If you’ve been in church your whole life you may not realize how strange it is that when Christians get together they spend a good chunk of time just singing.
Where in our culture do you find ordinary, untrained people gathering to sing? Maybe the National Anthem or your school’s fight song. Happy Birthday, I suppose. In the car on a road trip, I guess. But really, when to adults in large numbers belt out the same song? A concert may be the closest thing, but even here the primary point is to be entertained as someone else sings. I’m not sure where you would go this week for more than three minutes of organized singing except to church.
There are many ways Christians are a peculiar people. One of them is that we almost always sing when we’re together.
There is a familiar pattern in the Bible: God saves, and his people sing. “The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing” (Isa. 51:11). And so we have songs by Moses, Miriam, Deborah, Barak, David, and Hannah. In the New Testament there are hymns to Christ in John’s Gospel, in Romans, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and in Hebrews. There are doxologies scattered throughout the Bible and songs in Revelation 1, 4, 5, 7, 11, 14, and 15. And did I mention the Psalms?
The Bible has a lot of different people singing different things, but in another sense the Bible only has one song. The song of Moses is the song of the Lamb (Rev. 15:3). They are one and the same. They both praise God for his great acts of judgment, for his fearful holiness, for his righteousness revealed, and for the salvation his works on behalf of the redeemed. The song Moses sang on the shores of the Red Sea we will sing one day by the sea of glass (Rev. 15:2). Eternal praise for the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
There was singing at creation. The Lord says to Job that when he laid the foundation of the earth “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). All the angels sang for joy at the birth of Jesus (as did Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon). Now we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to each other (Col. 3:16). The drama of redemptive history is actually a musical. Will you join the chorus?
Is the Lord your strength? Is he your song? What is your personal anthem? What do you sing about when you are free to sing about whatever you want to sing about? Sing about the Red Sea. Sing about God’s justice. Sing about his power and might. Sing about his salvation. Sing about the cross and the empty tomb. Sing now, sing later, and never stop singing. “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!”
Saved people love to sing.
(This blog originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition)