Tuesday, 17 July 2012

'The one who sings prays twice'

There is very little communal singing in contemporary life other than in churches, at football grounds and at the Labour party conference. I suspect very few indeed still gather around the piano for a good old singsong,  neither at the 'The Old Bull and Bush',  nor in the home.

But I'm a big fan of singing together. Indeed I think I would go so far as to say that I think just about every gathering of Christian believers should find space for at least one communal song.

Singing together in some ways breaks down barriers between us. However poor our individual voice may be (and if poor we should probably keep the volume down a bit!),  joining with others encourages a sense of community, especially when there is a shared conviction about the truthfulness of the words sung.

There's a very helpful piece by David Koysis,  Church Practices and Public Life: Recovering the Practice of Communal Singing  in which he concludes,
A dozen years ago Robert Putnam published Bowling Alone, in which he argued that Americans are gradually losing the social capital that facilitates co-operation in a variety of venues. The decline of occasions for singing together is perhaps a symptom, and possibly even a contributing cause, of this loss. Could it be that we will reinvigorate our social and political culture by turning off our private mp3 players, pulling out the earphones, and joining our voices together in song? It might just be worth a try.
And for Christians there's great benefit too to be had from singing about the truths which we believe. It was a shrewd observation of St Augustine to say 'The one who sings prays twice'.  I think what he is getting at that as we sing words of great significance and truth, which are offered to God,  it as though we are praying twice over-with our emotions and with our intellect. There is nothing quite like music to touch us, body and soul. Tim Keller in a sermon on 'Singing' points out that the command(!) to sing is one of the most repeated in the Bible.

Just last Sunday evening we learned a new song at Grace, Behold our God.

Who has held the oceans in His hands ? Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice All creation rises to rejoice
Behold our God seated on His throne 
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
 Come let us adore Him!
Who has given counsel to the Lord? Who can question any of His Words?
Who can teach the One who knows all things? Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds?

Behold our God...
Who has felt the nails upon His hands?  Bearing all the guilt of sinful man
God eternal humbled to the grave Jesus, Saviour risen now to reign!
Behold our God..

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