I have been so impressed with our singing lately (and I have heard others comment on it as well). Perhaps it is just our swelling numbers (though I think there is more to it than just that), but our “congregational voice” is getting stronger.
We live in a world of commercialized worship bands, many of whom I really enjoy in the car (i.e. Hillsong, Bethel, Chris Tomlin, Rend Collective). These bands are polished and popular, and a few of their songs are really valuable and helpful. However, lest you bemoan our humble-in-comparison on-stage presence at APC each Lord’s Day morning, remember this: your collective voice is what our Sunday morning singing is all about — not the instruments, not the riffs, not the production … but YOU.
A few years back James K. Smith, an author and professor at Calvin College, wrote an “Open Letter to Praise Bands.” Thankfully, our worship team and sound board operators don’t need to hear this, but perhaps we would do well to be reminded of it:
“Christian worship is not a concert. In a concert (a particular “form of performance”), we often expect to be overwhelmed by sound, particularly in certain styles of music. In a concert, we come to expect that weird sort of sensory deprivation that happens from sensory overload, when the pounding of the bass on our chest and the wash of music over the crowd leaves us with the rush of a certain aural vertigo. And there’s nothing wrong with concerts! It’s just that Christian worship is not a concert.
Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice — and the gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship. It is a way of “performing” the reality that, in Christ, we are one body. But that requires that we actually be able to hear ourselves, and hear our sisters and brothers singing alongside us.”
How thankful I am for our musicians, singers, and sound technicians!! You all are doing a fabulous job in not overwhelming us as a congregation, but effectively leading us to sing and listen to our own hearts, to one another, and to our great God!
So brothers and sisters… may we keep faithfully “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart!” (Ephesians 5:19).