“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)
First of all, let me begin by apologizing to anyone who has ever stood within a 1-metre radius of my exceptionally eager yet woefully out-of-tune singing voice. I take seriously God’s command to “make a joyful noise” (Psalm 98:4), yet I fear that I major on the “noise” side of things.
All apologies aside, have you ever considered why we sing in church? There are not too many places or groups in the world where corporate singing is a regular exercise. So what is it with Christian’s and the weekly exercise regime for their vocal chords?
In Colossians 3:16, Paul gives us a number of reasons why we sing.
Firstly, we sing because that’s how the gospel is driven deep into our hearts. The “word of Christ” refers to the gospel (cf. Col. 1:5); and Paul says one of the ways that it will come to dwell among us richly is through singing. Hearing the gospel preached is powerful, and of course, brings about faith (Rom. 10:17). But if we want to dwell on and in the gospel; if we want to ruminate on its beauty so our hearts are captivated by it, we must sing it! Of course, singing the truth does not make the truth truer, but it does make it richer. Or as Rory Shiner says: “Singing can translate the words on the page into the songs of our hearts.” So, sing!
Secondly, Paul also tells us that singing is a ministry to one another! Look at verse 16 carefully: we are told that when we sing we are teaching and admonishing one another. That means that when I exercise my eager yet out-of-tune vocal chords in corporate singing on a Sunday, though it might not feel (or sound) like it, it is for you! Singing is a one another ministry – I sing for you and you sing for me. There is nothing quite like a group of people declaring robustly and loudly the glorious truths of the gospel.
Singing on your own is, of course, a wonderful tool for private worship. In fact, my car and the shower are two of my favourite private studios! But please don’t miss the fact that when we sing on a Sunday it is not for ourselves, it is for everyone else! This means the Worship Team (who so wonderfully lead us in singing) are not singing to us but with us! Because we are all singing for each other! Together we are the choir, not the audience. This also means that it doesn’t really matter if you don’t like singing, or you don’t consider yourself a good singer, because your singing is not really about you! It’s about others! So, sing!
Thirdly, and finally, we sing because our hearts overflow with thankfulness to God. Paul says our singing is an external reflection of our internal thankfulness. We sing to adequately and repeatedly express our profound thankfulness to God for all He is and for all He has done. We do not sing just for each other and not God, or just for God and not for each other – we sing for both. We sing for the edification of those around us, and for the glorification of the One above us. So, sing!
This all leads me to conclude that we should have one rule when it comes to singing at BPCC (at least from those without a microphone…): you don’t have to sing well, but you must sing loudly. “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” (Psalm 95:1). So, sing!
Grace and peace,
Inspiration was gleaned from Rory Shiner’s article “Why We Sing at Providence Church”