Growing up in YCKC, one of the more unforgettable experiences that I went through was singing with the children’s choir. It was a painful experience for me because I felt I was not blessed with a good voice, and, I did not even know if I was on key! Finally, when my voice cracked during puberty, what little confidence I had was totally smashed. I left the choir.
Even now, 20 years later, I am still not sure if I am tone deaf. I still cringe when I hear myself through the microphone, or over a recording. I know my voice is not as angelic-sounding as many others in the congregation. But should that stop me from singing? In my time of reflection, I have come to reckon the importance of singing to the Lord.
Singing from the heart; not just with our voice
Singing is one of many ways in which we offer worship to our Lord. We ought to be “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” (Eph 5:19). We sing as a response to the Lord for what He has done in our lives (i.e. Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15 and Deborah’s song in Judges 5). Ideally, it would be wonderful if we could sing every single word and mean it. However, there are times when it is difficult.
When facing lyrics such as “Take my will and make it Thine/It shall be no longer mine”, and we feel like we do not mean it, may I suggest we sing it as a prayer to God; asking God to change our hearts.
What this means is that it may be helpful for us to spend time reflecting on the lyrics of our worship songs; to know what it means to us so that we can truly sing it as a response to God.
Singing helps us to remember
It has been said, and most certainly true for me, that not many people would be able to remember the sermons of John Wesley, but if asked to quote a hymn from Charles Wesley, many would be able to sing it word for word. Such is the power of music and its ability to help people remember. In Deut 31, God instructed Moses to write a song and teach it to the Israelites so that “when great disasters come down on them, this song will stand as evidence against them, for it will never be forgotten by their descendants.” (v21a, NLT).
What are the implications in this case? It matters not only that we sing, but also what we sing. If a certain tune or song is on loop in our mind, we should be concerned about the theology of the song. Phil 4:8 (NLT) tells us to “Fix your thoughts on what is true….Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” We need to ensure theological accuracy in the songs we pass down.
Songs speak to the soul
Music has always been a part of human history, across all culture and languages. It is instrumental in bringing people together where words fail. Singing helps to unite the church together. It unites us in theology; it unites us as a body of Christ; it unites us in one voice.
Many of us, especially in a low season, can attest to being uplifted by the worship songs as we are reminded of God’s love, grace and promises. When we sing, we may also be ministering to those in need and to the pre-believers amongst us.
Sing with Me
Last week, the youth presented a worship dance. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on the lyrics of the familiar song, “How Great is Our God”. The first line of the chorus reads “How great is our God’. It is the writer’s personal realization and his response to the character of God as sung in the verses. And this is biblical; Psalms 105:1-2 says “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all his wondrous works!”
Then the writer calls others, and this time it is presumably to fellow believers to “sing with [Him], how great is our God”. This is a call to unite the church in one voice, declaring together the greatness of our king.
Finally, as a result of the church praising God in unison, it is our prayer that “all will see / How great, how great is our God”. Will you, regardless of your qualms, sing with me, “How great, how great is our God”?
By Samuel Lin, Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 2&3 April 2016)