If you walk into almost any protestant church on a Sunday morning, anywhere around the world, you will probably find some form of congregational singing.
What a strange phenomenon.
Why do we do it? It can be kind of awkward. Communal singing isn’t very common in other parts of life. We seem to devote a lot of Sunday morning time and resources to singing. Is it really worth it?
Let me outline four reasons why I think it is worth it:
1. Singing is prayer
The songs we sing at church are just prayers set to music. In fact, that’s exactly what the Psalms were. Prayer is the directing of our attention to God. When we sing, we are engaging in a form of communal prayer.
“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts” (Psalm 105:2).
2. Singing is community
Every known culture, from the great empires of history, to the most remote tribes, has some form of music. Singing is a human phenomenon. It’s a weird, mystical thing that is seemingly essential to the human experience. What we know of music is that is used to bind the tribe. It’s a way of saying we belong together because we sing the same song.
“God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land” (Psalm 68:6).
3. Singing is teaching
Chances are that your theology is formed way more by the songs you’ve sung over and over again than the sermons you’ve heard. Songs go with us. They get into our muscle memory. For better or worse, songs may be the primary mode of teaching in the modern Christian church.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16)
4. Singing is healing
According to the research of Dr Daisy Fancourt, singing is known to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), decrease inflammation in the immune system, and reduce chronic pain. Pretty cool, hey?
“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live” (Psalm 104:33).