Monday, September 25, 2006


One of the distinctive things Christians seem to do a lot is singing. Yesterday, I went to two churches with two very different approaches to singing.

Why Sing?

Because the Bible tells us to:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

Because singing expresses joy in a way that words without singing don't seem able to:

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Psalm 95:1, NIV

All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing.
Isaiah 14:7, NIV

Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!
Zephaniah 3:14, NIV

Because it is a good and pleasant thing to do:

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
Psalm 135:3, NIV

Praise the LORD.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
Psalm 147:1, NIV

So basically, the point of singing is largely to express gratitude and joy at our relationship with Jesus.

Now when I think about the way that singing has often been done in churches I've been to, I find that it doesn't seem aimed to do that at all. The "hymn sandwich" model (hymn then something else then hymn, then something else, etc) seems designed to express a bit of joy, then get on with something else, then express a bit more joy, as if it was somehow wrong to express lots and lots of joy and actually get excited about Jesus as we express our joy in him.

And don't even get me started about hymn singing in school - I'm still not sure what the point of that is. Why should people who don't have a relationship with Jesus be excited about it?

Now I think there are things we've still got to be careful of. We've got to be careful that we don't sing stuff that isn't true or that we don't believe, coz we don't want to be hypocrites any more than we already are; we should be careful that everything is done in an ordered way rather than chaotically.

However, I think it's important that if we're singing to express joy, then we should express joy in our singing - in the way that we sing, in what we sing, in the way that we put songs together. And the way that people work, it seems that it's somehow easier to express more joy by singing for 10 mins at once than it is for singing for two chunks of 5 mins with a 5 minute break in between to sit down in silence and listen to some boring notices.

Just a thought...


Anonymous said...

yeah exactly I hate singing school hymns! - there is NO point so I never bother but teachers give you angry lookjs if you don't sing, as if you are doing something wrong - but I don't want to recite words that I don't believe.


John said...

Yeah - to be honest I felt uncomfortable singing in school (even though I welly stuff out at church and whatever) because a) so many of the people there doesn't have the relationship that the hymns presuppose and b) so many of the hymns are dire anyway.

I guess it'd be really different if you were at church or something and most people were singing properly. I still wouldn't expect you to sing though.

Daniel Hill said...

I agree with your post, Custard, though I remember a former rector of my church pointing out that we couldn't expect the older people to stand for ten minutes at a time, and that was why we had a hymn sandwich. Personally, I think it's fine to sing sitting down, but perhaps the older people would feel self-conscious then.

John said...

The culture at churches which have long "worship times" is generally that one can stand or sit as one wants to. I guess were people to make it very clear that that was the case at St M's then it could work.

I don't think we usually even got close to 10 mins at St Mary's. But I could be wrong on that.

Darty said...`s more about hearts! It`s possible to sing songs with great words, happily smile and jump ... and even tho not to have real joy about Jesus! We might even get impressed by someones passionate way of worship, but only God sees hearts...
aren`t we suppose to worship Him at anytime(not only sunday meetings) use our mouth during weekdays to praise Him...
Can`t joy be expressed being quite before HIM (is joy always expressed loudly)?
it`s easy to sing great songs, while our mind is divigating somewhere else...
There is no right or wrong way of worship... it`s about being thankful for having Him in our lives! And as we invited Christ Jesus in our hearts that one day, by surendering our lifes 100% to HIM, do we keep our promise- aren`t we supposed to live( at least try)for Him 24 x7, worship Him 24 x7, talk to Him 24 x7...bored of seeing "sunday christians".
It`s so easy to talk about God, discuss what is right or wrong to do in the church... but how many of us get`s up in the morning, saying- "Lord, How can I serve You? How can my life be a testimony to others? Help me to hate things, which You hate. Help me to love things, You love."