Sing to One Another
Some of my earliest memories involve singing in church. I can still see my dad standing on the front row before he would get up to preach. He would bounce on his toes a bit while singing with a full voice and lifted eyebrows. I can still see my mom, perched in the choir loft with joy on her face. I remember older saints as they joined in the great hymns of our faith.
In short, congregational singing has played a formative role in my life both theologically and spiritually. The hymns we sang helped me both know and sing the truths we hold so dearly.
The Scriptures resound with singing. There are over fifty direct commands for us to sing, and singing is mentioned over 400 times in the Bible. Singing doesn’t merely play a one-dimensional function in the life of the church; it plays a multi-faceted, invaluable role as we worship God. It shapes our discipleship and our declaration to the world.
Psalm 96:1–3 functions as a microcosm that helps us see this clearly. It highlights three reasons why we sing.
1. We sing as an act of worship.
Singing, first and foremost, is an act of worship to God. Psalm 96:1–2a stresses the importance of God being the first audience of our song. “Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name.”
Notice the triple emphasis on the Lord. Don Carson defines worship as “the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, ascribing all honor and worth to their Creator-God precisely because he is worthy, delightfully so.” In this definition, we see a connection between blessing the Lord and singing. When Christians sing to God—whether alone, with our family, or at church—it’s an act of delightful worship.
2. We sing to disciple one another.
To use the language of Psalm 96:2, as we sing, we should “tell his salvation from day to day.” Notice the content of this song: the salvation of God.
The good news of the gospel builds us up, so we should sing to each other about it. That’s how we help one another grow as Christians. Paul communicates this idea in his letter to the Colossians: “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” (Col. 3:16). Paul highlights for us that singing is a means of disciple-making.
3. We sing as a declaration to the world.
Consider Psalm 96:3: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” The hymns we sing as a church should be saturated with the marvelous works of God. They’re little messengers of the truths we believe; we sing them to unconverted friends. Our act of singing is also a wonderful declaration to the world of our unity in Christ. John 13:35 says the world will know we are Christians by our love. So our act of congregational singing is itself an apologetic to an onlooking world of our shared salvation.
On this next Lord’s Day, I hope you will sing from the bottom of your heart with gratitude to the Lord as an act of worship. I pray that you will sing to your brothers and sisters in Christ as you lend your voice to building one another up as disciples. I pray that as we sing, the Lord would bring into our gatherings people to whom we can boldly declare the salvation of our God.