I regret that I have written several posts explaining why I am opposed to the use of mechanical instruments in worship, but I have never written a positive post, simply explaining why I believe in congregational a cappella singing. So in this post, I would like to explain – in purely positive terms – why I believe in congregational a cappella singing.
Sadly, we usually only focus on two passages of Scripture when we talk about singing (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). But the New Testament is actually full of references to singing. So there are probably more reasons than these, but here are five reasons I believe in congregational a cappella singing:
1. Because Jesus Sang with His Apostles
Both Matthew and Mark record that on the night Jesus was betrayed, He and the apostles sang a hymn before going out to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26). I would love to have been present at that moment. I would love to have heard the words my Savior sang with His closest earthly friends on that fateful night.
When we sing, we follow in the footsteps of our Lord, who praised God while marching to His own death.
2. Because Paul Sang with Silas in Prison
In Acts 16, we read that Paul and Silas were beaten severely with rods and thrown into a Philippian prison cell. They had untreated wounds that had to have been emitting agonizing pain. On top of that, their feet were fastened in stocks. But despite all they had been through that day, they were “singing hymns to God” late into the night.
When we sing, we imitate the practice of first-century Christians, who sang songs of victory even in the midst of unimaginable persecution.
3. Because It Comes from the Overflow of Our Happiness
Obviously, music has the ability to make us happy and stir our emotions. But the New Testament seems to indicate that Christian music is supposed to be the result of our happiness, not the cause of it. Our happiness is caused by God and we sing as a result. James wrote, “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise” (James 5:13). We do not make music in order to cheer our souls. We make music because our souls are cheered by the Good News of Jesus Christ.
When we sing, we praise God with the song He has put into our hearts.
4. Because the Words of our Songs Teach and Edify the Church
The emphasis of Christian singing is on the words, not on the melody. These words build up Christ’s church. Paul wrote, “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” (Colossians 3:16). Christian singing not only praises the Lord, but it also teaches and admonishes the church.
When we sing, we drive important theological truths deep into our hearts.
5. Because Singing Words of Gratitude Pleases the Lord
God is pleased when we express our gratitude to Him with our words. The Hebrew writer says He is pleased with, “a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, saying, “…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18b-20). God loves to hear His saints sing, “Thank you, Lord!”
When we sing, we please the Lord by expressing our gratitude to Him with the fruit of our lips.
For over a thousand years, those who named the name of Christ understood the importance of congregational a cappella singing and rarely dreamed of doing anything different. But today, in many congregations, singing is being replaced or supplemented by the performances of solo singers, choirs, praise teams, bands, and orchestras. And even in congregations where there are no “performers,” many members still do not sing. They sit quietly during the song service or they mouth the words while their minds wander aimlessly.
It is truly a shame when Christians no longer regard singing as an important part of our worship to God. Singing is such a blessing to the church, and it ought to be regarded as a blessing. If we showed more appreciation for the biblical richness of congregational singing, maybe there would be more participation and less people would feel a need to supplement it or replace it with something else.
I love you and God loves you,