Singing thy praise uplifts my heart,
for thou art a fountain of delight,
and dost bless the soul that joys in thee.
- The Valley of Vision -
I want to make something clear from the outset. This is not a guilt trip where I make a list of the 'Ten Reasons the Worship Leader Wants You To Sing’, or where I write a detailed analysis of why one of the most unifying parts of the Christian life is also one of the most divisive.
Believe me, I have strong feelings about both of those things, but this is not that piece.
Instead, as we travel through 'The Vine, the Trellis and the Crow' series that explores the spiritual disciplines, I wanted to share my experience of the discipline of singing and why I love it.
Singing in Awe
A couple of weeks ago in Geelong we had a joyful ‘Next-Gen Sunday’. Kids were in the service, youth serving on our teams, and we finished singing with the classic ‘My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do! (that’s true!)’
As we sang, I was reminded that there is something about kids’ songs that capture God’s ‘bigness’ in such beautiful ways (thanks Colin Buchanan!). Thinking back to my childhood and the songs played repeatedly on road trips to Sydney, I realise how formative they were for me in appreciating just how BIG God is, and how in awe of Him I was.
That ‘was’, was intentional. I am still in awe of God, absolutely, but most adult Christians would probably agree that something shifts when we get older, and we tend to lose that childlike awe and wonder of God.
Maybe it’s the formative teenage years where anything childlike is ‘uncool’?
Maybe it’s adulthood where the ‘real world’ destroys imagination with its ever-growing cynicism?
Maybe it’s the jaded faith that just doesn’t see God as so great anymore?
I’ve certainly felt all of those things at least once, and I’m only twenty-seven!
So, what’s my solution?
Well, unlike some TikTok lifehack, there are no quick fixes for spiritual disciplines.
But I start…by going for a walk.
‘Huh? Not singing?’ I hear you ask.
Because it’s the walking that leads to singing in awe.
There are very few things that lead me to marvel more at our Creator than going outside. Being surrounded by nature moves my heart. The birds of the air. The jagged rock faces. The brilliance of the night sky. It stirs my soul to sing praises in awe of the Creator of the heavens and earth (Ps 148). That’s where I regain that childlike wonder at God’s bigness and glory!
Singing in the Storm
2022 began terribly.
I was one month into my ministry apprenticeship at City on a Hill: Geelong when a minor medical procedure turned into three surgeries in the span of two weeks, the discovery of a chronic health condition, and months of painful recovery. In that time, the prevailing question was, “Why, O God?” Night and day were filled with tears of pain, anger, and deep frustration over the whole situation.
In the months of hospital visits and lying on the couch, it was difficult to open the Bible. I remember a friend coming over to visit who opened the Word with me, asked what stood out and it just felt like words on a page. I knew in my head that they were true and good, but I just felt…nothing?
But where reading was a wrestle, singing thrived.
Gospel-rich albums fixed my eyes on Christ, reminding me of the goodness of God. And the song that was on repeat was ‘Satisfied in You’ by The Sing Team. The lyrics were inspired by Psalm 42, and it brought me to tears nearly every time – especially these words:
‘So when I’m drowning out at sea
And your breakers and your waves crash down on me
I’ll recall your safety scheme
You’re the one who made the waves
And your Son went out to suffer in my place
And to tell me that I’m safe’
Those words give my soul pause, imprinting Psalm 42 on my heart. And that’s what singing does, and why it is a discipline. It is a powerful tool to memorise scripture, to express gospel truths in new and beautiful forms, and to see God as far bigger than any suffering I’ll ever experience.
That’s why I sing. Even when it’s hard. That’s why I sing of God’s goodness, knowing that someone’s mother is in hospital dying. That’s why I sing of God’s peace and mercy when my friend is battling crippling anxiety.
Singing is a way to remind ourselves of what the Bible promises is true and singing can gently speak into the depths of despair and suffering.
So, when I’m in the storm, I’m not going to use it as an excuse to quiet my voice.
Instead, I’m going to sing (even through tears). The Psalmists did it, I think we should too.
Singing... Because It's Just Fun!
I'm sure it's fairly obvious at this point but, I love music. I always have.
Christian music or secular music, Switchfoot or Trophy Eyes - some of the most joyous times in my life have been singing to and about our Saviour alongside brothers and sisters, but also going to the concerts of my favourite bands and screaming out the lyrics. Music is unifying, beautiful, introspective, and just…fun!
It does feel a little strange to be talking about disciplines and describing one of them as ‘fun’. However, the one for whom these disciplines are truly for, created fun! It is absolutely no accident that singing is a natural antidepressant, releasing endorphins (a happy hormone) into the brain.
We see it throughout Scripture as well. The Psalms are filled with calls to rejoice in God and to make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth (Ps 98:4). Some of the most joyful parts of Revelation are the redeemed people of God singing thunderous praises in the victory of the Lord (Rev 19).
Like I said at the start, I’m not here to guilt-trip those among us who aren’t musically inclined. What I am here to do though, is to show that singing is for everyone – the tuneful and the tone deaf! Because in singing we see a glimpse of eternity. We get a foretaste of the joy of the new creation. And honestly, I can’t think of many things better than that!
So, let’s be a people that sing, in every season. Let’s regain our awe, to remind ourselves of gospel truth and for the sheer joy of it!
Harry serves as an MTS Apprentice and the Music Coordinator at City on a Hill Geelong.
He is deeply passionate about seeing the truth and beauty of Jesus revealed through music, leading people to worship and praise our great God. Harry is the husband to the beautiful Jacyntha, and they love to find the best Asian restaurants anywhere they go. He loves playing board games and Spikeball with friends, and enjoys staying up late to watch Formula 1 races.