When I was studying at Avondale University, I was lucky enough to stay in Watson Hall. I still have so many close friends and great memories from that time. One in particular is from when a friend who doesn’t come from a Christian background came to stay in the dorms for a weekend.
He seemed to enjoy his weekend there and afterwards, I asked him what he thought of the experience. He told me it was good, but his biggest question was “why do Christians sing so much?” I laughed as he explained to me there was always singing. I hadn’t thought about it but as I reflected, he was right. The guys were always singing! In people’s rooms with a guitar, in the showers, walking down the hall, at church, to start Bible studies, in the foyer with the piano. There was always someone singing, and I’d never noticed because I’m so accustomed to it.
The past two years have drawn my attention to how much I love our tradition of singing together. During lockdowns, many of our churches were unable to meet together, or if we could meet together, we couldn’t sing because of the risk of spreading the virus.
I’m grateful to be in a position where we can sing as a community again and I never want to take this for granted. So, I thought I’d answer the question, why do we as Christians sing so much? Here are four reasons:
1. It’s tradition
Christianity is born out of Judaism. In both religions, there is a rich history and tradition of group singing. In the biblical story of the Israelites being liberated from Egypt, Miriam’s victory song (Exodus 15:1-19) is estimated to have been written and sung as a congregation as early as the fifteenth century BC. So we have thousands of years of singing together and a beautiful history of songs to draw upon. I can’t wait until we’re in heaven and able to sing the greatest worship songs from all time and all languages as one huge congregation.
2. It’s good for you
Singing has been shown to relieve stress, improve immune response, speaking skills and lung function and even reduce snoring! As a Church that preaches a health message, no wonder we love singing so much! There are other positive effects it can have on our health which you can check out here.
3. It bonds us together as a community
At the footy, when the crowd start cheering their team’s anthem together in one loud and messy voice, something special happens. They’re unified in their support and love for one thing. Their team. When we all gather and sing about something together, it unifies us around that thing. The most important thing we can sing about is Jesus and when we sing together it binds us as a community around Him as His church. People find belonging in the songs.
This is exactly why Paul urged the church at Colossae to “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).
4. It gives us a chance to refocus on what matters
The words of songs matter and they stick in our minds more easily than spoken or written words. When we sing powerful songs together, it gives us an opportunity to focus again on the powerful words of these songs. It also helps us learn truths about God in a different way. I learned so much about God and His character through the songs we sing in church and the words of the songs stick with me.
There are plenty of other reasons to sing together as congregations and I’d love to hear yours too! Whether you are singing hymns, scripture songs, choir songs, kids’ worship songs, modern worship songs, anything else or a mix, let’s be grateful to be able to sing to our God who is most worthy of all the praise we could ever give Him and more.
“Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise”
Joshua Stothers is associate pastor and chaplain at Castle Hill church and Hills Adventist College, Sydney, NSW.