Sing a New Song!
“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 96:1
We sing a lot in church, and we sing more than just hymns. During our worship, we sing the Psalms, we sing canticles (portions of scripture set to music) like the Nunc Dimittis. It seems like almost every time we gather for worship, we are singing. There is a very good and simple reason why we sing so much in worship; singing feeds the mind and warms the soul.
Singing plays an enormous role in people’s lives throughout the world. People sing on birthdays, sing while in their cars, and sing lullabies to put babies to bed. In the church we sing to praise the goodness of our God, sing to learn/teach the faith, and sing to secure a firm foundation of faith in our lives for decades to come.
If you have ever read through the Psalms, you may notice they are written a bit differently than other portions of scripture like one of Jesus’ parables or one of Paul’s epistles. This is because the Psalms were written to be chanted or sung. They were designed with the intent of being sung so that not only our minds would be fed by God’s Word, but also our souls might be warmed in the faith. I believe this twofold purpose of singing (feeding our minds and warming our souls) is crucial for our Christian lives and helps us see the very important role singing has in the church.
It’s very important for us to sing in the church because there are times when we actually need it. Yes, we actually do NEED to sing. We need to sing because singing is sometimes the only way God’s Word can reach us, and singing definitely reaches us in ways that simply reading the scriptures cannot always accomplish. For example, on Good Friday we sing many hymns. We sing hymns that call to mind all that Christ accomplished for us in his crucifixion. You may remember the very famous hymn “Were You There.” This hymn has singers consider what the experience of witnessing the crucifixion firsthand would have been like. It is a hymn that definitely touches the mind and soul. It is also a hymn that would lose a bit of its proverbial “punch” if it were merely spoken out loud or read silently. Also, consider the many hymns of praise we have in our hymnal like, “Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today”. This hymn not only confesses the resurrection of Christ to this world, but almost whisks us away into the extended arms of Christ himself as we sing.
I am particularly impressed with the singing of hymns in the most challenging times of our lives. During the death of a loved one, prolonged illness, unemployment, or severe trial or temptation, there may be nothing more powerful to carry you through than to sing of Christ in hymns such as “Beautiful Savior” or “Amazing Grace.” During these difficult periods we may be unable to articulate how we feel or what we think, but in many ways that is not important. What is of greater importance is knowing that Christ is willing and able to preserve us in the faith through his Word and sacraments and, very often, those Words come to us through the singing of hymns for the feeding of our minds and the warming of our souls. May our Lord continue to place these songs in our minds and souls to bless us.
Pastor Martin Spaude
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