Why Do We Sing?, Part 1

August 8, 2010 Pastor: John Fonville

Scripture: Colossians 3:16

Why Do We Sing?

Why Song and Singing is Central in Worship


Scripture: Selected Texts




Why do we sing?




I.         The large number of Scriptures that focus upon songs and singing.


II.         The aesthetic contribution songs and singing.


III.         The instructive power of songs and singing.


“If a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation.” Andrew Fletcher,


“We can mention only one point (which experience confirms), namely, that next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise,” (Luther’s Works, vol. 53, p. 323).


“I also wish that we had as many songs as possible in the vernacular which the people could sing during mass…But poets are wanting among us, or not yet known, who could compose evangelical and spiritual songs, as Paul calls them [Col. 3:16], worthy to be used in the church of God,” (Luther’s Works, vol. 53, p. 36).


“God has the Gospel preached through the medium of music.”


“…it was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be associated with the Word of God as music. Therefore we have so many hymns and Psalms where message and music join to move the listener’s soul,” (Luther’s Works, vol.  53, p. 323).


“Music and notes…do help gain a better understanding of the text.” Martin Luther


18 …do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord,” (Eph. 5:18-19).


“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” (Col. 3:16).


“For, unquestionably, Paul here addresses men and women of all ranks; nor would he simply have them take a slight taste merely of the word of Christ, but exhorts that it should dwell in them; that is, that it should have a settled abode, and that largely, that they may make it their aim to advance and increase more and more every day,” (Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. XXI, p. 216).


IV.         The all-encompassing activity required by songs and singing.


“Man should not only praise God with his lips. The entire man should be filled with songs of praise,” (Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians/Philemon, p. 210).


“…the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music and by providing sweet melodies with words,” (Luther’s Works, vol. 53, pp. 323-324).


“I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: 'Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?' The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value,” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Praise in the Psalms).


“Bold, vigorous rejoicing tells the story of God’s victory and our deliverance. The battle is won in Christ, and we sing with jubilation,” (Paul Westermeyer, Te Deum: The Church and Music, p. 147).


“We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation,” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Praise in the Psalms).




“In the Old Testament, God filled the temple with music and musicians- as well as now in the church. This is to show how Christ speaks in the gospel, that ‘His joy may abide in you, and that your joy may be full’ (John 15:11),” (Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p. 124).


“For God has cheered our hearts and minds through His dear Son, whom He gave for us to redeem us from sin, death and the devil. He who believes this earnestly cannot be quiet about it. But he must gladly and willingly sing.” Martin Luther


© John Fonville

Permissions: Permission is happily granted to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not revise the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on Paramount's website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by John Fonville.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Fonville.