The gift of sung worship
Most of us have missed being able to sing together in church… and though we have been super blessed by all that the chairmen and music team have done to try and give us the opportunity to praise God in song throughout lock down… we still miss sung worship. Why is that? Many are gifted to serve musically, many say they love the experience of singing together and music is something God has given them to enjoy, but even for the less musical among us we feel the vacuum. Singing God’s praise collectively is something we do for good reason. Here are some of the things the bible says about sung worship and what God does through it… why not prayerfully reflect on how these hold true even in our days apart.
It’s why we were made
Isaiah 43:7 says we were made for God’s glory. Exodus 7:16 says the Israelites were to be freed from Pharaoh that they might assemble and worship God in the desert. Paul affirms this in Ephesians 1:11 and 12 as he says we 11 …we were also chosen12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
And finally in Revelation 4 we see that picture about our place around the throne of God, worshiping and praising God. Yes our whole lives are to worship and bring God glory but sung praise is an important part of that! This does not change in lockdown and can’t be prevented by rules and face masks. So sing when you can and where you can with whomever you can – even if it is online… its part of what you were made to do!
It’s a foretaste of heaven
E Clowney writes* “Reverent corporate worship is not optional for the church,.. rather it brings to expression the very being of the church. It manifests on earth the reality of the heavenly assembly”
When we join together in sung praise we get to taste heaven… with the angels, and with all nations from every age around the throne in praise. Even with our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us. We enter into that spiritually reality now even though we don’t experience it physically… we are joined, Hebrews says, by angels and saints of old in song, as we come before the throne of God in worship:
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.(Heb 12:22-24)
Even though we are not able to meet in person to sing… remember we don’t sing alone… lift your voice and worship the one who is worthy of our praise… who has made you part of an eternal choir and who delights to hear your voice too!
It is for affirming truth to one another
Eph 5:17-20 says 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we sing together, one of the things we do is affirm truth to one another… that’s why it is such a delight to have our chairmen and music team so keen to chose songs that edify us with God’s truth woven through the music. This year the W2W team had the delight of singing a song Cara had written based on the book of Judges. As we delved into the word, we could take that truth away with us in song as well as in discussion. It helped us remember the big truths of the text. I’ve also been encouraged often through these days as people have texted me a song as well as a verse… we may not be able to sing together in person but we can still speak to one another through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to build one another up and keep one another holding onto truth.
It’s a means of grace to receive blessing from God
Amazingly singing praise to God, is also a means for God to bless us. God delights in hearing our praise. He is glorified as we turn our hearts to him to song of His greatness and express our love. It is a two way relationship. Zephaniah 3: 7 talks about God rejoicing over us with singing.
7 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
It’s a beautiful picture of a love relationship of a bridegroom and his bride. It reaffirms our relationship is based on God’s love for us and his commitment to make us His own.
It can be a witness to unbelievers
This is maybe not the most obvious or important reason the scripture gives, but it does say in 1 Corinthians that when believers are gathered together worshiping God, unbelievers will see and hear our worship and be drawn to God (16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit (in tongues), how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer,[d] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 1 Cor 14:16 – see also v 23, 24… the context is that the inquirer will hear what is said and sung and understand something of the gospel message)
How do we share this principle in these days while the building is shut? Perhaps by encouraging unbelieving friends to watch a service online with you, sharing a Christian song online with a word of explanation, or inviting them to join you and other believers as you socialise?
There may be countless other reasons that singing is such a miss, and why we are right to grieve the lack of opportunity to sing in the company of one another, but lets hold onto the deeper principles and celebrate the truths that cannot be legislated against. Let's praise God as often as we can even virtually until we are able to gather together once more.
*(“The biblical theology of church” by E. Clowney in The church the bible and the world ed. DA Carson)