Singing is a very essential part of our worship of God and needs to be a part of every house church. Our desire is to help you as best we can to make a beautiful, joyful sound in singing praises to our God. God loves singing, and loves to hear us sing praises to Him. The purpose of this article is to help you see how important your singing is to God, and to encourage you to perfect the singing ability of those in your house church.
Singing, whether a cappella (without instruments), or accompanied with instruments, has ALWAYS been an important part of the worship of God. Singing in worship of God existed in eternity past before the world was created. God created music and singing before He created the world. That is how important music and singing is to God. Music is not a human invention. God tells us in Job 38:4-7, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
In addition, we know that God also sings and expresses joy with songs like we do. We were made in the image of God in the ability to sing and enjoy music. In Zephaniah 3:17 we find that God sings songs of joy about us! “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
God tells us also that singing will be an important part of worshiping Him in Heaven when we are all gathered around the Him at the Throne.
Revelation 15:2-3 “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”
Revelation 14:2-3 “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”
Singing has had a significant place in the worship of God for thousands of years. There were temple musicians and singers a number of years before the first kings of Israel. Those musicians and singers had a full time ministry in the Temple singing and worshiping God day and night. 1 Chronicles 9:33 “And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.”
It is interesting to note that the emphasis in the Bible is on singing rather than on listening to music. God instructs us five times in the Bible to sing a new song to Him. Psalm 96:1 is one of those passages: “O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.” What is significant about a new song is that a new song is not one borrowed from the world. A new song is one that is written specifically to be sung to the Lord. God has an opinion about what type of worship music and songs we sing to Him. It is important in worshiping God that we sing the types of songs and music that God likes not just pick the types of songs that we like. How can it be worship if God thinks that our music and singing is awful and stinks? God said this about the worship music in Amos 5:23 that He didn’t like: “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.” We can kid ourselves that God likes our worship music that we sing to Him, but if He hates it as much as He did the singing and music in Amos 5:23, we are wasting our time. It is not worship.
Don’t use rock, rap, New Age, or any other music style that is known to be used in the worship of Satan or evil spirits to try to worship God, even if it has “Christian words”. Music styles that are used to speak to evil spirits will be repulsive to God’s Spirit even if the words are right. We encourage you to use music that your are certain that is not borrowed from the world, and is not borrowed from bar room tunes, etc, but sing music that is decidedly Godly music. To truly worship God we need to sing music that has been composed by Christians whose heart are in tune with God’s heart; music that is truly a new song.
Singing in the New Testament
Singing was also an important part of the church in New Testament times. Jesus sang and left us an example that we should also sing. In Matthew 26:30 it says: “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” Another example of singing is Paul and Silas. They sang in prison at midnight. Acts 16:25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”
In the New Testament God gives us some clear instruction about the importance of singing by the church and how it should be done.
Romans 15:5-11 “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.”
We find throughout the New Testament that God’s desire is that everyone in His church believe the same thing. Singing (v.6) is one way that everyone “with one mind and one mouth” can glorify God together in unity. When we sing, everyone is singing to the Lord with the same words, and we are agreeing together that what we are singing is what we believe about Him. There is a beauty about the oneness of what we say that is pleasing to God.
Then in verse 9 God tells us something very significant about singing by the church. God tells us that singing is an important part of evangelism and drawing non-Christians to Christ – “That the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy”. God also tells us the same thing in Psalms 40:3 that many will be drawn to Him through our singing a new song, “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”
In looking back through history we find that singing indeed has been an important part of bringing people to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. In the 1500’s, singing was an important part of the Anabaptist house churches. Because of persecution, the Anabaptists met in homes, caves or secluded spots. But that did not stop their singing in worship of their Lord. “Without a doubt, hymns were a factor in Anabaptist evangelism, both sung and read. Christian Neff says ‘A flood of religious songs poured over the young brotherhood like a vivifying and refreshing stream. The songs became the strongest attractive force for the brotherhood.” (The Mennonite Encyclopedia p. 791)
Singing has been an important part of all the great revivals. Invitations to receive Christ were usually given with a song. Singing speaks to the mind as well as to the heart and spirit, and helps bring conviction upon many lost souls. Music communicates on the spirit level and communicates to a person’s spirit, and communicates to that part in their spirit that has a longing for a deep relationship with God’s Spirit. Words alone cannot communicate to a person’s spirit like music can.
Ephesians 5:18-20 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”
Proper singing by the Church is a result of being filled with the Spirit of God. Godly music is the outpouring and the communication of the Spirit of God within us. In the worship service and with “Christian music” it is important that we evaluate whether the musician is filled with God’s Spirit or another spirit.
Singing in the church needs to teach and encourage one another, and at the same time the singing is to the Lord. God commands us to use different types and styles of songs in worship. Some advocate Psalms only. That is not Biblical. Some advocate choruses only. That is not Biblical. Some allow only hymns. That is not Biblical.
Singing to the Lord needs to come from our heart. We need to mean what we sing.
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
God tells us to let the Word live in us richly in all wisdom. Wisdom is using singing to engraft God’s Word into our hearts. Education researchers have discovered that children learn quicker and retain things better if it is set to music. God tells the same thing, that music is an important part of our spiritual learning in the worship service. Singing helps us to be successful in our Christian lives. The songs we sing or listen or allow our children and young people to listen to, shape our theology and understanding of the Christian life. What songs we sing and listen to, are as important as the theology of the preachers we listen to.
It is important to evaluate the meaning of the words of the songs we sing in the worship service and the songs we listen to at home:
- What view of God is being portrayed – is it one sided? (Ex. Choruses often focus on Jesus as a friend and focus on God’s love and neglect God’s other attributes)
- Are there aspects of the Christian life that are being over emphasized or missing? Ex. some hymnals have few songs on Heaven and Christ’s second coming, or few songs on evangelism and missions.
- Is the theology and facts correct?
- Does the song address Jesus as God or does it have a vague reference that could easily be applied to Jesus or Satan? Some contemporary Christian groups are borrowing songs from secular groups involved in the occult and are singing them.
1 Corinthians 14:14-16 “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?… 26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”
God tells us that singing communicates both on the spirit level and also with the mind. This is stated a number of times in the NT. Music cannot be evaluated only with our mind to determine good or bad music. v.15
Our singing must strengthen the church (v.26). Singing in the church is to edify the church, not entertain. It needs to have a purpose just like a sermon or Bible lesson.
James 5:13 “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.”
Singing is something we should do when we are happy. It is a good time to praise the Lord. Singing is for everyone, not just for a select group like it was in the Old Testament.
Singing has always been an important part of the worship of God and He enjoys hearing us sing a new song to Him. Therefore it is important that we as the church, learn to sing and learn to make a beautiful sound that God likes. One of the benefits of four part harmony, in addition to the rich beautiful sound, is that each person is able to sing in their vocal range and make a beautiful harmonious sound. We encourage you to take the time to learn to sing harmony. It will enhance your worship of God, and we believe that God will enjoy listening to your singing even more.