Why Do We Sing?
August 30 2015 5th Sunday Worship focus on hymns
One of the main things that Christians are known for is singing songs and making music. This is in contrast to Islam, for example, where music is forbidden. You may hear chants or calls to Allah in a mosque, but nothing like the music with instruments and songs of praise you find in Christian churches. There are all sorts of reasons why Christians sing. Singing serves many purposes in our worship. Three particular purposes for hymns come to mind. These are: (1) hymns help us give praise to God, (2) hymns help us pray, and (3) hymns help us proclaim.
How does singing hymns help us give praise to God?
There is no escaping the fact that singing is a vital form of giving praise to God. It’s certainly not the only way we can praise God, but it is vital to our praise and worship of God. Many Scripture passages, particularly many of the Psalms, speak to this. Not only do they link praise directly with singing, but they frequently speak to praise and singing together as twin partners in the worship of God. In Psalm 96 the Psalmist writes:
sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
So we sing hymns to give praise to God.
Another reason we sing hymns is that hymns help us pray. Just as singing is not the only thing we do to praise God, giving praise to God is not all we do when we sing. Singing also helps us pray to God. Singing is, or at least it can be, a form of prayer. Another way to put it is to say that prayers can be sung. The book of Psalms is an example of this. A majority of the Psalms are, in fact, prayers, and the ancient Israelites sung the Psalms. What this means, then, is that exhortations to sing Psalms, such as those we have in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, are exhortations to sing prayers. This, of course, does not mean that the Psalms must only be sung, it’s important to read them also, but it is instructive remember that they were sung prayers for the people of Israel. Not only can we look at the Psalms to find prayers that are hymns, or hymns that are prayers, but in our hymnbooks we will find many hymns that are prayers to god.
So we can sing hymns to give praise to God and we can sing hymns to pray to God.
We can also sing to proclaim what we know about God and to tell others about God.
Hymns can be a way to proclaim God’s word. We can teach ideas and concepts about God as we sing. In fact, when we sing hymns together we are instructing each other.
Paul emphasized the teaching function of congregational singing.
So we sing hymns to praise God, pray to God, and proclaim God. These are some of the reasons we sing hymns, or the “why” question of singing hymns. But what about the “how” question? How should we sing hymns?
Here are practical pointers on how to sing hymns to God.
First of all, sing joyfully. Put into practice the Psalmists admonition in Psalm 100 to make a joyful noise to the Lord. Even if you don’t have a great singing voice, sing to God with joy. Joyously give God the praise He deserves.
Second, sing clearly. Don’t muddle through a hymn mumbling the words as if you are almost ashamed to be singing them. Sing clearly. Make sure your praise, prayer and proclamation of God is understood.
Third, sing fervently. In Colossians 3:16 Paul says to sing “richly”. Again, sing hymns like you mean what you are singing, like you realize that God deserves the praise, prayer and proclamation the words you are singing give to God.
God blessed us with a great gift when He blessed us with the ability to write, play, and sing hymns. We need to make sure that we use that gift as God intends by singing his praise, singing our prayers, and proclaiming His glory joyfully, clearly and fervently as we lift up our hymns to God. Amen.