With the dawn of the Reformation came the recovery of congregational singing. If you had entered a local church prior to the Reformation, during the Medieval period (approx. 500-1500 AD), you would not have heard much singing from the congregation. In fact, there were many places where the congregation was actively discouraged from singing – even forbidden! Singing was left to the professionals, the monastic choirs that were trained and seated up near the “altar.” They were viewed as “Levites.” For the Medieval Church, worship was all about experience, and the untrained voices of the congregation would not stir the emotions. As praise bands and “worship leaders” have become the new norm in Evangelical churches, we are witnessing a similar phenomenon. There is a decline in robust congregational singing, there is a quest for the “worship experience,” and a priestly caste claims to “lead us into the presence of God.”
But Ephesians 5:18-21 & Colossians 3:16-17 (text below) encourage all Christians to sing out:
1. For the glory of your God:
a. to give Him thanks.
b. to show Him reverence.
2. For the good of your church family:
a. to teach and admonish them, so the gospel dwells richly in them.
b. as an act of humble submission and service toward them.
3. For your own good:
a. to be filled with the joy of the Spirit.
b. so the gospel dwells richly in you.
Singing is not to manufacture a mood and manipulate your emotions so you have a “spiritual experience”; it is an act of service in response to God’s word. Thus, all Christians are called to participate, because we are all called to love God and love our neighbor in response to God’s word. Therefore, when you assemble, don’t remain silent! And don’t settle for a church where you cannot hear your neighbor’s voice over the praise band or organ. Lift your voice for His glory, for the good of your brother and sister, and for your own joy in the gospel.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.