Why Do We Sing?
Church has been a huge part of my life as far back as I can remember. When Jesus began to draw me to Himself, I began to understand why we go to church. Community made sense, as did preaching and corporate prayer. But there was always this lingering question that nagged me as I grew; Why DO we sing? Why couldn’t we just listen to the sermon, pray, and have edifying conversation? Is there something special about the music itself?
The Psalms are full of exhortations for God’s people to sing. Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.” Psalm 13:6 “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 30:4 “Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name.” There are countless other examples throughout scripture of worship through song. Clearly we are commanded to sing to the Lord. But it’s much more than a cosmic, “because I said so.” There is a deeper reason behind it all.
Looking back at my own conversion experience, I came to the realization that I had no hope, but with Jesus as my prophet, priest, and king, I gained access to the promise of God. I now have hope that Jesus holds the victory over all of creation’s bondage to decay and my own bondage to my sinful nature. And He has chosen to “deal bountifully with me.” Lamentations 3:21-22 says, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.” The more I began to realize the depths of my own depravity and that Jesus loves me beyond that, an emotional response would well up inside of me. I was thankful for the first time in my life.
God created us to be thinking AND feeling beings. He created us to respond to Him and the works of His hand with our minds AND our hearts. He created us to feel thankful and joyful because of what He has done. We have hope. And nothing can take that from us.
So, why singing? Music is artistic expression, like painting and poetry. It is made out of an innate need to respond to beauty and mystery. Universally throughout the world, this is its purpose. God has made it so. Singing is the type of music that everyone can make. Only some of us can play musical instruments, but ALL of us have a voice. And there’s no other musical expression that is as fully engaging as singing. Singing engages our minds and our bodies as well as our emotions and enables us to vocalize thoughts and feelings in a more profound way than simply by speaking them out loud. As believers, the beauty and mystery of the hope that is in us should stir our hearts to respond. Praise God that He gave us voices to do so. We respond with thanksgiving to God, because we have hope. And we sing because it is the best and most complete response that we can utter.