Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!
Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
before the Lord.
A little about singing.
In those verses, “sing” is mentioned 6 times and “joy” is referenced 4 times. As we know, when things are repeated in the Bible, we should probably pay attention.
God commands us to sing, as even He sings over His people (Zephaniah 3:17). If we are to be like Him, singing should be a natural response. However, in our human condition, singing is an action that can be separated from the condition of our heart; A joyful noise is different – it is a reflection of our heart. Our musical talent (or lack thereof), our comfort, and even our song preference cannot quench a joyful noise. A joyful noise can be made in any circumstance – a season of blessings or a season of sorrow – because joy is not dependent on our feelings, it is dependent on the finished work of Jesus. A joyful noise is our response to what is already done. Therefore, joy should be evident in our singing.
With that established, why do we sing together?
Imagine you’re at a concert of a major hit band. For example, my family went to see the Eagles last year. Guaranteed everyone knows at least one lyric to one of their songs. Picture the band coming out on stage, the first chord is played and the arena becomes alive with lights, sounds, and voices. You quickly realize the stranger to your left and right are singing the same words you are. What do you feel? Unified and excited – an atmosphere has changed. You don’t even know these people, but you’re all having a great time because you all know and love this band and song.
Unified voices are powerful, exciting, loud, and effective. An atmosphere changes when the Holy Spirit is present and we, God’s people, are singing together. We’re proclaiming the gospel, together. We’re lifting Jesus high, together. You’re making a statement to the people on your left and your right that you know and love the One we are singing to. Singing in unity encourages the entire body. Singing over one another is commanded.
Ephesians 5:19-20 says, “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.”
Colossians 3:16 says, “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.”
Being committed to vertically focused, theologically rich songs here at Community Bible means we are also committed a congregation fully engaged and singing the Word over one another. Your singing is encouraging someone near you in a season of struggle. Your singing is reminding someone the truth of the Gospel. Your singing is a testimony in your own struggle that you can still make a joyful noise in sorrow.
So, how do we prepare to sing together at Community Bible?
Within the parameters of vertically focused, theologically accurate songs, we plan our worship each week to thematically lead us to response. Thematic planning gives us an entire morning to lean in to a specific aspect of who God is or a Truth He is trying to teach us. Each sermon series is planned out in advance and song selections are made based on the passage of Scripture we’re going to be studying. For example, our worship story two weeks ago looked something like this:
All the Earth sings of creation who was made to praise our Creator. Recognition of our sin that separated us from our Creator lead us to repentance and Jesus Thank You. Because of Christ’s sacrifice reconciling us to the Father, we are secure in our identity (Who You Say I Am). This set our hearts on a path of full focus on our lives hidden in Christ. Aaron preached on Obedience and in order to fully surrender our lives in obedience to Christ, we must let all worldly things Fade Away.
We don’t pick songs at random or just because they’re popular. They’re prayerfully considered and planned in advance because we want to steward the time we have together well. We want to sing as we are commanded, not only growing in our own relationship with Jesus, but growing in unity as we make a joyful noise, together.