Vision Moment: Why Do We Sing?
By: Joe Jackson
Why do we sing? There are many ways to answer this question. Perhaps you hear that question and immediately call to mind the fact that you “have no voice.” Or perhaps you are quickly reminded that you have no musical ability and therefore don’t seem to have a song to sing. We should remember first that the question is not, “Do you have a voice?” but rather, “Do you have a song?” This central question prompts us to contemplate our stories. For believers in Jesus Christ, we can answer the question affirmatively because we have received his grace in our lives. In a beautiful twist of our stories, Jesus has freely lavished his redemption and forgiveness upon us. And that means that you have been given a song, a redemption song. As people with the capacity to worship, our ultimate purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. One of the clearest ways we enter into this purpose is to proclaim in song that we are the redeemed of the Lord. So then, we all have a song.
But the question remains: “Why do we sing?” While there are many reasons to sing, let us to consider at five specific reasons that we should “make a joyful noise to the Lord” with singing!
#1: We sing because God invites and calls us to sing! Consider the following biblical reminders that exhort us to sing to the Lord. Psalm 47:6 declares, “Sing praise to God, sing Praise! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” In Psalm 98:4, the psalmist writes, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praise!” In the New Testament, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spirituals songs, singing and making melody to the LORD with your heart” (Ephesians 5:18).
Throughout Scripture, God’s people sang. The Israelites sang outside the temple as well after crossing the Red Sea as well as after returning from exile in Babylon. These stories exemplify God’s intended purpose for us as created beings to worship him through song.
#2: We sing because it reminds us of truth. Through song, we remind ourselves of who God is and the various attributes of his character. When we sing we are hiding God’s word in our hearts as we remember all that he has done. As we sing we are ultimately calling to mind the glorious implications of the gospel that we have received as sinners forgiven by a holy God. When we repeat phrases while singing, we receive many opportunities to think more deeply about the truths we proclaim, allowing the gospel to more fully saturate our thoughts and lives.
#3: We sing because it’s an expression of the Spirit’s work in our hearts. We cannot see the Holy Spirit. However, as believers, we are indwelt with the Spirit of the living God. This Spirit is life giving and affects not only our thoughts but also our hearts and our affections. By the work of the Spirit, singing gives us a greater awareness of God’s presence with us. From the Spirit, we receive all of the motivation we need to sing out to the Lord.
#4: We sing because it’s an encouragement. While we primarily sing praises to God, we are simultaneously singing to one another. We are teaching and reminding each other of the truths of faith. We are counseling, admonishing, and building each other up in the Lord. As image bearers, there is a true comfort in the mutual building up of brothers and sisters in the Church singing God’s grace and truth into each other’s lives.
#5: We sing because it gives us a more complete expression of our love for God. I not only express my love for my wife in words but also in my attitude and behaviors towards her. Similarly, God is worthy to be praised and words alone are not enough to convey our gratitude and love for Him. So we add to these words our emotion and affection. God demonstrated his love for us, with all emotion and affection, in Jesus. It follows that we should sing, play instruments, raise our arms, clap our hands and bow down before the Lord as expressions of our gratitude for Christ and his finished work on the cross.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why we sing; the five reasons above help to form the core of our motivation in singing together as the body of believers. I hope and pray that God will help us live in the manner in which we were created to live – making a joyful noise to the Lord with our whole lives. John Piper stated it well when he wrote, “The reason we sing is because there are depths and heights and intensities and kinds of emotions that will not be satisfactorily expressed by mere prose and poetry... There are realities that demand poetry be stretched into song. Singing is the Christian’s way of saying: God is so great that thinking and talking will not suffice... there must be singing!”
1. Doxology & Theology: How the gospel forms the worship leader. 2013
2. True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God. Bob Kauflin. 2015
3. True Worship. Vaughan Roberts. 2006