Let’s Sing Together
Hello Church Family,
Chelsea and I watch old TV shows from time to time. One of our favorites is The Andy Griffith Show. There is an episode, and specifically a scene, that comes to my mind often. The plot revolves somehow around Barney and Andy having a double date, and the four characters gather at Andy’s house.
The scene: Andy, playing his guitar and the four of them singing loudly through a selection of their favorite tunes. An evening of entertainment spent singing and smiling with one another; what a blast! Right?
Something really perplexes me about our day and age. At this time in history, we find ourselves more surrounded by music than ever. Music in the doctor’s office, music at the grocery store, music in the car ride, and music on the Bluetooth speaker at home. We are surrounded, sometimes bombarded with music. Never in history has music been so accessible. CDs are cheap, the radio is practically free, and constant, online streaming gives us whatever music we want whenever we want it. “All I want is you and … MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC!” (You’ll amaze me if you know that song.)
What perplexes me is this: Though we are more surrounded by music than ever, we seem to be singing together less than ever.
Sunday morning worship is my primary sample here. Gone are the days when we boisterously sing with all our might (click here to see what I mean) and present are the days when congregational singing is not really well understood. I think there are a few factors to this:
Our American culture is in so many ways driven by and geared toward the individual. The communal nature of singing together can seem foreign and odd. I am more likely to belt out Empty Chair and Empty Tables in the shower than to boldly shout “How Great Thou Art!”
Most the time when we engage music these days, it is in receiving it, not participating in it. We consume songs, listen to musicals, hear scores in films, soak in the symphony. To contribute to the experience is not usually our first move as consumers.
Frankly, “Christian music” these days is not geared toward congregational singing. Not without exception, the commercial nature of the Christian music industry is often more concerned with the individual consuming music than the corporate body singing it together. Have you ever been singing in church and you thought, The range of this song is just too high for me! or, I feel like every week I go to church we sing five songs I’ve never heard before! Well, sometimes what sounds best on an album is not what works best for corporate singing.
After Jesus and the disciples partook of the last supper, they sang a hymn together (Mark 14:26). Paul instructs the church to sing together in thanksgiving (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16) and so too did Israel sing, well … a lot.
So how can we seek obedience in this? What would it be to sing loudly and passionately?
Well, to be honest, I am so encouraged by Northpoint. I think we are a rare community, in that we love to sing, we love to worship, and we love to hear each other sing. We have a great building for singing and an amazing team of servant-hearted brothers and sisters who work hard every week to provide a space and atmosphere conducive to congregational singing.
We already do a handful of things to make congregational singing a truly corporate activity:
• We sing singable songs
• We sing songs we know
• We introduce new songs mindfully
• We sing in comfortable keys
• We aim to keep the volume at a broadly comfortable level
• We choose songs very carefully
I am so thankful to be a part of a church that values singing.
Here are some notes of encouragement on how we can even still grow in our singing:
• Do not be embarrassed about the quality of your voice – Somewhere along the road, we became over-exposed to professional singers, and that quality became the standard. Hearing a trained voice is a nice experience, hearing a body of bold and passionate Christians is a moving experience. Sing boldly!
• Look at each other when we sing – This is a tough one. If you try it, you’ll know what I mean. Due to the individualistic nature of music and especially “worship music,” we often prefer to be in our own little world during singing. When we make eye contact with each other, it sometimes feels weird! Don’t let it! “Address one another with songs! Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord giving thanks always!” We are brothers and sisters bought by Christ; let’s share our love for God with each other, and join our voices as one.
• Don’t let the stage fool you – Movies, magic shows, sports games, standup comedy, and lectures. We are so used to the rhythm of the performing being on stage and the passive receiver being in the “audience.” When we gather on Sunday’s we are all active contributors. We sing to God and to each other, we hear from God’s Word, and surrender our being to Him, we all partake equally in the cup and bread, and we fellowship with each other as family. Don’t let the stage fool you into thinking this is a concert or a lecture; our Sunday gatherings are banquets, and Christ himself is the feast before us.
Heritage Hymns in Heritage Hall
In that spirit, we are going to be holding a Hymn Sing on September 30, in Heritage Hall at 6:00 p.m. The hope of this evening is to join our voices together singing hymns of the faith and enjoying this rich heritage of corporate songs. Hope to see you there!
Worship Arts Director