by Serena Sickler
Jesus himself sang hymns with the disciples at the Last Supper.
It would seem that something addressed so often and emphasized so strongly is important to God. But why is singing—particularly in worship—so essential? Though there are undoubtedly more, here are four biblical reasons that Christians sing in worship.
Expressing Truth About God
A major aspect of worship is simply recognizing truth about God. The psalms are full of these truths.
In Psalm 18:2, God is praised as a Savior and Deliverer: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
It is not enough to know things about God. We must declare them to others!
We recognize his power as creator and ruler of all things: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6).
The psalmist tells us all these wonderful truths about God and urges us, “Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings” (Psalm 9:11). It is not enough to know all these things about God, but we must declare them to others!
Fulfilling God’s Original Purpose for Singing
One clear example of singing that pleased God took place at Solomon’s dedication of the temple: “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord. . .that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14).
This is a beautiful example of what can happen when we worship God through our singing. God created all things to glorify Him. Music is just one of those things. Though we live in a sin-cursed world where music is often used to glorify sin, we—through Christ—can still use our music for God’s original intent.
Being Unified With Other Believers
Though we like to think we are self-sufficient, God never intended for us to live the Christian life on our own.
When we sing as a church we are encouraging each other to continue in Christ’s love and service. We may all come from different backgrounds, but we all believe in one common faith. Our singing, especially the words we sing, emphasizes that fact.
Expressing the Christian Heart
One can see the parallels between David’s life and the life of a Christian: the deliverance from captivity, the fresh purpose in life, and the new song to sing. This new song tells of the joy and fulfillment we find in Christ; it signifies a transformed life. This song is more than just music to sing, but a life to be lived.
St. Augustine wrote both a warning and an exhortation to his congregation on singing a new song: “Look, you tell me, I am singing. Yes indeed, you are singing; you are singing clearly, I can hear you. But make sure that your life does not contradict your words. Sing with your voices, your hearts, your lips and your lives: Sing to the Lord a new song.” Our singing should be an honest and joyful expression of who we are in Christ.
Our singing should be an honest and joyful expression of who we are in Christ.
Psalm 150:6 sums it all up, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” No one is exempt from praising the Lord—not even unbelievers! As Christians we should rejoice in God’s salvation and through our singing point others to the God we glorify.
For more on music, read “What Does Our Music Say About Us.”
Vine, W. E., Unger M.F., & White, W. (1996) Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.