Worship in Singing

We Need to Talk About Singing

My husband said, “Amen,” and five voices immediately joined his as we sang our morning blessing song around the breakfast table. Seth, an overnight guest, looked from face to face with an expression bordering on terror until we sang the last note, and then blurted, “Do you do this often?”

We did.

Because we wanted our children to be singers, we sang.
Because we wanted them to know the old hymns, we passed out hymnals around the table, and we have sung our way through their pages multiple times.

Keith and Kristyn Getty have made similar choices for their young family and Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family,and Church is the first paragraph in what they hope will become an ongoing conversation about singing. When they say, “We need to talk about singing,” they’ve gone first, setting forth their heart beat concerning the massive implications of the biblical command to sing.

History is on their side. Martin Luther emphasized preaching the Word as well as singing the Word:

“Let God speak directly to His people through the Scriptures, and let His people respond with grateful songs of praise.”

Even so, the Getty’s emphasis on congregational singing feels counter-cultural in our current environment that emphasizes up-front singing. When Paul said to “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” he was addressing the whole church, not a team of specialists. He was inviting them into “one of the greatest and most beautiful tools we’ve been given to declare God’s excellence.”

Just as all Christians have been declared to be witnesses,  we are also declared to be singers, designed for singing, and even if our voices are not of performance quality, we can lift them as part of the fulfillment of our chief end: “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Awareness of our role as one puzzle piece in the cosmos, each doing one part to sing the mighty power of God puts everything in perspective and drives home the lesson that even our singing is not about us.

The Getty’s have taken Colossians 3:16 as a commandment that also specifies how we sing:

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.

How different our gathered worship would be if every part of it could be done “with grace in our heart to the Lord!”

“You are not singing Christianly if you are singing only with your lips. The root of true thankfulness is the gratitude in our hearts for the unmerited benefits of God’s goodness in our lives.

The camp where our family volunteers (and where, back in the day, our kids were all campers) has a robust music component to its ministry philosophy with singing at meals, in morning chapel, in Bible classes, and then at the end of the day with evening chapel and more singing. We love this because the truth goes home with the campers in memorable and shareable form, often into very dark places that would otherwise never have the light of Truth.

“Singing deep songs of the Lord keeps the right voice loudest in our ears.”

Anyone who has spent any amount of time reading the journals of well-known missionaries knows that the pages are crammed with hymn lyrics — and this is because their hearts had been shaped and deeply imprinted by the truth the hymns convey.  The vehicle of music carries lyrics deeply and effortlessly into our brains, and well-written hymns convey a freight of rich theological truth. The Getty’s mission in their creative composition of modern day hymns is to foster that same connection between spiritually compelling words and music that captures the imagination.

The aim of Sing is that believers would move toward a more robust singing life in our homes and in our churches; that we would “sing truth and sing it as though it is true.” By singing to one another, we affirm the truth and strengthen one another in our convictions. By singing to others, we invite them into the knowledge of the Truth in a way that’s winsome and challenging; and we inch our way toward bringing about the fulfillment of our own prayer:

” . . . on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

//

This book was provided by B&H Publishing Group in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

57 thoughts on “We Need to Talk About Singing”

  1. Dear Michele, how wise of you to have INTENTIONALLY taught your children hymns rich in meaning and fervor. They are my go to whether in praise or lament. I enjoy praise music but frequently feel regret that my kids won’t remember the “old songs”. Sadly, it never occurred to me that I could have been teaching them at home. Sing on, Sister and Company, sing on!

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    1. Thanks, Alice! We need the old as well as the new, and I’m especially seeing that this year as I teach Hark the Herald Angels Sing (verse by verse) to our Sunday School kids. So much good theology embedded in Wesley’s words!

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  2. I have always been inspired in worship by singing and in my latter years have sung in the choir which has further enriched the messages of my faith through song. I need to do more of it at home in between choir practice and Sunday worship. This sound like another terrific book, Michele.

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    1. This is a great time of year to talk about singing. Glad you’ve been able to sing in a choir. They are becoming a rare thing in churches — at least in the part of the world where I live. I love hearing my kids sing here in the house, and there’s a fair amount of goofing around that focuses on music here in this crazy house.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am saddened by the rarity of the church choir, Michele, and am a big fan of four part (or more) harmony. We have lost that with the popular praise bands, plus singing the same thing over and over for 30minutes doesn’t appeal to me either! I hope the church choir survives into the next generation.

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  3. Interesting, Michele! I can just imagine you and your family joining in one voice to sing of God’s praises while gathering for a meal. I’m sure it did seem a bit shocking to that young man, for most families that I know don’t make that part of their routine. But I love it! I guess that’s because I love to sing hymns and worship songs to the Lord. My hubby likes to listen to them, but isn’t music of a singer. Still, it is important to let our worship continue everywhere we go! Thanks for this review, my friend. And Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  4. I am part of a congregation where all our singing (and there is lots) is acapella and congregational. It matters when the youngest child and the oldest saint sing together. It matters when we know that ALL of us are joining the heavenly song!

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  5. Great review and love how you’ve incorporated singing hymns of praise into your family’s life!

    This Advent, my husband and I are teaching our small group about Christmas and Messianic prophecy through the lens of song – the Christmas hymns of yesteryear are SO rich in biblical truth, we’re using them as the basis of the Bible study we’re leading – and as we study the meaning of the verses line by line and correlate them back to Scripture and dig into the passages, it’s been a rich time of spiritual growth for us all!

    Have a very blessed Christmas season Michelle! 🙂

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    1. That’s so exciting! I’m doing something similar in our Sunday School opening, but with just one carol. If we slow down and look at the words of those familiar carols, we’ll never be the same again in our appreciation for all God did for us in the incarnation!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for sharing about this! I agree with everything here. One thing that we notice as we visit churches is whether the people are just “going through the motions” in their singing or whether it truly seems heartfelt. Music ministers to me in the deepest places.

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  7. Thanks for this great review and bringing this book to my attention, Michele. I love this testament to the worshipful power of singing! I know that songs have really helped me a great deal through the years, and, like you pointed out, it can be a way to transport the truth with us in our hearts wherever we go. Music has such power to touch us deep in our hearts and even our souls. I’ve encouraged Fear Warriors over at my blog to form a “fear warrior playlist” that they can listen to (or sing) in times of fear. It’s strong stuff! 🙂 Praise the Lord for the gift of music.

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  8. That is a hilarious family story, Michele. And you do read the most interesting books, friend! I love music and singing myself. Both old hymns and modern worship songs. I remember singing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” every single bingle Sunday for years after I became a believer. (And I loved it. Our pastor–mind you, not a worship leader–would lead us robustly after every message.)

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    1. For me it was “Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul” that was the every-Sunday congregational hymn. And I just resurrected it in teaching Psalm 103 to the kids in my present-day church. We certainly need repetition and ritual along with new and different.

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  9. Worship through singing is my favorite thing to do. Growing up in a traditional church gave me the opportunity to learn all the older hymns. It has given me a wonderful foundation. My sons have had some of the same foundation and they both love to lead worship now.

    I love how you fostered the singing of hymns in your home around the table. What a beautiful gift you have given your sons.

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  10. I loved reading this book earlier this year! Singing is so important, as is choosing good songs, because it’s the songs that stick with us. I couldn’t tell you much about most of the sermons I’ve heard even though I appreciated them at the time but I can remember every word to songs I haven’t sung for years!

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  11. This is a book I hope to read eventually. The Getty’s focus on worshipful and congregational singing as God talks about in His Word has been so helpful to me. Our family is attending their “concert” soon and so looking forward to joining in that chorus of praise! : ) Thanks for sharing, Michele!

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  12. This is such an interesting topic. So often at church I look around and see people standing, often men, lips shut tight during worship. Encouragement to sing praise to God is something we all need more of!

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    1. Yes, it is a command, and a joyful one. I do wonder if we’ve construed singing as “performance” and, thereby, gagged anyone who feels as if his/her voice is not “worthy.” Kind of an audio Pinterest anxiety.

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  13. I don’t sing well, but long ago someone once told me that didn’t matter. He said, “God gave you that voice and He deserves to hear it.” I’ve been belting out blessings and praise music ever since. But I always feel more comfortable with a full compliment of choir drowning out my sharps and flats! Blessings!

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    1. I agree! We’ve started having several people with mics up front to lead the singing, because most people sing with more freedom when they don’t feel conspicuous. So glad you’ve adopted the “belt it out” policy for your own singing life!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Michele,

    It’s a pleasure to meet you and I appreciated you stopping by my little blogging niche this morning. I love singing and I definitely do not have a performing voice but I know it doesn’t matter to God because the Bible tells us to make a joyful noise until the Lord. That’s what I do. 🙂

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  15. I love that you raised your family up to be singers and worshippers. Even though my voice isn’t wonderful, singing is the way I draw closest go God, and though I love a good choir from time to time, I much prefer being a part of the praising.
    I hope you are having a blessed Christmas season.
    Love & hugs to you Michele.
    Patti

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  16. Hey there Michele! I have not read this book yet BUT I did have the pleasure of attending the Getty Sing! Conference in Nashville back in September and heard so many rich speakers emphasize a lot of what you mentioned from the book. It was such a blessing to sing with so many strong male voices in that congregation. I share the sentiments of a comment above that sometimes the men are silent and that shouldn’t be so because God called us all to sing! Thanks for a lovely reminder from last fall 🙂 And may there be lots of singing in your house this Christmas! ♥

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  17. As a Christian, Music teacher and choral director I can certainly identify with the importance of singing as part of our daily praise and worship. Thank you for linking up this inspiring post for TFT!
    Amber at Follow The Yellow Brick Home

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  18. It’s such a shame that the church only tends to value and encourage singers who have ‘beautiful voices’… while I get it that performance singers need to be vocalists, praising God is encouraged for all people, regardless of talent. I love that your family sings around the dinner table! What a great idea!

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  19. Hi Michelle! I was so happy to see your review about this book! Alex and I had the pleasure of attending the Sing Conference in September as well. Our culture is certainly lacking in congregational singing and singing in the home. During one session at the conference they had a panel from different countries around the world. Their unanimous encouragement to Christians in the United States was to sing more, and sing boldly. A pastor from Africa shared that they sing when someone dies, when babies are born, when they work in the fields. They work singing into every day life. May we strive to do the same!!

    As I think about the upcoming Christmas season, what better gift to give the kids than to teach them to sing! They sing all the time anyways- what better way to instill truth into their hearts. We look forward to opportunities to sing old hymns and new that are rich with truth. The Getty’s new hymns are so wonderful! It was really a treat to sing those songs with so many believers in one place. It was certainly a taste of heaven.

    -Also Joni Erickson Tada was there and if hearing her speak doesn’t inspire someone to sing- I don’t know what would! She is a lady who is ready to sit and sing at the feet of Jesus!!

    Thank you for your sentiments on the book and your example of singing with your children. Young families need encouragement for bringing hymns into the home!

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. So happy that you guys went to the Sing Conference. I was recently listening to a podcast in which Keith was talking about it, and it sounded so great. I’m glad you are surrounded by a fellowship of believers who encourage that kind of enrichment experience for staff. It’s just so good to hear from you.
      And I’m enjoying singing with the grandboy in the car when we go places together, so here goes another generation!

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  20. I love to sing! We incorporate regular singing in our family worship. And it’s not just because my husband and I run the music ministry at our church. Worship is a very important way to communicate and interact with God. Glad to hear your family sings together as well.

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  21. As always, God’s commands are for our good and ultimately for His glory. Singing and making melody in our hearts is not just a suggestion. Sounds like the camp you went to had the right idea. What great training in the joy of the Lord and in who He is and who we are in Christ we get from great Christian songs and hymns! And, you’re right, that it makes it so much more memorable.

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  22. We used to sing a blessing before each meal at the summer camp I worked at for years as a teenager. What a beautiful (if a little shocking for visitors) tradition! I need a bucket to carry my tune around in, which makes corporate singing difficult for me (especially in small congregations where others can hear me ;)).

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  23. I actually got to go to a luncheon with Keith Getty as the speaker last weekend, and we got free copies of this book for attending! Then that evening, my oldest two daughters and I had the privilege of singing in the choir at Keith and Kristyn’s Christmas concert here in Arlington! It was an unforgettable weekend, and I’m so looking forward to reading this book because Keith’s words really resonated in my heart! Thanks for sharing at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com! Tweeted!
    Tina

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    1. What a great opportunity! I hope you’ll share your thoughts on the book once you have the opportunity to read it. I’ve passed my copy on to a friend who handles the music at our church. I know she’ll be blessed by it and encouraged in her hard work of faithfully pushing us to make music for the glory of God each week!

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