Why We Sing
Gathered Together: Elements of Corporate Worship
By Cody Crigger
Our Gathered Together series is a behind-the-scenes look at how we plan our services to fulfill God’s purposes for our gathering. We’ve discussed why we meet on Sundays, why we begin with a call to worship, and why we saturate our service with prayer. Now, let’s devote some attention to singing.
In writing this article, I hope that if you love to sing, you will better understand why we sing, and if singing isn’t your thing, I pray that I can convince you otherwise.
There are no less than 109 separate instances of singing mentioned in the Scriptures. Singing is at the very center of the Christian faith and always has been. King David sang, danced, and wrote many songs. Amos sang a lament over Israel because of their rebellion, and Paul and Silas praised God in song while they sat in prison. The disciples sang a hymn with Jesus on the eve of his crucifixion. This past Sunday, we worked through the theology of singing. Today, I want to delve into four reasons why we sing together.
1.Because the Bible Tells Me So
Colossians 3:16-17 says, “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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Every command God places in Scripture is for our good. In the Old Testament, one aspect of God’s law to Israel was to protect them physically – to preserve them and produce the line of Jesus. Since the dawn of creation, God’s desire has been for humankind to flourish and be happy. Our natural tendency is to reject this idea, but it couldn’t be more true. His commands are always for our good and His glory.
2. Because It Helps Us Remember God’s Character
Singing helps us remember God’s character. Recently, God has been using songs to remind me of his goodness. There are obvious song examples: “God, You’re So Good” and “The Goodness of God,” but I began seeing His goodness in so many songs once I noticed it. It has been so good for my soul to be reminded of his goodness daily. When my heart doubts the goodness of God or I see a new way that humans don’t trust God’s design, God will bring those melodies and truths back into my heart. God is always good.
3.Because It Helps Us Persevere
The most important thing we can do on a Sunday morning is to gather with the church around God’s Word in preaching and song. Singing memorable melodies combined with well-crafted lyrics stirs our affections for Christ. The regular practice of singing truths with believers corrects our incorrect assumptions and binds our hearts to God’s heart. These truths convict us of sin, reassure our doubting hearts, and give the people the opportunity to speak into our lives. I can’t help but think of the hymn writer’s words,
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it.
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
Our hearts are prone to wander, but God uses singing together with one another to “seal it for [his] courts above.” In other words, singing helps us persevere to the end.
4.Because We Feel Better
Recent scientific research reveals that singing is actually physically good for us. When a person engages in singing, there is a rise in oxytocin, which causes a person to feel better. Glenn Packiam explains that when a person sings, “oxytocin levels rise, stress levels decrease, and the person experiences feelings of love, calmness, trust, and motivation to interact socially.” So, it shouldn’t surprise us that God has designed one of his primary commands in scripture to benefit us physically and foster a desire to fellowship with one another.
As we gather together each Sunday, I encourage you to remember that this corporate activity is designed by your creator for your good and his glory. It will push your affections toward him. And when your heart is not ready to sing, singing is exactly what you need.