Singing Can Help Us Express Our Unity

Singing Can Help Us Express Our Unity

People sing together in the strangest places. At sporting events, fans sing enthusiastically about their desire to crush the opponent. People sing at New Year’s Eve parties, Christmas time, rock concerts, weddings, and even funerals. When eating out we often have to endure well-meaning but musically challenged servers in restaurants attempt to sing some form of “Happy Birthday” to an embarrassed individual. I always ask myself, “Why do we do this?” It’s not as though anyone thinks this is enjoyable. Do they?

While these events aren’t equally significant, something similar is happening. Our singing tends to bind us together. It’s more effective than simply reciting or shouting words in unison. Singing enables us to spend extended periods of time communicating the same thoughts, the same passions, and the same intentions. That process can actually have a physical effect on our bodies. Scientists have found that singing corporately produces a chemical change in our bodies that contributes to a sense of bonding.

When it comes to the church, this characteristic of singing has significant implications, all of which require great wisdom and discernment. To be clear, Scripture doesn’t talk only about congregational singing. God is honored when we sing alone, when a musically gifted individual leads out in a solo, when a choir sings, or when different segments of a church sing to one another, taking turns. The Bible isn’t specific about exactly who sings when.

But the predominant emphasis of Scripture is believers confessing their common beliefs together. The book of Revelation doesn’t give the impression that Jesus died for independent soloists, people who would sing on their own clouds or in different sections of the renewed earth by themselves. He died to redeem a universal choir.

That means every voice in the church matters. We’re not called simply to listen to others sing — as we are prone to do increasingly in our iPod, Internet-downloading culture — or to sing by ourselves. We are called to sing with others, especially in the context of our local church. The question isn’t, Do you have a voice? The question is, Do you have a song? If you’ve turned from your sins and trusted in Christ, if you’re forgiven and reconciled to God, then you have a song. It’s a song of the redeemed, of those who have been rescued from the righteous wrath of God through the cross of Jesus Christ and are now called his friends. Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God, and our singing together, every voice contributing, is one way we express that truth.