It doesn’t take anyone very long to figure out that music plays a prominent role in the church. When believers gather in community for worship, we spend time in prayer, we learn about the transformational truths of the Gospel through preaching, and we sing our faith in songs about the Lord. There are not a lot of other places in our culture where groups of people sing songs together (aside from sporting events and birthdays), yet church services are filled with song. Where did we get this idea from, and why do we bother with it anyway?
If we look at the bible, we’ll discover it’s replete with songs. From Genesis through the Psalms to the canticles in the Gospels to a vision of heavenly worship in Revelation, the bible tells us that the people of God have always been a singing people and have recorded their divine inspiration into scripture. Singing was key in the early church and was re-prioritized and re-vitalized as a congregational practice in the Reformation. Martin Luther described the high value he felt belonged to music when he said “The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them.... In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” Indeed, every major Christian revival has come with a new repertoire of music, from the German Reformation to the Great Awakening to the modern day. To paraphrase modern hymnodist Keith Getty, Christians sing- it’s just part of what we do.
Just over a month ago, I attended a gathering of 3000 musicians, church worship leaders, pastors, and other people who care about the music of the church just south of Nashville, TN. This conference was sponsored by Keith and Kristyn Getty, and included speakers Alistar Begg, D. A. Carson, Paul David Tripp, David Platt, Joni Erickson Tada, and many more. Times of musical worship filled the event as well, led brilliantly by the Gettys and their band, as well as other musicians from the classical and contemporary worship worlds along with a 200-voice conference choir that I was privileged to participate in. Topics ranged from broad theological concepts about singing and worship to how singing impacts us personally and in our families to the role it plays as a witness to the world. What was most impressive, however, was not how brilliant the speakers or how great the music was, but how the focus kept being put back on the people of God singing together. Indeed, the whole conference ended with 3000 people singing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy” together in 4 (or 400) part harmony, without any instruments at all. Just people singing. It is a powerful memory that I will have with me for years to come.
Our songs are important- that we sing and what we sing (the gospel) is a higher priority than our favorite songs, preferred style choices, or vocal ability. Keith Getty himself reminded us that God created us to sing, God commands us to sing in the bible (for our own good), and God compels us to sing in response to his revealing himself to us. The songs we sing we carry through our lives- from times of greatest joy to times of greatest sorrow, from our childhood to our final days. I pray that you capture that joy each and every time we sing.
I’m very excited to have Keith and Kristyn Getty in concert with their band here at Central on Sunday November 5th. They are energetic, brilliant performers who blend their hearts for the Lord with their Irish heritage and love of tuneful melodies. I’m excited for our church family also because our Chancel Choir and the choir of Central Christian School will have the honor of singing with the band on the concert. But I’m most excited because of the songs themselves: they are written for you, that they can be an encouragement for your faith, and we can all share in this joy together.
As of October 26, tickets are still available for "Facing A Task Unfinished" with Keith and Kristyn Getty November 5 at Central. Click here to purchase tickets.