Reflecting on the song, "Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)"
Featuring Brian Doerksen Posted on April 3, 2010
Why do the people of God sing? Think about that for a moment. Singing is one of the peculiarly wonderful marks of the people of God around the world and throughout history.
Maybe in the modern age the question should be, “Why don’t we sing anymore?” For the most part, people of the world have moved from singing to listening to other people sing for them. Think about how many viewers watch shows like American Idol, which is all built on evaluating and listening to other people sing. Our world loves to be entertained by singers, and I am astounded by how much fame and fortune we give people who can sing well.
The lost joy of singing is likely one of the downsides of the modern age of technology and electricity. In the past, if people wanted music, they actually had to gather around the piano and sing. Either they had to produce the music themselves, or they had to be physically present at a concert to hear the latest songs.
So for us as the family of God, singing is one of the things we need to cherish and continue to encourage as we gather. I have heard people criticize the modern worship movement—that instead of singing our songs of faith, our services and gatherings are becoming too much like rock concerts. As someone who enjoys and even plays rock music in the broadest sense of the term, I actually concur with that criticism at times. The attention can get way too focused on the band. The volume can get too high, to the point where you can’t hear yourself sing.
One of the things we have done at our local church is meet in the round; the congregation faces each other in four sections like a diamond, and the band stands off to one end while the speaker is on the other end. The physical setup really helps underline that the gathering of our local church is not a concert. People gather to fellowship with each other and worship God. Being in the round actually helps people hear each other sing, and I encourage our sound team to keep the overall amplified sound at a medium level so people can still hear themselves and other people around them singing.
When I go out with my band to other places and do one of my worship concerts, I always try to have a good portion of the time where people are simply singing along with us. The sound is full (it needs to be to have energy!) but not overbearing. And usually the highlights of those events are when the band really dials down and we can clearly hear everyone singing a song that they love together.
Belonging to the family of God means that we belong to a singing family! That’s what we do when we gather together!
We do it because we love singing—but most of all we do it because we love God, and it just seems like one of the most powerful ways to express it. And as we sing, we sense God’s presence and pleasure.
He loves hearing His people sing.
The human ability to sing is actually part of what makes us distinctly unique in all of creation. We are designed with vocal chords that can be developed and trained to carry a tune. We can sing! What a gift!
At a recent worship conference we were having a roundtable discussion of new trends in worship, and people were describing all kinds of funky and creative ways to express their worship. They suggested a mixture of ancient things and new hybrids of creative expression. At one point I raised my hand and added my little contribution: “I can almost guarantee that in the future, one of the main ways we will express worship will be”—people leaned forward to hear the profound thing I was going to say (okay, that part was just in my imagination)—“in the future we will express worship by singing songs.” There was silence … and then a kind of relieved sense of “Yes, that’s right.” In our quest to be trendy and creative, we can miss some of the most important things because they are so obvious!
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