Those of us who have been Christians for a while sometimes forget that much of what we do might seem
strange to the world around us. I was reminded of this as I read an article which observed that the church is one of the only places we continue to encounter corporate singing. It’s true—when is the last time you sang with a group of people outside the church? Aside from “happy birthday” or perhaps an anthemic crowd sing-along at a concert, it doesn’t happen often. So why do we sing as a church?
God is worthy of our singing.
The first reason we sing is that God is worthy of our singing. Just because God is who he is, he is utterly worthy of our adoration, devotion, and celebration. This is what “all the company of heaven” proclaim as they gather around God’s throne and endlessly sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy! LORD God of hosts!” (Is. 6:3) The angels and saints in glory are enraptured by the beauty, majesty, and holiness of God. And we join our voices with theirs to adore the One who is infinitely worthy of our song.
God sings to us.
The second reason we sing is that God sings to us. In Zephaniah 3, the prophet announces God’s restorative pardon for his weary, exiled people and God’s joy in forgiving and redeeming his people is imagined as singing: “The LORD your God is in your midst…he will rejoice over you with gladness…he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zeph 3:17). To sing corporately as God’s people is to respond to God’s song over us—his delight in redeeming us through the work of Jesus Christ. As we respond in gratitude for God’s mighty acts, we follow dozens of others throughout Scripture—Miriam, Mary, and Zechariah, to name a few—who heard God’s song of redeeming love and responded with a song of their own.
A response of praise and thanksgiving.
To put it simply, our singing is about God—because he is utterly worthy of it, and because his own song
beckons our response. When we sing, we offer an embodied response of praise and thanksgiving to our Creator and Redeemer. So whatever the song, whatever the perceived quality of our singing voices, whatever the dictates of our mood on a given day, “Come, let us sing to the LORD!” (Ps 95:1)
Rev. Joe Carnes Ananias
Associate Director of Music