Why Sing?

September 27, 2019

Singing is an important part of our worship to God. We want our singing to be pleasing to God, and we want it to be meaningful as worshippers. One important way of focusing on singing is simply to ask its purpose. Why sing?

Dr. Everett Ferguson provides a good list in his book, The Church of Christ:

  1. Singing is a way of preaching Christ. Several New Testament passages are thought to have been early Christian hymns (e.g., Philippians 2:6-11 and 1 Timothy 3:16). 
  2. Singing is a confession of faith. “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge (or confess) his name” (Hebrews 13:15, ESV).
  3. Singing expresses the indwelling Spirit and word of Christ. Ephesians 5:18-19 associates singing with being filled with the Holy Spirit. The parallel passage in Colossians 3:16 encourages us to have the word of Christ dwell in us richly. How many things do you remember because you have repeatedly sung them?
  4. Singing as praise is a spiritual sacrifice. See the quotation of Hebrews 13:15 above.
  5. Singing shares in the praise of heaven. In Revelation we are brought to the throne room of heaven and given a taste of its praise (Revelation 4:8, 10-11, 5:8-12, 14:2-3, and 15:2-3).
  6. Singing is for instructing and encouraging one another. When we sing, we teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16). We must sing with our minds (1 Corinthians 14:15). When we sing, we are speaking to one another (Ephesians 5:19).
  7. Singing expresses the unity of the church. “…that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6, ESV — emphasis added).
  8. Singing involves the whole person. Scripture emphasizes that singing is to be with both spirit and mind (1 Corinthians 14:15). We are to sing with our hearts (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16) as well as with our lips (Hebrews 13:15).
  9. Singing expresses deep religious emotion. “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise” (James 5:13, ESV).*

Good singing has meaningful words that draw us closer to God. Let’s sing praise to God with our whole being.

—Russ Holden

*Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Eerdmans, 1996), p. 271


More than a Melody

August 3, 2018

It may be significant that Eutychus didn’t fall asleep during the singing (Acts 20:9). The song service for most of us is the easiest part in which to stay awake and involved. Occasionally, one will hear of singings until midnight, but when the preaching is continued until midnight (Acts 20:7), many of us would be like Eutychus.

This observation is not made to suggest that we do away with preaching, but rather to note that most of us enjoy singing. Music is powerful and brings us much joy. It has great appeal, but in worship we need to remind ourselves that it should be more than a melody.

In Your Hearts to God. Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 reminds us that the singing is not just for enjoyment but is directed to God. It is possible for an atheist to come in and sing our songs, and quite possibly enjoy the aesthetic of the experience, but that would not be acceptable worship. Singing is worship directed to God.

With the Understanding. Paul has repeatedly made this point in 1 Corinthians 14 (see verse 15 for the one on singing), because apparently the Corinthians coming out of their pagan past thought they could worship acceptably with minds disengaged. Understanding is an essential ingredient for Christian worship. Do you understand what you sing (“beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,” “here I raise my Ebenezer”*)?

In Truth. Jesus’ words “worship in spirit and in truth” apply to songs as well. Is the song true and contain what is pleasing to God? Erik Routley in Hymns Today and Tomorrow states:

A congregation’s disposition toward right belief or away from it is subtly influenced by the habitual use of hymns. No single influence in public worship can surely condition a congregation to self-deception, to fugitive follies, to religious perversities, as thoughtlessly chosen hymns. The singing congregation is uncritical, but it matters very much what it sings, for it comes to believe its hymns. Wrong doctrine in preaching would be noticed; in hymns, it may come to be believed.

Thank God we have this powerful and joyful means of worship — our singing. May it always be to the Lord with understanding and in truth.

*Fain=gladly, Ebenezer = stone of help and is an allusion to 1 Samuel 7:12.