By: Idehen Osagiede
- Concept of congregational singing
- Ancient versus Modern; the paradox
- What does congregational singing do for us?
- So, why don’t we sing?
- Let’s make it better
- Final thoughts
Those who wish to sing, always find a song; those who wish to sing well, take time to practice the song.
Definition of Terms
- To utter words in musical tones and with musical inflections and modulations.
- An assembly of persons meeting for worship and religious instruction. (Mariam Webster Dictionary)
Components of good congregational singing
- (Acts. 16:25)
- Encouragement (Eph. 5:19)
- Understanding (1 Cor. 14:15)
- Admonition (Col. 3:16)
- Harmony (Eph. 5:19)
- Unity (Heb. 13:15)
Ancient vs. Modern (the paradox)
- At best, larger churches have shifted to more professional, performance-oriented music.
- Smaller churches have adopted less of the traditional “come one, come all” since because it feels outdated, irrelevant, and at times downright embarrassing. Who can compete with the masters, after all?
Benefits of congregational singing
Congregational singing is far from dead, mainly because it’s connected to a source of life higher than cultural trends or modern comparisons.
In singing, we go personal with God
- We cannot rise above the world’s difficulties until we turn our eyes to the one higher than ourselves.
- In worship, what’s personal engages with what’s eternal. We lift our eyes to what’s higher, and find relief. Ultimately, our minds are renewed as we remind ourselves of God’s mercy and offer our bodies as living sacrifices to him ( 12:1–2).
A sense of community
- When we sing we’re reminding each other eternal truths and therefore forging a lasting spiritual bond between us. We’re not merely singing to God; we’re singing to one another. (Eph. 5:19)
- From those who visit our churches, to our children who’ve yet to believe, to people who hear our voices from the sidewalk—when we sing together of the grace of our Savior, it’s a powerful witness. ( 16:25)
Singing Unifies the Congregation
- At the dedication of the second temple as recorded in 2 Chronicles 5:13, the Bible tells us, “The trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound.”
- Robert Shaw, the greatest choral conductor of the twentieth century, said, “That’s the point of a choir or a congregation, doing the same thing together at the same time.”
We Praise God Bigger and Better
- 2 Chronicles 5:13 goes on to say, “To be heard in praising and thanking the Lord.”
- One of the best ways for a congregation to reach God is singing heartily together (Matthew 12:34).
- Proverbs 29:6 unequivocally says, “The righteous doth sing and rejoice.”
In Singing, We Praise Together
- Think of the marvelous blessing that can come to a congregation as the people with one voice sing a song like “Nearer, Still Nearer,” “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart,” or even “The Lord’s my shepherd”. Any good hymn book will have many songs that can unite a congregation in prayer. ( 4:24-30)
- He who sings, prays twice.
Teaching Reinforces Spiritual Truths
- Colossians 3:16
- To quote Robert Shaw again, “The basic premise of music is communication… expressible best by music or possibly even only by music.”
- This is also the main reason we should be certain our congregational songs are doctrinally correct.
Singing Midwifes Revivals
- Psalm 85 is titled “To the chief Musician,” and verse 6 says, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?”
- Henry Halley’s Bible Handbook admonishes its readers: “Under proper leadership, the hymns of a vast congregation could be made to rise like the swell of an ocean’s roar, and cause angels in Heaven to lean over and listen.”
Put in Proper Perspective…
- Who sings? Everyone. ( 5:19, Col. 3:16)
- What do we sing? Glory to God and encouragement to one another. ( 4:8-11, Ps. 96, Col. 3:15-16)
- Where do we sing? In corporate worship and everywhere permissible. ( 16:25
- How do we sing? With melody and grace. (col. 3:16)
Singing with understanding
- Luther said he gave the German people the Bible and the hymn book in their own tongue, “So that God might speak directly to them in His Word, and that they might directly answer Him in their songs.” 1 Cor. 14:15
Singing sets the tone for…
- Each item of worship
- Each starting day
- Making lasting memories
- Special moments
- Relieving stress, releasing the anointing.
Mandatory preparation for song leaders
- You are leading God’s people in an important task. You should seek His leading to be effective.
- Ask for confidence to stand before God and His people
- Ask for a great atmosphere/grace to worship fervently
- Ask for…
- The devil’s favorite section of the church is the choir!
- If you can’t connect to God, how can you connect others? (Eph. 5:18)
- How do ministers dress here?
- Nonverbal communication can be louder than your voice.
Prepare early and be punctual.
- Why should the God and the church be waiting for you? (Acts. 5:7)
- Use prompters. This is no jamboree!
- Leading is a privilege. Treat it as such.
Get the right songs.
- Is your song scriptural/ spiritual/ meaningful? (Jn. 17:17)
- Is your song melodious? (Eph.5:19)
- Is your song well known (first by you)?
- Is your song on the slide or hymn book?
- Be sensitive. Every moment has a song.
- Local content is essential.
A few extras
- No showing off. This is worship not a concert.
- Be disciplined. Keep to time.
- Obey the rules set by the church, if any.
- Carry yourself well. Composure is key.
- Carry everyone along.
- Pitch well, conduct if you must, motivate the crowd.
The Church that wants to please God in singing…
Takes singing seriously
- Are your hymn books in good shape?
- Do you update your song bank?
- Does this church prioritize singing and teachings on it?
- Does this church have a plan on how many songs she’d learn this year?
- What’s your attitude to singing generally?
- What’s the attendance in your song classes?
- How much time is allocated to singing in every church service?
- How many songs do you know how to sing well?
- How many members participate in the singing sessions maximally?
Sees Singing as a ministry. (Rom. 12:6-8)
- Who do you pick to lead songs? Song leading is not for rookies!
- Do you have a committee/ ministry for singing? “The snowball effect”.
- Do you encourage personal development in your song ministers?
- A few extras (hindrances)…
- A lack of understanding.
- A lack of zeal. 3:16
- Infightings in the congregation. Amos.3:3
- Spiritual death (dead men don’t sing). 7:32, Isa. 38:18, Ps. 88:10
- Great singing is a mark of a Church that understands the mind of God.
- Congregational singing is a “sweet” command, yet not less important than any other known.
- God cares how we sing to praise Him, so should we.