Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 22, 1970

To Sing - How?

Dennis Jones

It seems to be almost unquestioned among members of the Church of Christ that we are all to participate in congregational singing. We find admonitions to sing in such passages as Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. But although we agree that we should sing, we often differ as to the amount of effort and enthusiasm that we should generate.

It has been said that a quarter note may be held anywhere from one to twenty seconds. Too often, I'm afraid, we tend more toward the latter than a more enlightened approach. The amount of time devoted to a quarter note, or fraction thereof, should be determined by the context of the song as well as the composer's directions, if any. Of course, it is sometimes good to vary the tempo and dynamics of any given song.

When we sing songs about the Lord and his teachings, we should, of course, put forth our best efforts. But this is not always the case. Why? Perhaps it is because we become so accustomed to singing these songs that, if we are not careful, we tend to mouth the words passively as if partly for this reason that "Love Lifted Me" was on one occasion sung too slowly and without the enthusiasm the song-leader felt that it should have had. After the song, he said that it did not seem as if love had lifted us very far.

Because we do not wish to be found wanting in the sight of God, let us therefore sing with feeling, true faith, and knowledge, "making melody in your hearts unto the Lord."


Aside from the carelessness we sometimes exhibit in our singing, it would be well for us to consider the amount of time that we devote to the singing service. Although we say that no part of the worship services is any more important than any other part, we seem to repudiate this statement by our actions. If the services "run too long," we are supposed to "cut out" a song or two so that we will not be late for dinner. If the sermon lasts longer than is expected, then we are supposed to omit the final selection. Should this necessarily be the case?


I do not think that we make nearly as full a use of songs as we could. For instance, it might be to our advantage, to our upbuilding, to use a song for a prayer more often than we do or to emphasize a point made by the speaker (during the sermon itself). Admittedly, though, this could be overdone and very easily become a ritualistic tradition.


We know that all things are to be done decently and in order, but if this includes organization, then I am afraid that we are in trouble. There are, for example, many times when those who lead singing begin selecting the songs shortly before or only seconds before time for the services to begin. This is most unfortunate, though certainly it is not always avoidable. But it goes without saying that it would be much better to prepare in advance. For myself, I feel that it is good for songs to be selected by topics. Much can also be said for selecting them in such a way that one song leads smoothly into the next song, prayer, or sermon. Our singing would undoubtedly improve markedly if we would always keep in mind that when we sing the songs of the Church, we are submitting our efforts for the approval of God. And he will not, I am convinced, be pleased with what is left over from the weekend or a "day at the office."

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