“Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:1-3
Why do we do what we do as a congregation in Worship? That’s a good and important question that we’ve been looking into. We’ve previously considered the Regulative Principle of Worship and have asked and answered questions of why we have the elements we do in our service, and why don’t we have others. We also looked at the Dialogical Principle of Worship last week, which speaks to the guide and flow of our service. As God Himself is the true audience of our worship, He graciously participates in the service with us. Therefore, one can see that our service has a back and forth flow as worship is a dialogue, a conversation, between God and His people.
More specifically, why do we sing? Some may grasp better why we pray, read and hear the Word preached, partake of the sacraments, etc. But, why do we sing as a church? Our Directory for Public Worship gives us a helpful, clear answer: “Congregational singing is a duty and privilege to be practiced and cultivated in all the churches. Let every member of the church take part in this act of worship. God’s people should sing, not merely with the lips, but with understanding and with grace in their hearts, making melody to the Lord.” (DPW II.B.2.a.)
As part of the worship we bring, we are to be a body that sings. See the two-fold reason for our singing – duty and privilege. In regards to our duty, God calls us to sing. He desires our praises be given to Him and we do so obediently. But, it’s also a great privilege to be children and sincere worshippers of God Most High. Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Whole-hearted praise coming out of the lips of believers to the Lord is beautiful! (Ps. 33:1) Praise coming from our hearts, making melody together (Eph. 5:19), is also wonderful as it shows forth glorious fruit of the Spirit’s work. Our united hearts welling up with thanksgiving, joy, and adoration as we respond to His call, His greeting of grace and peace, as we consider and respond to His forgiveness of all of our sins in Jesus Christ, as we respond to His bounty and provision, as we respond having fed on His Word and sacrament. Oh, praise Him! Yes, we should love singing to Him even if we think that we have the worst voice on earth. Shout joyfully to the Rock of your salvation!
Let the reasons why we sing help us overcome the temptation to resist opening our mouths widely to Him. You know, though some thought of John Calvin as dour and crusty when it came to singing, Calvin truly saw singing as a gift from God. He thought of it as one of the ways we offer public prayers to God. Whereas the medieval church had bound song in Latin sung only by priests, Calvin sought to free it to do what it was designed to do: to glorify God and edify His worshippers (Ps. 95:1). In fact, he insisted that everyone under his care in Geneva have the privilege of singing praises to God.
As you think more about why we sing today and in the days ahead, consider more of your duty and privilege to do so within the context of your relationship with Jesus whom you love. As you think of your love and adoration for God, it’s a joyful duty and surely is a marvelous privilege! So, let’s continue to come together and sing our hearts out glorifying God, and edifying one another with psalm, hymn, and song.