To Sing Or Not To Sing...That Is The Question
Being on the platform week after week leading others in songs of worship to our Lord and Savior is a real joy but at the same time can be a little disheartening when you see people week after week not joining in the congregational singing. This then begs the question, “why aren’t they singing?”
I don’t think of myself as the judgmental type but instead, tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. In my mind, I usually put good motives on each individual for their lack of participation. I think things like, “they don’t know this song” or “they don’t think they can sing well and don’t want to be a distraction to others.” I’ve thought, maybe they had a long day and are just tired, or their voice is tired, or even maybe it’s just they don’t like this song (I’m okay with people having different music preferences than I have) and really who am I to think that everyone has to sing the songs that I pick. I go back and forth thinking, “maybe I’m just not a good leader, and maybe I need to change some things so more people will sing,” to thinking, “no matter what I do they won’t sing.”
All these thoughts can run through a music leader’s head and some may or may not be true of each individual that has entered into the church building for this time of musical worship. But regardless of the reasons for not singing, I strongly believe that the Word of God eliminates all of the excuses and reasons not to sing.
In Ephesians 5:18-19, we are called as believers to be filled with the Spirit of God and to walk in the Spirit. In Colossians 3:16 Paul encourages us to be filled with the Word of God and then he says the same thing to the church at Colossae as he said to Ephesus saying, sing with/to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs making melody to the Lord in our hearts.
Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are not what you may think of them today, but the point is that each was a different style or directive of song. Some were testimonials, some were reflective on the nature of God, and some were quotations of the Old Testament psalms. This is saying there isn’t just one type of song and that there is a benefit to the different directions of, and focus of each song. There is even the call to “making a melody.” Literally, this is the plucking of a string. This is the instrumental playing of music whether it has words or is played without words. This may look like an instrumental solo done in the church with no one singing or the long intro to a song, the interlude, or the ending that seems to go on and on.
However, all of these styles and methods of singing and playing music ought to have one common denominator, and that is, “Unto the Lord.” Hundreds of places in Scripture there is a call to the believer to sing, to sing a new song, to sing an old song, to praise Him with all instruments, to sing loudly but praise the Lord, to thank the Lord, to tell of Him and His mighty deeds. It's all about Him. Whether the songs tell us about Him, or it is directed to Him, or it is just an artistic melody void of words offered to Him. It’s all about Him.
The only allowance to refrain from playing music or to sing along is if it is not about Him nor for Him.
So, to sing or not to sing. If the music being done isn’t for Him or if you don’t have the Spirit of God indwelling you, don’t sing. But if the church is gathered together and the music being presented is for Him, to Him, and you are a child of God, then Yes, sing! Open your mouth and lift your voice, or if there aren’t words, tune your heart and mind to Him while the melody is being played. Don’t know the song? Learn it, try it, give it your best shot because that’s all God cares about. God cares about your heart posture of obedience, thankfulness, and adoration of Him.
When your mind and heart are fixed on Him, when you're filled and walking in the Spirit, when you are eternally grateful for the sacrifice and love He has poured out on you, when the Word of God is flowing through you, there is not an excuse fitting that will stop you from singing.
To sing or not to sing?
SING! Sing unto the Lord all the earth!
Psalm 96, Psalm 150, Ephesians 5, Colossians 3