So you don’t feel like singing
Welcome to some of my thoughts I’ve been mulling over for a while.
Easter has come and gone, and what a difference a year makes. For the last 2 years I’ve spent the few days before Easter in Wales at a Christian conference called Word Alive. This year it was cancelled and some of the pre-recorded talks and meetings went online for anyone to watch. It was a blessing that we were still able to partake in our worship via online methods. And how true that has been over the last 3 weeks as churches, house groups and prayer cells have moved to online. On our 1st Sunday of doing church from home, we brought our TV up to the bedroom to watch the service from the comfort of our bed, and as the weather was glorious we opened the windows and sang along to the sung worship. I think the neighbours appreciated it! . One of the things I miss the most is not being together singing praises to our God. There’s a great power in raising your voice in prayer and praise together. So this blog is just a short snapshot of how I’ve combatted that.
In 2019 Spotify says I listened to 4,429 songs… Let’s be real and say like 100 of those songs were maybe on repeat, while the rest are probably random. I enjoy music. I played Mary in the school nativity musical when I was 7 or so and sang in school choirs when we competed in the N.I. School Choir of the year (I’ve no idea if that is still a thing.) I joined the Voices of Praise choir when I was 16 and now I’m married to a music teacher. I asked for a Glockenspiel for Christmas and I bought an acoustic guitar just before lockdown began. Supposedly I’m using this time in lockdown to learn how to play both of them. Maybe I’ll put up a video at some point and you can judge it for yourself. Some of you may know that we have some Echo dots placed around our house (Go Amazon for having a sale for prime members just after our wedding!) so music is usually playing in the background. For the most part I would say 90% of the music I listen to is either Christian music or from a musical.
Music is a big part of my life; the title to my extended essay in my final year of university was, “Show me a church’s hymns and I’ll show you their theology” (G. Fee) Critical perspectives on “In Christ Alone”. I thoroughly enjoyed reading up on hymns and how musical worship has evolved over the years until we reach modern day worship songs. Jesus and his disciples sang hymns. Take another look at the great passages on the Last Supper are found in Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 and see what happened after they had eaten! What kind of hymn would they have sung? Most likely it would have been the Passover Psalms taken from Psalm 113-118. Feel free to go now and read up on those Psalms.
There are songs of praise mentioned in the Bible either sung by the Israelites or various gatherings or sung by individuals. I’m currently reading Prayer by Tim Keller where he takes some time to expound what Augustine, Luther and Calvin have said on the matter of the Lord’s Prayer, and even before we begin we’re reminded that we can call God our Father by what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. So many great hymns and worship songs draw us back to that realisation that we are a Child of God and we are loved by him. (My current favourite reminding me of this truth is ‘Yet not I but through Christ in me’ by CityAlight.) Singing the gospel changes hearts. What you’re singing shapes your heart, your mind and soul. In Revelation 15.3 we’re told that in Heaven they’re singing the song of Moses, but we will also be singing the new song in Revelation 14.3. I’ve often wondered what songs are on Heaven’s playlist. Pretty incredible. We can sing songs that lift our hearts and eyes to eternity, that remind us that life is more than the here and now. But what of times of sadness? It’s not a biblical view to only sing songs to God when we’re happy. On the contrary, songs of lament come with tears in our eyes all too often. We have the freedom to weep to God and pour out our souls before him and by doing so be reminded that He is still on the throne and sovereign; God is with us in our weeping. (My current favourite reminding me of this truth is, ‘Weep with me’ by Rend Collective.)
So why do I have so much Christian music on in my home? I believe it changes the atmosphere. It brings peace. To have praises flowing through your home is a constant reminder of the Gospel. I cannot attest to this more. Even to have praise music on when I don’t feel like praising is the best thing to do; it softens my heart and draws me into a place of worship. Luther once said of music, ‘Music is a gift from and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful.’ You see the songs that we normally sing on Sunday turn into the truths we take into Monday and become our soundtrack for the week. Spotify have a wonderful playlist called ‘Sang on Sunday: UK’ where they’ve teamed up with CCLI to bring us the top 50 tracks that were sung up and down the nation last Sunday. What I listen to and sing penetrates my thoughts and makes its way into my prayers. I find myself thanking God for those truths. I realise that I’m not the only one that is missing the singing as a congregation. I have grown up going to church being ready to sing. Maybe you’re missing this too. There’s a link below to one of my latest playlists on Spotify for my current favourite worship songs.