I wrote this article in August 2002, following a camp session at Quartz Mountain Christian Camp in Oklahoma.
At camp two weeks ago, I was reminded of the gift of song. In attendance was a young camper, Brian, who loved to sing. He was not familiar with most of the words to the songs we sang, but still he sang. He was always out of tune, but still he sang. And, on his face, as he sang as loud as could be, there was a beaming smile.
Have we forgotten the gift of song? As we gather to worship, I look around as the songs are sung. The faces I see are often expressionless. Eyes are downcast. The words are more mumbled than spoken. Many just sit there, silent, thoughts wandering to who knows where. We hurry through the songs, to get to the real reason why we came. The songs are made an afterthought . . . a way to pass time? Have we forgotten the gift of song?
“Come, let us sing with joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation.” These are the words of Psalm 95, a beautiful song of praise. Little Brian reminded me of these words as he sang with such passion.
What a wonderful gift God has given to us: the ability to lift our voices in song. We are commanded to sing to one another, but not in order to pass the time, or as a means to transition from one act of worship to another. We are commanded to sing to one another in order to encourage and to teach and to inspire and to uplift one another.
Singing is a rather unique act of worship in that we are called upon to join together in one action. A preacher preaches, the congregation listens. A prayer leader words a prayer, the church is present in spirit, but the words remain those of the leader. And, at the Table, our reflections are usually to ourselves. But, as we sing, our voices are lifted as one. We may sing different notes, and the words may not be the same for all, but the effect is singular . . . it is communal: a song from all those present is offered to God.
Come, let us sing with joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation.