Why Do We Do What We Do In Worship? #5 - The Singing of Hymns
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
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.
We generally sing at least four hymns during our worship service: A “Hymn of Praise” in which God is praised for who He is and what He has done; a “Hymn of Thanksgiving” in which we give thanks for the forgiveness of sins and salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ; a “Hymn of Preparation” in which we ask God to get us ready to listen to and then act upon His Word; and a “Hymn of Response” in which the theme of the sermon and its application of God’s Word to our lives is reinforced. Often we will also sing a “Hymn of Blessing”, which precedes and draws attention the Benediction, God’s dismissing word of assurance to His gathered people.
When it comes to the worship of God, we are called to sing. “Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise!” (Psalm 66:1). “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD” (Psalm 95:1). Why? Here are three good reasons.
First, singing helps the truths of God’s Word to dwell in us. God wants us to sing words accompanied by music to drive home their importance. Singing helps us remember God’s Word.
Second, singing together helps to apply the truths of God’s Word to our hearts. Singing as a congregation is to our hearts what reciting together the Apostles’ Creed, for example, is to our minds. It is stating those things that are to be believed in the language of the affections – the language of the heart – and counseling one another to believe them and act on them. Singing helps us respond to God’s grace.
Third, congregational singing helps our hearts to love and trust God and His Word. Singing in a worship service is where our affections are turned toward God and where we express our love for him and our trust in him corporately as the church. Singing helps us reflect God’s glory.
Whether the hymns we sing are those from Israel’s hymnbook (the Psalms), the early church, the classic period of hymns, or those written in recent years, the goal is that they all be doctrinally sound, theologically rich, and musically excellent. Singing hymns in unison as a congregation is a significant way that we can “together . . . with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6).