It was loud and joyful, the emotion and depth of feeling, every word was sang with feeling, the lyrics were often repeated but they never lost their meaning. I was in church, in a shack of a building in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and I would have done anything to transfer these 300 women to any UK church. I think I was moved because every single one of them had no reason to sing in terms of material blessing or circumstantial blessing. In fact all of them were rape victims from the ongoing rebel-led war and raped many times. Their days are as the Apostle says ‘evil’ but they sing.
When the suffering sing angels join in.
Paul says, “Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord”, Ephesians 5 v 18-19.
One of the major talking points at the moment is that Churches returning to their buildings must wear masks and they cannot sing.
Some people have gone as far as to say this is persecution. But frankly that’s a load of nonsense and they should go and sit with the persecuted Church who are losing their lives for the gospel.
Churches have not always been allowed to sing songs anyway.
As early as the 4th century the Bishop of Milan, St Ambrose, implemented congregational singing. This had great opposition and it was stopped because Ambrose was allowing women to sing also.
However it wasn’t until the 18th century churches began to sing the hymns as we know them today. The pioneer of these hymns was of course Isaac Watts who wrote what has been voted the greatest hymn of all time, “Our God our help in ages past.” I love a good hymn. Not all hymns are good. Isaac Watts wrote this hymn for children:
There is a dreadful hell
And everlasting pains
There sinners must with devils dwell
In darkness, fire and chains
Singing is very important to the Christian. It brings God into our thoughts; it lifts us above our struggles; it confirms our belief in the words we sing and it confronts the darkness that we may be facing.
Corrie Ten Boom who with her family helped save around 800 Jewish lives in the Holocaust of World War 2, captured and taken into solitary confinement would begin each day by singing, “Stand up stand up for Jesus ye soldiers of the cross.”
The history of the persecuted church is full of stories of followers of Jesus praising God in the last hours of their life on earth. Emperors were known to put their fingers in their ears and scream “why do these Christians sing as we kill them?” as the gladiators or the lions ravaged their bodies.
David ran away from Saul who was trying to kill him. He hid in a cave and wrote, “I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts— men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.”
But then he looks outside the cave and something erupts within his heart:
“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” Psalm 57:4-5
It is not the song itself but it is the heart behind the singer. Praise stems from the heart.
Whether we are in lockdown or not, behind masks or not, able to sing publicly or not, “May the praise of God be in our mouths.” Psalm 149:6
Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord
Psalm 57: 7-8 “I will sing and make music. I will awaken the dawn.”
God always does something in you before He does something outside of you. The internal is more important than the external.
There is a song that is sung before dawn, in the night, where there is darkness, fear, terror, loneliness, isolation, God says sing!