Five Reasons Why We Sing in Christian Worship

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Throughout the ages, God’s people have gathered before Him in song. Worship music has been and continues to be the enduring and imaginative expression of God’s people in praise, celebration, lament, and longing. There is beauty in the act of a multitude of voices combining in unified glory to God. There is also mystery in why this simple act of worship is so profound. We may never fully understand why God created humanity with such great affection for musical expression, but there are a few dynamics of congregational song that are important to note:

Singing fuels our love for God.

Worship is an act that calls us to delight in the triune God. Worship music, then, invites us to participate in passionate expression of the marvelous story of God. The church’s songs are testimonials and declarations of the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Proclaiming and affirming our faith through song stirs our hearts and nurtures our affections. Furthermore, singing is the good, right, and loving response of creation to who God is and what God has done.

Singing aids our corporate memory.

Through the careful partnership of music and words, songs of worship are able to capture theological ideas and spiritual mysteries, providing a natural structure for memory. The practice of singing finds special meaning in the gathered community because it continually shapes our faith and reminds us of the gospel.

Singing is an expression of body, mind, and heart.

The act of singing is an embodied act of worship. Music carries emotional power because it comes to us through our bodies, utilizes our minds, and invokes our will. When we sing, we use our voices and bodies to express our faith and delight in the triune God.

Singing unifies the church.

Music is a natural act that brings the church together in one voice. Congregational song has a powerful way of allowing each individual voice to contribute to a singular, unified sound. When the church joins in singing a lament, the words and music share the sorrow of those who are suffering. When the church sings a song of celebration, the words and music foster a collective sense of hope and victory. The act of singing is a glorious example of the church operating as the body of Christ.

Singing is a means of grace.

Colossians 3:16 acknowledges music as an important channel the Spirit uses to build up and nourish God’s people. Singing not only focuses our attentions upon God but also reminds us of His attitude of grace toward us. By singing scriptural and theological truth, we are able to both express and receive the grace of God.

Hymnals, as a tangible collection of music, serve a unique role in expressing worship and helping form Christian communities. As this hymnal is used for gatherings of worship, may God put a song in our mouths, and may we never cease to use this magnificent gift of singing to glorify the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Get the new Asbury Hymnal from our store here. “Here is a wonderful canon of hymns for the Asbury community (on our campuses and abroad in the lives of our alumni and friends), rich in sung theology and warm in the experiential call of the gospel. These hymns connect us with the worship of the church through the ages and throughout the strands of Asbury’s tradition. Here are great treasures of history through which we join with the saints throughout time in their words of worship.”

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Dr. Jonathan A. Powers is Assistant Professor of Worship Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, where he shares his passion for the intersection of liturgy and spiritual formation in the life of the church. Jonathan is the author of 12 Days of Christmas Sermons, and co-author with Jason Jackson and Teddy Ray of Echo: A Catechism for Discipleship in the Ancient Tradition, both published by Seedbed. He and his wife Faith have two daughters.

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