July 24, 2007

Sing the Faith

I conducted no scientific poll to confirm this theory, but I have a hunch that our children's favorite part of Vacation Bible School (this or any year) is the music. You can see it on their faces—they love to sing. And that's a good thing, because over a lifetime of worship and devotion to God, they'll need plenty of singing to capture the grandeur and goodness of the living God that has called them to faith.

Psalm 5:11 - "Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy." What is it about singing that best captures our gratitude for the depth and breadth of God's love in Jesus Christ? Why is it that the good news seems most fully expressed in song? The Methodist William Willimon once suggested that on Easter Sunday, the preacher should sit down and let the choir sing another anthem or two, because the beauty and mystery of something as world-changing as Jesus' resurrection are best expressed in song, not speech.

In a recent commencement address, American poet Dana Gioia expressed a similar conviction: "Art addresses us in the fullness of our being—simultaneously speaking to our intellect, emotions, intuition, imagination, memory and physical senses. There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories or songs or images." Indeed, Christians have known this for centuries. The gospel travels best on notes of hearty praise.

We sing to God and with each other because finally it is singing that best captures our praise and prayer. God's all-encompassing grace touches every part of our lives; it is only natural, therefore, that we would use every part of our bodies—voice, ears, heart, brains, body, soul—to sing his praises forevermore. Whether it's a catchy Bible School tune or a high Reformation hymn, we sing because God saves.