We just marked our annual “Choir Sunday” at my parish, with the choir singing at all four of the Masses. This yearly event helps raise awareness about our upcoming Christmas concert — and can even entice a few voices to join the folks up in the loft. I was traveling and missed Choir Sunday this year, but I know they sang this for the processional: “When in Our Music God is Glorified.”
“When in our music God is glorified, And adoration leaves no room for pride, It is as though the whole creation cried: Alleluia!”
As if on cue, one of my Facebook friends posted this reflection from the website Desiring God. This underscores (pun intended) the importance and power of singing in church:
Congregational singing can be polarizing. For some people, singing is their favorite part of the church’s gathering. Others prefer to arrive on Sunday mornings just as the worship team is wrapping up and the sermon is about to begin. For those in the latter category, perhaps you’re highly self-conscious about your lack of ability to carry a tune, or maybe you don’t jibe with the style of music your church’s hipster music director tends to choose.
Whatever the reason, I want you to hear that your church suffers when your voice is silent.
The Bible is full of singing and songs. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if God’s divine speech, by which he spoke the world into existence, sounded more like a song than a seminar. Adam’s first words to Eve are beautifully poetic (Genesis 2:23). The largest book in the Bible is a collection of songs. At least once, if not more often, the apostle Paul quotes or crafts what seems to be an early Christian hymn (Colossians 1:15–20). And Jesus himself sang (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26).
And for good reason: singing uniquely engages our heads and our hearts, our intellect and our affections. That’s basically what Paul says in Colossians 3:16, where he connects “the word of Christ dwell[ing] in you richly” with “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” Good songs take the truths hovering in our heads and sink them down for our hearts to dwell on.
And he adds:
What about when you don’t feel like singing, though? When your soul is downcast, and your faith is diminished? These are the times when your church needs your voice the most.
The gospel is on full display in our weakness. When all is going well for you, and life is sailing smoothly along, you should sing — but it’s less surprising when you do. When all is going well, it is surprising when you don’t sing.
But when life is falling apart, and trials threaten your security, that is when your singing becomes a forceful testimony to the faithfulness of God.
Sing out! And if you are in the neighborhood, stop by our parish on December 15 for our annual concert, featuring “Messiah” and popular carols. You will feel like you are at Carnegie Hall.