I often find it a little bit odd that we get together and sing at the beginning of our worship services. Besides church, there aren’t a lot of other situations where people gather to sing, especially to sing to God. I mean, if an unbeliever comes to church, do they feel awkward that we are having a sing-a-long to express ourselves to someone we can’t see? Even though we know that our God is real and present among us, do we sometimes feel this awkwardness? We all know that singing in worship is a very Biblical idea. There is even an entire book of the Bible full of songs that were sung for worship. But, I still wonder: why do we sing?
I remember leading worship for a youth group once. I could tell that the students weren’t really joining in, so I stopped and asked them to think about why we sing. One girl spoke up and said, “because, it’s a cooler way to pray”. I think she might be on to something.
What is singing anyway? Well, singing is just putting words in rhythm, and adding pitch. We put words in rhythm by elongating the vowels. Elongated vowels are often used in everyday language when we want to emphasize a point. A mother might call her son in an uneventful way, “Johnny it’s time for dinner”. But if Johnny is late and his mother is irritated she emphasizes it: “Joooohneeeee!” Elongated vowels were used. We use this tool whenever we are emphasizing a point.
When we add pitch it becomes music. The melody that pitches create help to express emotions. For example, it could be triumphant, eerie or sweet. We don’t really use pitch in our everyday language very much (our lives aren’t a musical). But we do realize it’s importance, and we use it to mark special occasions or to express feelings that are beyond words. This is where music can be somewhat mysterious. Often, we listen to certain music when we feel a certain way, because it accompanies our emotions. Sometimes music can even cause us to feel a certain emotion. Furthermore, music can be used to help us remember things because pitches tend to stick in our heads. On top of all this, music is just pleasant to listen to.
No doubt, there are many more reasons to use music in worship; but I think the girl in that youth group had a good point. Singing is a wonderful way to communicate with God. We serve such an awesome God and his praises are certainly worthy of elongating vowels for emphasis, and adding pitch for beauty and emotion. When we sing prayers our words are being emphasized and our emotions accompanied by music. When we sing truth about God the same thing happens, and the truths we sing stick in our heads. As we gather to communicate with God as a congregation, it is fitting that we use music and singing to help us express our emotion and emphasize truth. I’m glad that we have this tool called singing to express our worship to God. I’m looking forward to singing with all of you this coming Sunday!
“Music induces an attitude of worship. It elicits from deep within a person the sense of awe and mystery that accompanies a meeting with God.” – Robert Webber, Worship Old & New
Monday, January 31, 2011
WHY WE SING