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My husband said, “Amen,” and five voices immediately joined his as we began singing our morning blessing song around the breakfast table. Seth, an overnight guest, looked from face to face with an expression bordering on terror until we sang the last note, and then blurted, “Do you do this often?”
Because we wanted our children to be singers, we sang.
Because we wanted them to know the old hymns, we passed out hymnals around the table, and we have sung our way through their pages multiple times.
Keith and Kristyn Getty have made similar choices for their young family and Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family,and Church is the first paragraph in what they hope will become an ongoing conversation about singing. When they say, “We need to talk about singing,” they’ve gone first, setting forth their heart beat concerning the massive implications of the biblical command to sing.
History is on their side. Martin Luther emphasized preaching the Word as well as singing the Word:
“Let God speak directly to His people through the Scriptures, and let His people respond with grateful songs of praise.”
Even so, the Getty’s emphasis on congregational singing feels counter-cultural in our current environment that emphasizes up-front singing. When Paul said to “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” he was addressing the whole church, not a team of specialists. He was inviting them into “one of the greatest and most beautiful tools we’ve been given to declare God’s excellence.”
Just as all Christians have been declared to be witnesses, we are also declared to be singers, designed for singing, and even if our voices are not of performance quality, we can lift them as part of the fulfillment of our chief end: “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
Awareness of our role as one puzzle piece in the cosmos, each doing one part to sing the mighty power of God puts everything in perspective and drives home the lesson that even our singing is not about us.
The Getty’s have taken Colossians 3:16 as a commandment that also specifies how we sing:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
How different our gathered worship would be if every part of it could be done “with grace in our heart to the Lord!”
“You are not singing Christianly if you are singing only with your lips. The root of true thankfulness is the gratitude in our hearts for the unmerited benefits of God’s goodness in our lives.“
The camp where our family volunteers (and where, back in the day, our kids were all campers) has a robust music component to its ministry philosophy with singing at meals, in morning chapel, in Bible classes, and then at the end of the day with evening chapel and more singing. We love this because the truth goes home with the campers in memorable and shareable form, often into very dark places that would otherwise never have the light of Truth.
“Singing deep songs of the Lord keeps the right voice loudest in our ears.”
Anyone who has spent any amount of time reading the journals of well-known missionaries knows that the pages are crammed with hymn lyrics — and this is because their hearts had been shaped and deeply imprinted by the truth the hymns convey. The vehicle of music carries lyrics deeply and effortlessly into our brains, and well-written hymns convey a freight of rich theological truth. The Getty’s mission in their creative composition of modern day hymns is to foster that same connection between spiritually compelling words and music that captures the imagination.
The aim of Sing is that believers would move toward a more robust singing life in our homes and in our churches; that we would “sing truth and sing it as though it is true.” By singing to one another, we affirm the truth and strengthen one another in our convictions. By singing to others, we invite them into the knowledge of the Truth in a way that’s winsome and challenging; and we inch our way toward bringing about the fulfillment of our own prayer:
” . . . on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
This book was provided by B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”