Why Is It So Critical That We Sing Together?

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Why is it so important that we sing together on Sundays? Why can’t I just go out in the woods and sing or just light up a fire in my fireplace and sing to God by myself in the cozy comfort of my den?

Isn’t our Sunday worship just a warm up for the message? A way to gather everyone together for the preaching? Why can’t we just skip the singing together and get to the real meat?

Our times of worship together are critical. And unless we are unable to make it, we should not neglect to sing together with other believers. Not that God doesn’t love our songs to him at home. But something unique happens when we sing together. The word of Christ dwells in us richly.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

All of us need to regularly soak in “the word of Christ,” or the gospel. We need to be reminded of Christ and his work over and over again. We’re so prone to slipping into condemnation or a subtle works mentality. We need to be reminded again and again we’re justified by Jesus’ blood. Of Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We need fresh encouragement that though there is tribulation in the world, Christ has overcome the world. We need to turn the diamond of the gospel around and around and examine it from every angle.

The gospel dwells in us richly through teaching, preaching and admonishment. But Colossians tells us the word of Christ also dwells in us richly when we sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness together. Our weekly times of corporate singing are times of steeping in the gospel. Times of meditating on all God has done for us through Jesus. Times to refocus our minds on Christ.

And music does this in a way that preaching can’t. In songs phrases are repeated and tied to music. This makes them more memorable. Singing is a way of meditating on God’s word. It’s mulling it over. It’s chewing on it, rolling it over, chewing some more. The word of Christ dwelling richly. Music is powerful in this way. I can still remember lyrics I sang in high school and college. Advertisers know the power of linking lyrics to music. A lyrical hook tied to a musical hook will have you singing about toothpaste or beer or home repairs when you’re walking down the street or cleaning your basement. I can still sing the jingle for Pepsodent Toothpaste I heard as a kid, and I don’t even know if that toothpaste exists any more.

Here’s the power of lyrics tied to music. Shortly after I was married I found myself singing Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” without even thinking about it. “You just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan, you don’t need to be coy, Roy, just get yourself free?.must be 50 ways to leave your lover?.” Suddenly I caught myself. “What the heck am I singing? I don’t want to be singing that. I just got married!”

Because our Sunday singing is an opportunity for the word of Christ, or gospel to dwell in us richly, we should always include songs about what Jesus has done for us on the cross. We should sing about God’s glorious attributes – his holiness, greatness, love, mercy, and faithfulness. But like Paul, we should root all in the gospel – the birth, life, substitutionary death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Sing of God’s holiness – but remember we can only come before a holy God because of the cross. Sing of God’s love – he loves us so much he sent Christ for us. Sing of God’s mercy – the supreme example: the cross. Sing of God’s generosity – he gave his Son. Not that every single song needs to be about the cross, but I tell our worship team to make sure we have at least one every Sunday.

Every word counts. We want “the word of Christ” to dwell in us richly. Make sure every song you sing on Sunday is full of sound doctrine. There have been times we haven’t done a song because of one line. Though I value creative song lyrics, sometimes in an effort to be creative, the meaning of a line may be vague or unclear. Don’t do those songs. There are plenty of creative, beautiful, clear songs.

Sing the gospel together. Let it ruminate and roll around in your heart and fill you with joy.

Comments

  1. Grant says

    Great article. Some friends of my wife and mine `were just talking last night about the lack of men engaging in worship in our church. It really disheartens me because of the things listed above but it also makes me wonder where our church is at if we have believing men not worshipping together weekly. Have any insight on this? Wondering if this is an anomaly or if this is something taking over churches in America especially as the role and responsibility of the man seems to be deteriorating with the collapse of men in our society.

    • MarkAltrogge says

      Thanks Grant. I\’m not sure if by a lack of men engaging you mean they aren\’t coming at all or if they are coming and not outwardly worshiping very enthusiastically. If men are not coming, that is serious, especially if they are Christians. If they come, they may be worshipping inwardly. Although I believe we should express our worship, sometimes people are not comfortable being outwardly expressive. They may still be worshipping and pleasing to God. And they may worship in other ways, like giving or serving. It\’s worth discussing though.

  2. says

    Hi Mark,
    Very thankful for our worship.
    I agree "Make sure every song you sing on Sunday is full of sound doctrine. " But i honestly think there is room for us to be open to a variety of worship styles and lyrics that may not be the norm for our church worship. It has been refreshing singing some songs from Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, and Matt Redman. You mentioned "There have been times we haven’t done a song because of one line." We would have to keep up the guard that this would not be legalistic and works oriented and that we think this sets us apart as "true worshipers"- not saying this is the case but could be a view. Although I know the intent is for our good it can come off a little that way. Sure in years gone by that many Christians expressed their heart in words that may not be the way we would expect although doctrinal may be ok. One example i can think of is " Would we feel comfortable singing some of the Psalms, or Song of Solomon, on a Sunday, that are part of scripture, yet may be unclear if metaphorical or figurative , not sure. So very thankful for the worship and the teaching but also looking forward to see how the Holy Spirit continues to broaden our view and encourages our worship and songwriters in the future.

  3. says

    Ephesians 5:19 "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord." As we 'speak to one another' we encourage, strengthen and challenge one another; even as we sing unto the Lord. So thankful how Paul ties all this together!
    ~ Francine

  4. JackW says

    Thanks Mark, great teaching!

    I often get looks of surprise when I tell people that the music ministry is a teaching ministry. After I show them Col. 3:16 I show them James 3:1 as the reason songs with questionable doctrine should not be used.

  5. Bob B. says

    Thanks for posting this. Too many worship leaders do not understand this, and provide a "rock concert" worship service that isn't singable due to the fact that no one knows the songs and nothing is provided besides the words to help the congregation sing together. Worship denigrates to an exercise of just watching the worship leaders do their own worship on stage.

  6. beth says

    Love this article and reminder about singing Truth corporately. I think it would be helpful to change the focus from only Sunday gathering as the time to do this. Believers meet together at other times and often regularly on days other than Sunday around the world.

  7. herb says

    Good article. Great points. ‘We want ?the word of Christ? to dwell in us richly’. You’ve just made the case for exclusive Psalmody.

  8. Tim says

    You left out any comment on “one another”. There are 58 of these in the NT. This dynamic is believer driven not platform driven. It is personal expression from the heart of each believer present. It includes personal response from other believers. It is mutual, two-way, participative teaching, admonishing, and singing. This is the exact opposite of platform driven forms of these. One-way requires one person coming prepared to lead. One another demands all saints to come prepared to lead. This means church is 24/7 preparation. That is what God is after, not the lazy once a week walk in the door expecting to be spoon fed. This is a complete paradigm shift. I have seen this done with power, specially when children participate, fully prepared. It flows from families that worship at home together and then share it with the body when they meet.

    It is the prepared participative involvement in teaching, admonishing and singing that brings the richness of the word of Christ with all wisdom. Platform driven forms of this are very poor and lacking in wisdom. No one retains much of what is heard by Monday. Few care that this is the result. God designed us to come gather overflowing with truth to share, not starving and limping in needing to be spoon fed from a platform.

    Eph. 5:19+ is the mirror of Col. 3:16 that show that “speaking to one another in psalms hymns and spiritual songs” is what it means to be “filled with the Spirit”. Leave out the “speaking to one another” and the filling will be absent. There may be plenty of emotion but it won’t be Spirit filling. We cannot do the opposite of what God asks for and get His results. Ti

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