Why do Christians sing at church?
Understanding why music is such an important part of our time together.
If you listen to the latest songs, you'll notice that people tend to sing about what they love, what they are passionate about, and what they want to tell others about.
That’s why so many songs are about relationships – either wanting to start them, wanting them to continue, wanting them to end or wishing they hadn’t ended.
It's also the reason why songs about random objects, like a yellow submarine or a hairbrush, are comical – because the notion of someone being passionate about them is a bit ridiculous.
The reason Christians sing in church is actually surprisingly similar.
We sing about what we love, what we are passionate about, and what we want to tell others about. But instead of being a human relationship, a social justice cause or something trivial, we sing about and to our God. We sing about who he is – the one God in three persons, our creator, our powerful, sovereign King – and what he has done for us – dying for us in our place, so that we can have eternal life with him.
One of the books in the Old Testament, the Psalms, is a collection of songs which sing of and to God. Often the songwriters are very personal and honest about the struggles they are facing, but still praise God for who he is and what he’s done.
An example of this is Psalm 13. The author, David, is clearly on the point of despair. But he finishes the song by saying:
“But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.” – Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)
Like many singers today, the Psalmists sang about what they loved, were passionate about, and what they wanted other people to know about. For them, that was God.
Singing to God and to each other
Christ’s coming to earth as fully God and fully man, in order to live a life free of sin and take the punishment we deserved on the cross, means that there is even more reason to sing about him, and sing to him.
In his letter to the Colossian church, the apostle Paul writes:
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” – Colossians 3:16
Here Paul shows us that when we sing, we are singing in two directions:
- To God: “singing to God with gratitude in your hearts”
- To each other: “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the spirit”
So as well as singing to God, thanking him for who he is, what he has done and asking him to help us live for him, we’re also singing to each other. We’re reminding each other of the truths that we are to hold on to.
Singing is a great way to remember things - that’s why we use it to teach kids the alphabet and their times tables (multiplication). And so when we sing songs that proclaim the truths about God that we find in the bible, we remind each other of what we can so easily forget – that God is our creator, our king and our Saviour.
So, next time you’re singing at church, don’t just mouth the words while your mind wanders. Think about the words you’re singing. Think about who you’re singing to. Think about who you’re singing about.