“Come before Him with joyful singing” (Psalm 100:2).
During the time I sang with the choir at our church, I loved singing for the worship service, but had to make myself go to rehearsal.
Rehearsing songs–whether for church or school assembly or for the juke joint down the street–is hard work.
Gradually, I began to see some patterns forming. Eventually, those shapes merged to form life-lessons that have remained with me all these years.
1) I do not like new songs.
The minister of music would say, “Joyce, pass out the new music,” and I would cringe. I did not read music and did not do well trying to negotiate my way around these clothes-lines of blackbirds. The piano is picking out the melody of the song and I’m working to get it. This is no fun. It’s work.
But a funny thing happened. The following week, when the director passed out that music for the second time, I was interested in that piece. It had possibilities. And the third week, I kind of liked it. By the fourth week, the preparation for actually singing it in church, I was in love with it and had been humming it all week.
But you know what happened, I expect. At rehearsal, the minister handed out some new music once again. And again, I cringed. “I hate learning new music.”
2) We sound better together than we do separately.
Even the good singers, when called on to do a little solo in rehearsal to help the others, even they were not all that great. And of course, I was the very definition of mediocre. But a funny thing happened. When we all joined our voices together, the result was something magical.
I wonder if that’s the reason for church. If perhaps we work better and worship better and pray better in concert with brothers and sisters than we do alone.
3) I sing better and learn faster when standing near a good singer.
Larry Andrews, our minister of music, would place the non-music-reading singers (but with some possibilities) next to solid singers. And we would pick up the notes from them. Later, once we got the hang of the song, we could stand anywhere.
Encouragers and examples to those of us new to the faith are worth their weight in gold.
4) Singing is a great mood-transformer.
How does the line go? “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” (I looked it up. Often misquoted “Music hath powers to soothe a savage beast,” this is how William Congreve said it in his play “The Mourning Bride, back in 1697. We are indebted to him for the line, but the truth has always been there.)
That 100th Psalm calls for us to “enter His gates with thanksgiving.” There is the clue as to how to “come before HIm with joyful singing.” We start by giving thanks to our Lord for His abundant blessings. Do that–“count your many blessings, see what God hath done”–and the darkness of the blues seems to dissipate. Soon, you’re singing and doing so quite well, thank you.
5) Those who bless us on Sundays are the ones who did the hard work of rehearsing during the week.
Just this week, a pastor told me about his worship ensemble. “I cannot get them to come to rehearsal. They love to sing on Sunday, but if I announce a rehearsal, only one or two show up.” Not good. I suspect they enjoy gathering fruit from crops they did not plant or cultivate, too. That kind of laziness is common. Something inside me feels the same way.
Rehearsing is work. But for those who know how transforming an hour of worship with God’s people can be, it’s an investment of faith.
6) When done right, a rehearsal for worship is also a time of worship.
Many a time, I have left the choir rehearsal with my spirit lifted and my heart full. The fellowship with friends was great, some of us hugged one another, and we laughed a lot. We fell in love with some songs and learned to express our love for our Savior more with them.
7) Singing is as much a faith enterprise as praying or giving.
Anytime we do anything by faith–believing, worshiping, giving, praying, going, serving–we do so regardless of what we have or do not have, what we know or still question, those nagging doubts, and the discouragement from others. The operative word is “regardless.” When we pray, we do so regardless of seeing the results of our requests in our lifetime. Likewise, when we drop our offerings into the plate. And with singing to others, in church or assembly or a classroom or nursing home, we must not look for immediate results.
The jailbirds Paul and Silas showed us how this is done in Acts 16:25. Beaten that day and their wounds left untreated, then locked into stocks in the interior of the Philippi jail, along about midnight they began to pray and sing hymns. “And the prisoners were listening to them.”
They’re always listening to us sing.
In the case of Paul and Silas, God did some amazing things that night, all of them instigated by their faith-singing.
What will He do with your singing? I have no idea. But count on it, friend, He will use it for His glory.
So, go ahead. Join with me now. “I love you Lord. And I lift my voice, to worship You, O my soul rejoice. Take joy my king, in what you hear. May it be a sweet sweet sound in your ear.”
Has anyone ever told you you have a great voice. You ought to be in the choir.
(smiley-face goes here)
Excellent points Brother Joe!! I plan to use this sometime and quote you as I have in the past.
Thanks, Joe! I will share with our Minister of Music, Mark Green, & our Associate Minister of Music, Steve Coldiron. I’m sure our choirs will also be encouraged as well!
WOW……..that was a good read …….I am forwarding to our choir and orchestra FB page and passing it along. thank you
I know I don’t sing well but I do love lift my praise up to the Lord
any time even at practice
I don’t sing in our choir, But I know when a new song will be introduced. Three choir members are in my Bible study department. They are bubbling over with the ‘new’ music we will get to hear in the next hour. Now I understand more about the work, training, and ministry that has gone into the joy the choir members want to share.
I’m a choir director in our church. After a long day at work, during my full time job, then after leading Wed. night worship….I sometimes drag into choir practice. But the act of learning, singing, and fellowshipping with other believers, and His music…the hour becomes a worship experience. Uplifting, and a great way to cap off a busy, but blessed day. Thank you for your blog….and your ministry. May God continue to bless your work!
There is no greater feeling for me than the feeling I get when praising our Lord with others in song. From childhood to now, my heart swells when I sing.
Amen and preach it. Thanks!
Thanks , very helpful and I will share it with our choir.
First time reading your work and am anxious to hear more.
God bless you!
Thank you, David. Glad to connect with you.
That’s what I am talking about!
Blessed my heart to read this. Where do you preach? Would love to hear you bring the word whether in song or word. God Bless You.
Thank you, Teresa. Being retired from the pastorate now, I go where the invitations come in. My “speaking schedule” is on my website http://www.joemckeever.com. Thanks.
Hi, Joe! This is Joleen Orr Lewis! Of course, I remember Larry and Joyce Andrews! It’s so good to hear from you and hear about how music has influenced you. My husband and I have been actively involved in church music for over 40 years. He’s an organist and I sing in the choir and work with children’s choirs.
We’ve been doing a group book study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, “Lfe Together..” He talks about how important it is to have worship as a group and how we need to sing together. Much love to you!
Thanks, Ken, for sharing this!
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Thanks for the article. I am using it to encourage our church choir.