I have been asked more times than I can remember why do Churches of Christ spend so much time on congregational singing? My answer includes, we sing because there are approximately 400 references to sing, singing, and singer in the Bible as well as 50 commands related to singing. Here are several biblical reasons WHY our congregation chooses to sing:
- We sing because Jesus and His disciples sang (Matthew 26:30).
- We sing because we are commanded to sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
- We sing because we are admonished to sing (James 5:13).
- We sing because we have examples of singing, for example in prison (Acts 16:25).
- We sing because we are instructed how to sing (1 Corinthians 14:15).
- We sing because it is a gift to be shared in an assembly (1 Corinthians 11:26).
- We sing to glorify God (Psalm 105:2; 33:3; 59:16).
In addition to congregational singing in all services, our congregation spends the second Sunday evening each month in singing. As I was reflecting on singing, which I participate in by carrying a tune “in a bucket” and “making a joyful noise to the Lord,” I asked myself, “Why do I sing?” More specifically why do I sing in and out of the assemblies, and yes, even in the shower, driving, walking, working, etc? I quickly jotted down these answers without research or studying how others may answer. Here’s my list of biblical and personal reasons WHY I sing:
- I sing because I am commanded to sing (Ephesians 5:19; Col. 3:16).
- I sing because sometimes I am sad, e.g. at funerals, etc.
- I sing to pass the time—it’s a positive way to do so.
- I sing because it is almost as normal as breathing.
- I sing because it encourages others, as well as myself.
- I sing because I teach myself and others—it’s educational.
- I sing because it helps me remember God and glorify Him.
- I sing because it helps take my mind off my problems—to rise above them for a moment.
- I sing because it helps we recognize the presence of others and fellowship.
- I sing because I feel better after singing. It lifts my heart and spirit.
- I sing because it helps me reveal God to others (Psa. 59:16).
- I sing because it helps me express my heartfelt joy (Psa. 63:7).
- I sing because it helps me be honest to God and open to others—the words are the truth.
- I sing because it is in harmony with nature, i.e. birds sing, the wind sings, etc.
- I sing because I can’t help it… it’s an amazing habit.
- I sing because it is a great communication avenue to self and others.
- I sing because it releases my emotions of joy, happiness, gladness, praise, etc.
- I sing because it helps me focus all aspects of life—from sad to glad.
- I sing because it helps be united and in unity with my brethren.
- I sing because it is a prelude to singing in heaven (Revelation 5:8-14).
- I sing because it is an example and encouragement to others.
In recent years I have noticed a continual reduction in singing opportunities. In most areas there used to be a gathering of congregations for 5th Sunday Singings. Singing schools were conducted on an annual or semi-annual schedule. Most congregations held special classes to train boys and men how to sing. Today, It is not unusual to hear brethren talking about how “bad” the singing is or why there aren’t many qualified or good song leaders today.
A study of church history from the last years of the first century and forward reveals that congregations gave a lot of time to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Far more time than was given to preaching. Today singing is locked into a 10 to the 15-minute slot; the Supper to 15 minutes, sermons to 20, and the rest of the sacred hour is given to announcements and praying. Most congregations have songbooks which contain 900-plus songs. One brother recently remarked, “We don’t need to spend all that money on songbooks; we only sing about 20 or 25 songs over-and-over, year in and year out. We can run off copies for those who haven’t memorized them.” (I’m not touching that brother’s remark).
Ella Fitzgerald, one of America’s late singing icons, said, “The only thing better than singing is more singing.”
The Psalmist said, “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation” (Psalm 95:1, 2). “I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6). “Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the firmament of His power” (Psalm 150:1).
WHY DO YOU SING?
HOW CAN WE DO WHAT WE ARE DOING—SINGING—BETTER?