I have been singing since the fifth grade. I’ve been in audition-only honors choirs, taken voice lessons, sang in musicals, and even toured Ireland and Scotland with my college chorale.
And I have a confession. Sometimes, I don’t sing in church.
There is just something about singing in church that feels different than singing with a school choir. Hymns are different than choir arrangements. The tune is usually simple enough for a congregation to figure it out without hours of rehearsals and the old-English lyrics are sometimes confusing.
What is a bulwark (“A Mighty Fortress is Our God)? What is a buckler (“For We Are Strangers No More”)? Why are we raising our Ebenezer (Come Thy Font of Every Blessing) and are we talking about Ebenezer Scrooge, from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”?
These are questions that I have asked myself while singing hymns After doing some research, I did find out that a bulwark is a wall, a buckler is a shield, and Ebenezer was a rock that Samuel raised in the air saying that God had helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:12). Still, it is easy to get stuck on the confusing words and whisper to the person next to you, “Hey, what is a bulwark, anyway?”
But if we fail to sing in church, we are missing out on a major component of worship.
In a blog post titled, “Why You Need to Sing Loudly in Church,” composer Keith Getty writes that singing in church is on the decline (you may have heard of Getty, or at least know of his work. He wrote “In Christ Alone” with his wife, Kristyn). Christians come to church, pray in church and listen in church. And when it comes time to sing, some of us stand there awkwardly, mouthing the words, or busy ourselves getting a tissue out of our purse.
What is up with that?
Getty gives three main reasons why we need to stop this nonsense, and sing to our God.
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