I love this quote from St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo and early (354-430 AD) theologian. It speaks to the power of singing. In five words this quote gives a clear picture of the importance of singing. And I realize not all singing would do this quote justice. But singing songs of scripture, prayers, praise, worship, thankfulness and repentance would all qualify as “praying” in this context.
As Christians we’re all taught the disciplines of the faith—how to pray, why we tithe, the purpose of communion, fasting, service, etc., but we’re rarely taught why we sing. And yet in many churches singing takes up as much as half of the entire Sunday service. My first twenty years as a Christian were spent in a church that at its core was musically gifted and worship-oriented and that set the tone for me to include singing and music in my daily routine. Music has been a part of my life for decades before I became a Christian, so singing (and playing instruments) in worship comes natural for me. But I know this is uncommon.
Maybe you’re not as musically inclined as you’d like. Maybe you’re just not comfortable singing. Maybe you wonder why we don’t just go straight to the teaching/preaching on Sundays and skip the whole singing thing. Maybe you just sing on Sundays because everyone else does. All of these things are ok. Not everyone is a musician. Not everyone wants to be a musician or singer.
But here’s the thing (actually I should have said “the things”). God’s word tells to sing. In fact in the NIV there are more than 400 references to singing and there are 50 direct commands to sing. We know that Jesus sang hymns with the apostles the night before his crucifixion (Matthew 26:30). We also know that God sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). The Psalms are filled with singing, putting melody to words, song-writing and instruments being played. Music and singing was central to both the Tabernacle and the Temple. And one of the things we absolutely know from scripture about Heaven is there is and always will be singing and music there.
If God’s word on the subject isn’t enough consider these things:
- There are dozens of studies that show when people sing together corporately, heartbeats literally begin to align with each other.
- Science shows singing is one of the best memorization tools known to man. Singing scripture will help deepen your Biblical knowledge. Paul also makes mention of this in Colossians 3:16.
- Studies also show that singing changes the brain. A Time Magazine study found that music “soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.”
- A university of Frankfurt study showed that singing strengthens your immune system. The researchers noticed that in most cases, the amount of proteins in the immune system that function as antibodies, known as Immunoglobulin A, were significantly higher immediately after the rehearsal. The same increases were not observed after the choir members passively listened to music.
This article just scratches the surface on the topic of singing. I would encourage you to learn more on the topic, especially if singing doesn’t come naturally to you.
Last thing, none of the above applies if you are singing songs like “Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC.
John Amodea is the worship leader at his home church, song writer and producer. He is a trained musician playing professionally since 1974. He is also Brenda’s husband and a “big deal” in the paintball culture.