Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Conversation of Worship - Response Through Singing

We have now concluded the first half of this article on worship. We now turn our attention to our response in worship. Previous sections can be found in the archives, locating in the side bar to your right. The article in its entirety can be found here.

The speaking of God is only half of worship, however. The voice of God comes in revelation in order to call the hearer to a response. This inward response is also an indispensable part of worship. There are five primary ways in which the church responds to God in corporate worship.

We respond to God through singing

In discussing music above, we asserted that music is both vertical (directed to God) and horizontal (directed to others in teaching about God). There, we addressed the horizontal role of music in proclaiming the truth of God and about God to one another in song. The use of music discussed in this section is primarily the vertical use of music—to God—particularly in light of the truth of God that we know or that has been communicated to us. In Ephesians 5, such singing is in the context of Spirit filling (v. 18) and giving thanks (v. 20). In Colossians 3, it is in the context of the changed life and letting the word of God dwell in us richly. These texts indicate that music should flow from the heart that is being changed, and should be directed to God in praise for this change of heart.

The response in music can be an expression of direct worship and praise, an expression of submission or prayer, or an expression of a testimony. Songs should be carefully chosen to reflect right sentiments and right responses. It may take the form of expressly biblical phraseology, such as metrical Psalms. It may also take more modern forms. Today, many churches use hymns that date from the first millennia of church history right up through the present generation. The choice of music in planning the response of singing should take note of the same concerns delineated above of doctrinal fidelity, intelligibility, and propriety. A response is not true biblical worship if it is not an appropriate sentiment called forth from the Scripture that is understood by the worshipper.

The congregation should be encouraged to sing to God, even though it may be an uncomfortable mental transition for some. In this respect, singing should be considered no different than prayer. It is the expression of the heart directed to God himself.

In most services, it seems customary to begin with singing and end with preaching. Such an order, while traditional, puts us in the position of worshipping God on the basis of remembered truth (which is fine), rather than freshly presented truth (which may be better). For this reason, many churches use a “Call to Worship” consisting of a passage of Scripture to set the theme for corporate worship. An alternative may be to move the preaching of the Word to an earlier place in the service, and close with a carefully planned response of music following the message that consists of more than one song.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Larry, I'm enjoying this series!
Bruce C.