A group of business people take their seats around a conference table. A guy with a guitar enters, invites them all to stand, and the suited gathering sings the corporate mission statement.
That doesn’t happen.
Church is one of the very few places where people gather together and sing. And it’s strange. And uncomfortable for many. And I struggle with why on earth we do this at all. Why do I, as a “worship leader”, sing about God, hoping others will join in?
Why do we sing together when the English word “worship” in our bibles is translated from 16 different Greek and Hebrew words that don’t mean music?
Why do we sing when there is no biblical record of Jesus and his disciples singing together?
Why do we sing when the earliest Christians didn’t always have music at their gatherings?
Why do we sing though it makes newcomers uncomfortable?
Why do we sing though it gives us one more thing to disagree about and fuss over?
Why do we sing when the money spent on sound systems and hymnals could do so much good in the world?
Music can “animate, organize and bring a sense of identity back to people.”
Ty Morgan and I are the volunteers heading up music stuff at our church. Part of our role is choosing new music to introduce. Our first priority is that the words are true. Our second is that there are no barriers to people participating in singing it – the style is accessible, the melody is singable, the range is for mortals, etc. There are a lot of songs that meet these basic criteria though, so we sometimes find ourselves talking about what’s needed.
Ty and I inherited a catalog heavily weighted toward songs with “I” and “me” lyrics. We’ve added more songs that are “we” and “us” and “our.”
There weren’t many songs about Jesus, the cross, the resurrection. We’ve brought some in.
There were a lot of “vertical” songs and we’ve added more songs that also speak about the “horizontal” dimension of our faith.
Because God can use songs to animate the stuck, organize our theology around God’s character and mission, and give us back a sense of identity: We are God’s people who believe these things and live this way together.
Music can remind us who we are.
Just one of many good reasons to sing.