Summary: Why do we sing when we worship? What difference does it make if we do that... or if we don't?
There’s an old chorus that was based on Psalm 96 and I’d like you to sing it with me: “Sing unto the Lord a new song. Sing unto the Lord all the earth; Sing unto the Lord a new song. Sing unto the Lord all the earth. For God is great and greatly to be praised. God is great and greatly to be praised.” (I sang the verse and chorus through once and then had them sing the verse, chorus verse again with me. To hear how it might be sung, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9plkX3hoe0)
Our family minister, Scott has been doing a series of lessons with the High Schoolers that he has entitled: “Why we do what we do, when we do what we do.” Aside from being a pretty clever title, it asks a very important question. WHY do we do what we do on Sunday Mornings?
Why do we have sermons and study the Bible? Why do we take communion every Sunday? Why do we stress fellowship? Why do we spend so much time in prayer? And of course: WHY DO WE SING on Sundays?
I’ve discovered (over the years) that different churches sing for different reasons.
My home church (for example) seemed to sing songs as if they were CONNECTORS. The songs connected each of the activities of worship. They’d sing a song… then they’d do something. They’d sing another song then they’d do something else. I don’t remember ever singing more than one song at a time. There’d be an opening song. Then there was a prayer. Then there’d be a song for Communion… then we’d take communion. There’d be a song for Offering, then we’d take up the offering. There’d be the sermon followed by the invitation song. They’d pray, then have the closing song. They never seemed to sing just for the joy of singing.
Then there are churches who use songs as a way to manipulate their audiences. A few years ago I was talking with a man who said he didn’t like our songs. He said our songs were more “praise” songs rather than “worship” songs. That puzzled me so I asked what he meant. He explained that (in the church he’d grown up in) they sang worship songs over and over and over again. Sometimes they’d sing the same song for ½ hour or more, In fact they apparently did this with ALL their songs, and the praise team would repeat the song over and over as long as the audience continued to respond. Sometimes they didn’t even have a sermon… they just sang. What were they doing? Essentially, they were manipulating the crowd. They were whipping them into a kind of euphoria. They were trying to make the audience think the Holy Spirit was THERE in their presence and they were manufacturing the Spirit’s presence.
Then there are other churches who have worship bands who don’t care if anyone sings along with them. The music is all about entertainment and performance… not participation.
Now I'm not sure God is overly furious with these different practices, but any church who approaches singing in those ways... isn't really very healthy. By contrast, what I find interesting about Bible passages like Psalm 96 is that they talk less about what a “group” of people ought to do when they sing as much as they talk about how you & I (as individuals) sing to God. It’s almost always a command: “Sing unto the LORD a new song. A sing unto the lord all the earth.”
The question for you and I this morning is this: Why should we sing? Well, I sing because I LIKE to sing! In fact I have a chorus of a song I’d like you to sing with me. “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free; for his eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me. (repeat chorus then TAG) His eye is on the Sparrow and I know He watches me.”
Why should we sing? We should sing because we have a reason to sing. We have a God who loves us so much that He watches over us. So, I sing because I’m happy, and I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
ILLUS: Several years back, there was a group of missionaries who spent 25 years translating the New Testament into the language of the Chol Indians. Today the Chol Church is a thriving group of worshippers – there’s more than 12,000 of them. But what’s interesting is that when the missionaries 1st came, the Chol Indians didn’t even know how to sing. It was only after they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ that they became known as “the singers”. They love to sing now, BECAUSE they have something to sing about. (George Sweeting “Psalms Of The Heart”)