Congregational singing is a pretty unique event. Where else do you find large groups of people gathered in one place, singing about and to God?
We are familiar with large groups of people singing the national anthem at sporting events. And of course there are various kinds of choirs that perform various kinds of music in various kinds of settings. But there are few occasions where large groups of people, regardless of their musical abilities, sing together.
So what gives? What would cause ordinary people, who may not sing a single tune all week, suddenly to open their mouths along with others to sing songs together once they are inside a church building?
Let’s think about the togetherness factor for a moment. Christians sing together. What is that all about? Why not just sing a solo at home? Why sing together with other Christians? Because this togetherness is an expression of the bond of unity that exists between Christians. Christians are united with each other through the bond of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:3) They belong together. The Bible calls them members of one body. And congregational singing is an act that expresses this unity among believers.
Christians also have many things in common, such as the same God, the same Saviour, the same Spirit, the same salvation, the same forgiveness of sins, the same destination and so on. (see Eph. 4:4-6) We share a common faith. So we can talk about the same things and we can sing about the same things.
And the singing part – why do Christians sing? Why not just chant to God as a group, or read a psalm or the words of a hymn together? Is it not because song (music) is the means of communication that gets closest to our emotions, our feelings? And so it is the most deeply felt way in which we can communicate our feelings? Is it not because we can put more feeling into our song than into any other form of verbal communication?
So singing allows the Christian to pour out his true feelings about God and his relationship to God. And songs that are well written (we will say more about this some other time) allow the Christian to put his feelings into words, and express them to God directly. And in a congregational setting, Christians are able to to this together. What a beautiful thing!
Some of us will have had occasion to have been part of large gatherings of Christians singing together. Big is not necessarily better, but it is a powerful thing when a large group of believers joins together in songs of praise and worship to the one and only God. And this is a precursor of that time when all believers of all ages will sing songs of praise to the living God and the living Christ together – where everyone will be singing with overflowing amazement at the awesome grace that was given to us in Christ.
Congregational singing is a beautiful practice of the church of God. Whether it is a satisfying experience or not depends on the circumstances. On this site I hope to discuss some of the factors that influence those circumstances.