Why We Sing

Some thoughts from this Sunday’s bulletin:

We come to church in order to praise God and to learn about
who He is.  When Jesus commissioned His
church, He said that their work was to “make disciples”, which means

People learn a lot of different ways, and church done right provides a lot of
different ways to learn.  There’s
reading, there’s listening to sermons, there’s reciting creeds and Scriptures,
there’s discussion about the meaning of things. 
The Sacraments provide a lesson to our sight, taste and touch about the
nature of God’s grace to us.  Active,
passive, aural, even visual and tactile learning are all present. 
Any teacher of children will tell you that singing is one of
the best ways to teach.  When people
learn something in a song it often sticks with them in a way that nothing else
does.  People remember songs their whole
lives.  I have seen Alzheimer’s patients
that can’t recognize their own children, but remember hymns they learned when
they were children themselves.
Paul says the same thing in Colossians 3:16- “teaching
and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
Songs in worship therefore need to have content, and good
content.  The Psalms are a great example
of what worship music should be like. 
They are artistically beautiful, doctrinally rich and have some
repetition but not a great deal.  Music
should be simple enough that the congregation can all participate in
singing.  Novelty should take a back
seat; songs should be sung often enough that they can be learned.

This Sunday we sing “O For a Thousand Tongues”, a hymn of praise to
God.  The writer expresses his great joy
at knowing God, knowing that one tongue alone is not nearly enough to properly
express the magnitude of God’s worth.  So
he asks for God’s assistance to give him strength to praise God in a way worthy
of His great name.  He focuses on all the
things God has done and is doing for him, especially through the saving work of
Jesus Christ.
We also sing “God is our Refuge and our Strength”,
from Psalm 46.  That hymn concentrates on
God’s might and preserving power.  The
psalm uses the image of a river that brings life and prosperity to a city; the
life-bringing Spirit of God is often described in Scriptures as a river, a river
that brings life.  Jesus said that all
who come to Him would receive living waters, that all who drank of that water
would never again thirst.  God’s power is
such that all His enemies will be cast down and God’s people will dwell in
peace and prosperity.

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