“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord…”Ephesians 5:19
Is singing important for gathered church worship? Restrictions this weekend require no congregational singing. This should be put into context. This is the first time in South Australia no singing has been required. Other Australian states have been here before. After a year, Britain churches cannot yet sing indoors. This has made me wonder, does singing matter?
I know there are a number who cannot wait for the music to finish. I also know for some the church experience is focussed on singing. It does appear not singing in church is a big deal. Over the past year, various countries have had petitions to change the restriction. There have been churches illegally gathering, to sing. Californian churches even sued the state, so they could sing together.
Does singing matter? Surely, not so much we sue the state! The Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli, a talented musician himself, believed music was too emotional and would draw people away from the word of God. Therefore, he required churches to have no music at all. They read scripture together instead. While Zwingli sounds like a bundle of fun, I think he came down too hard on music. Besides, playing music badly and singing out of tune can also reduce the risk of ‘emotionalism’.
The Apostle Paul saw singing as a way of encouraging one another and worshipping God. Songs give the congregation voice together in worship. As Zwingli recognised music is emotional, which may be a danger, but is usually wonderful for the heart. Great lyrics combined with music can engage the mind and lift the spirit.
We cannot sing together this weekend, so we will access other ways of worshipping together. I suspect we will miss it. I for one am glad this is likely to be an unusual weekend.