“To sing is written into our human DNA; it is part of God’s design.”
(Keith and Kristyn Getty)
I don’t know about you, but singing has always been an important part of my life. I was brought up with music all around me- from pop music on the radio to songs from musicals which my dad would play on the piano. I spent much of my childhood in the local theatre, singing in the pantomime chorus or watching rehearsals and performances. If I wasn’t doing that, I was watching my two favourite films- Mary Poppins and The Sound Of Music- over and over, singing along of course. Then there was singing practice at school and songs in assemblies and productions. Wherever I went, music was always there.
Singing has always been a significant part of my Christian life too. Jesus Loves Me, With Jesus In The Boat, I Cast All My Cares Upon You… years later I can still remember every word of the songs I learned as a child.
Taking part in musical productions- either singing or playing- remain some of my most significant memories of growth in faith, and there are songs that take me back instantly to certain points in my life and remind me of how God was working.
It’s hard to imagine life without singing, but for me it is something that has always been there rather than something I have carefully considered so I was pleased to discover a new book by Keith and Kristyn Getty entitled “Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family And Church” in which they look at the topic of singing and why it is so important on a personal level as well as corporately in a family setting and in church.
Keith and Kristyn Getty are among the best-known hymn writers of the 21st century with songs such as In Christ Alone, Come People Of The Risen King and O Church Arise so I was sure they would have worthwhile insights on the topic and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
The book has five key aims:
• to discover why we sing and the overwhelming joy and holy privilege that comes with singing
• to consider how singing impacts our hearts and minds and all of our lives
• to cultivate a culture of family singing in our daily home life
• to equip our churches for wholeheartedly singing to the Lord and one another as an expression of unity
• to inspire us to see congregational singing as a radical witness to the world
There are several helpful thoughts presented both on the biblical basis for singing and on the practicalities of singing today. I had many highlights, but here are a few:
For those who worry that they can’t sing or that their voices are not good enough: “To their parents’ ears, each voice is not only as important as the others, but it is as treasured as the others. Your heavenly Father cares whether and what you sing, but He does not mind how well you sing.”
On the value of singing in church: “When we sing, we show the community that reflects our Creator, our triune God. When His Church sings together, voice upon voice like arms linked across a room…we are doing what we were designed to enjoy- using our God-given voices to sing praises together to the One who gave us those voices. It expresses what united us, and it reminds us of our interdependence.”
How singing songs of worship on a Sunday can impact our lives throughout the week: “Singing files away the messages the lyrics convey in our minds and hearts…Singing deep songs of the Lord keeps the right voice loudest in our ears.”
There are also helpful thoughts on engaging millennials with music in church services through focussing on creativity, communication and community, and on engaging seekers in a church service by choosing music that presents the Gospel in a way that touches their hearts and minds.
Then there is the slightly disturbing story of a non-Christian who, after attending church and watching the lacklustre way the believers present engaged in worship, questioned whether they actually believed what they were singing was true!
Each chapter of the book contains questions for reflection or discussion and there is the suggestion that it is used in church small groups to help each member of the congregation engage with discussion around the importance of singing. There are also “bonus tracks” at the end with more specific advice for those with particular responsibility for sung worship: pastors and elders, worship leaders, musicians and choir and production team members, and songwriters.
There is so much useful information that I know it will be a book I refer back to, and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to gain a greater understanding of the value of singing in the Christian life, but especially to those who are involved in leading the musical life of a church.
I’m grateful to B&H Publishing Group and Netgalley for access to an advance digital copy of this book. I only share books here that I believe will genuinely be beneficial to my readers.
Last October I took part in a blogging challenge with Write 31 Days and wrote a series entitled “31 Days Of Songs And Stories” in which I, and several guest bloggers shared stories of songs that God had used to impact us. If you would like to read more, you can find the index page for the series here.
I plan to take part in Write 31 Days again this year, and I will be announcing in Monday’s post what the topic for this year is going to be, so I’d love if you’d join me then and throughout the month of October.