sing. Mindless singing is not worship just as mindless repetition is prayer is vain (Matthew 6:7).

Engaging with Song

Is it possible that we are so accustomed to the worship songs that we sing them without considering the words? Perhaps we become so focused on the notes in the book or on the screen that we no longer give thought to the teaching and admonishment that comes through singing. Have you become so focused on getting your part right that you miss the words?

Some of our worship songs are so complex that we miss the meaning while aiming for the right pitch and right melody.

That’s concerning.

Perhaps we would all be better served to listen carefully the words we singing. Let our hearts reach for heaven as our mind engages along with our spirits to commune with one another and with God. Know and understand every word you sing. Some of the older songs use language and words that are unfamiliar. Stop and learn what an “ebon pinion” is or figure out what to do with an ebenezer. You worship will be more meaningful to you and you will be lifted up in a way you never thought possible.

Beautiful harmonies are important, but the words as much or more so. [bctt tweet=”Beautiful harmonies are important, but the words as much or more so.”]


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.