16 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. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17
I am not musically inclined at all. I can’t sing, play an instrument, or even read music. I’m a wordy book girl. I love to dig into the Bible, read old sermons online, listen to podcasts. But there is something about music that stirs my soul, especially in a worship setting, like nothing else.
I used to think of music in a church setting as a kind of add-on thing to the main thing. Something to warm people up and kill time waiting for latecomers to arrive, or a transition between the "real" stuff. I’m not sure when, but a shift occurred where I realized worship was an integral part of a Christian community coming together (I’m a slow learner!). The music isn’t for us as the recipient. God is the recipient…it is an act of worshiping God. We sing to Him. We lift our voices in unison – as a united people – in praise to God. It gets our soul in sync with Him in preparation to study His holy Word. And we end service in response to the study of the Word, again praising and thanking Him.
Think about it…some people love to read, some hate it. Some people love to write, some hate it. Some people like to speak in front of crowds, some hate it. But everyone loves music. Not necessarily the same kind of music, but everyone likes music. In God’s creativity and love of order, God created music. Melodies and rhythms with endless combinations to tell stories, remember God’s Word, praise God. And God sings over us…
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
When I focus on the lyrics, so often I am moved to tears as I join in worship at church. And to glance over and see someone with their eyes closed, hands up, clearly moved by worship just gets me. I actually used to pray that I wouldn’t cry because I was embarrassed what those around me would think. A friend once told me she thought it was the holy spirit’s presence that brought her to tears. I like that thought. Our reaction to worship is a result of the spirit of God showing Himself and moving in and around us as we come together in joint worship. It is a beautiful thing to be in active worship to our God. Now when I am overcome by emotion in response to worship, it causes me to pause and thank God for revealing Himself to me in such a special, personal way. I feel like God is close and I can’t help but express gratitude to Him.
King David, of whom God called a man after His own heart, is constantly singing, playing instruments, worshiping. In fact, when his predecessor Saul was still king, David was summoned to play music for him.
And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him. 1 Samuel 16:23
Or how about that one time when Paul and Silas were in prison…
25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. Acts 16:25-26
At midnight, in prison, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. And the jailer watching guard over them was converted and baptized following this miraculous event in response to the prayers and worship of these two men.
I think there is more power in music, especially hymns and worship music, than we normally give thought to.
Music also helps commit things to memory. In Biblical times there wasn’t a wide range of written documents available. Instead, God’s Word was passed along from person to person, family to family. Words were set to song to help people remember them. There is something about putting words to music that make them so much more memorable.
Through hymns and worship music, God’s Word is set to melodies that help teach and admonish us in wisdom. We get to join corporately with one voice in united worship. And we do it all in the name of Jesus, with thankful hearts.
Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Psalm 96:1-2
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. Psalm 104:33
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!