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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

What Ought to We Sing? How you can Determine a Good Worship Music

What makes a very good congregational music?

I’ve wrestled with that query for many years, not solely as a songwriter however as a pastor in my native church. In fact, crowds sing collectively loudly in quite a lot of locations — faculty soccer video games, Taylor Swift live shows, faculty choirs, birthday events — however singing with the church is exclusive and sacred.

Why? The church is the physique of Christ, a temple being “constructed collectively right into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). We sing so the phrase of Christ would possibly dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16). And after we collect, our church isn’t alone. Our little choir of earthly voices joins with the choirs of heaven and “the meeting of the firstborn who’re enrolled in heaven” to extol the Lamb who was slain (Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 5:11–13).

So, for the church, singing issues. However what sorts of songs ought to we sing?

What Makes a Music Good?

What makes a congregational music “good”? We’re going to take a look at two traits briefly after which spend most of our time on the third.

First, a very good congregational music is one that folks really can sing. It’s not arduous to choose up as a result of the melody repeats or is simple to comply with. Songs that comprise sudden twists or jumps may be complicated. Likewise, individuals are likely to go quiet when a music’s vary exceeds the vocal skills of the typical human.

Second, a very good congregational music is one that folks need to sing. Individuals touch upon how a lot they take pleasure in it. The melody grows on you relatively than sounding drained by the top of the music. That’s why a theologically wealthy lyric can go unheard for many years, if not centuries, when it’s wed to the fallacious melody. The recognition of songs like “Wonderful Grace” and “Earlier than the Throne of God Above” skyrocketed after they discovered a melody individuals appreciated.

“Our songs ought to replicate the entire counsel of God’s phrase and make God’s priorities our personal.”

Third, and most significantly, a very good congregational music is one that folks ought to sing. Which means the lyrics are rooted in God’s phrase. However that raises some questions. Does quoting Bible verses make a very good congregational music? Ought to we solely sing the Psalms (and I do know some who would say, “In fact!”)? Ought to we set our systematic-theology textbooks to music? How a lot of the Bible do we have to embody to make a music biblical?

Who Decides What to Sing?

These questions matter as a result of the duty for selecting what songs to sing has more and more turn into a local-church difficulty. In years previous (and nonetheless amongst some church buildings immediately), denominational leaders sought to guard church buildings from heresy and lead them in biblically acceptable expressions of reward by publishing hymnals. The message was clear: “These are the songs we wish our church buildings to sing.” They have been curators of the church’s music eating regimen.

At present, the de facto curators are YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, conferences, and radio. We will nonetheless use hymnals, however we even have entry to extra songs than at another time in historical past. However I can affirm from private expertise, they aren’t all good. So, how will we decide if a music is biblical? And what makes a music unbiblical? That’s a query I posed on social media lately. After citing fallacious theology, many voiced widespread complaints like “too many first-person pronouns,” “an excessive amount of repetition,” and “too centered on emotion.” Others merely typed the identify of a music.

Although I don’t imagine God requires us to restrict our repertoire to the Psalms, they present us that he welcomes a large variety in our songs. They are often quick, lengthy, or someplace in between (Psalms 117; 119; 89). They will allow us to talk to God, others, or ourselves, typically in the identical psalm (Psalms 86; 100; 62:5–7; 42). Now we have psalms about God and about us (Psalms 145; 133). And in relation to first-person pronouns, Psalm 71 incorporates 58 of them in 24 verses. God gave us psalms that by no means repeat and others that say the identical factor 26 occasions (Psalms 2; 136). Some psalms explode with emotion, whereas others are extra doctrinal (Psalms 150; 111). They offer us phrases for rejoicing and reflecting (Psalms 47; 23). They inform us there’s a time to reward and a time to lament (Psalms 96; 38).

In different phrases, figuring out whether or not the phrases of a congregational music are biblical or not is a bit more nuanced than we might imagine.

What Makes a Music Unbiblical?

Let’s begin by what’s not biblical. An unbiblical congregational music may be outlined as one which doesn’t line up with the entire of God’s phrase in fact, tone, or emphasis.


If a music contradicts what Scripture teaches, we shouldn’t sing it. Lyrics that deny our want for substitutionary atonement, ascribe worship to somebody aside from the triune God, or dismiss the truth of everlasting punishment are heresy and don’t have any place within the church’s repertoire.

However lyrics may be unbiblical in additional delicate methods. They are often obscure, unclear, or simply misinterpreted. Generally, in an effort to be inventive and impacting, writers use phrases that distort and even contradict biblical fact. However Paul admonishes us to “let the phrase of Christ dwell in you richly” as we sing (Colossians 3:16). He additionally instructs us to ensure all the pieces we do in our conferences is intelligible (1 Corinthians 14:6–12). That features our music lyrics.

A music can also be unbiblical when it veers from or ignores Scripture’s classes, themes, matters, or goals. Whereas I’m in my automobile, there’s no downside singing about how pleased I’m with out giving any purpose. However when the church gathers, we’re meant to give attention to God’s glory in Christ, not merely how we really feel (2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6).


A second means a music may be unbiblical is in its tone. Whereas the Psalms didn’t include a soundtrack, they mannequin quite a lot of methods to specific ourselves in music. And in every case, the tone, or really feel, is linked to and pushed by the content material. Now we have no examples of unrestrained ardour disconnected from a transparent view of God’s works, phrase, and worthiness (Psalm 33). We by no means discover emotional repetition with out constant reminders of why we must be so affected (Psalm 136). Nor will we encounter language marked by sensuality or flippancy, however relatively by love, honesty, humility, reverence, awe, pleasure, sorrow for sin, gratefulness, and an ever-present want to know and comply with God’s methods.

The tone of the Psalms is a steadiness of doctrine and devotion, thoughts and coronary heart, edification and emotion. We aren’t meant to sacrifice one or the opposite. So, a biblical music is one which deliberately seeks to interact the affections by way of the realities of who God is, what he’s stated, and what he’s executed and is doing.


Emphasis affords a 3rd means we are able to consider the biblical faithfulness of a music. Our songs ought to replicate the entire counsel of God’s phrase and make God’s priorities our personal.

In fact, not each music will comprise an ideal steadiness of Scripture’s instructing on a subject, or all the pieces that may very well be stated. However some songs current a side of biblical fact in such a means that they undermine, distort, or reduce different biblical truths.

“If the one theology we obtained have been contained within the songs we sing, how nicely would we all know God after 5 years?”

As an illustration, singing that God goes to bless us or “give us the victory” with no point out of struggling, God’s sovereignty, or the advantages of endurance may be simply misunderstood and wrongly utilized. Different examples which may fall into this class embody songs that talk of God’s relentless love with no point out of Christ or the cross (Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16), lyrics that by no means say whom we’re singing to, or songs that give the impression that looking for to dwell holy lives doesn’t matter.

What Makes a Music Biblical?

Whereas not exhaustive, these are some marks of an unbiblical congregational music. However the extra essential query is, What makes a music biblical? Biblical songs not solely use precise Scripture however replicate Scripture’s priorities and classes. They offer us the chance to domesticate or specific scriptural affections. They’re clear, undistracting, and contribute to build up the unity of the church (1 Corinthians 14:12, 26; Ephesians 4:3).

Above all, biblical songs allow the phrase of Christ to dwell in individuals richly. They are often described as theologically pushed, relatively than merely theologically conscious. They take note of the Bible’s redemptive story that begins and ends in Christ. In that means, biblical congregational songs present music and lyrics that lead us towards conformity to Christ in our minds, hearts, and lives. They educate us, transfer us, and compel us to dwell in a fashion worthy of the gospel of grace within the energy of God’s Spirit.

Can each music we sing obtain these objectives? In all probability not. That’s why, if we wish to be biblical, we have to consider our music eating regimen as a complete. What our songs say over time is simply as essential as what they are saying individually. So, it’s useful to ask ourselves this query: If the one theology we obtained have been contained within the songs we sing, how nicely would we all know God after 5 years? Your reply will provide you with perception into how biblical your songs are.

Songs are only one a part of our gatherings, however God can use them to rework lives from one diploma of glory to a different, till we see him nose to nose. Let’s take advantage of the chance.

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