The Senior Sunday School is studying the book of Ephesians and I highlighted to the class that within Ephesians 1:3-14, we see a beautiful “one unusually long sentence”. In it is a cascading description of God’s work in Christ, one after another. Every new element provides a further explanation about what God has done. The rhythm, recurring phrases, makes this doxology one of the most impressive expressions of praise ever written and sung.
On every Lord’s day, we spend about a third of our worship service in singing praises to our God. Just as we encounter God in the sermon that we hear, the prayers that we offer, the partaking of the holy communion, we also encounter God through the songs and music, that we render to the Almighty.
There was a time in ancient Israel when the singing ceased, so great was the sorrow of the people of God while exiled in Babylon. The psalmist graphically described the wrenching circumstances as singing voices and instruments fell silent.
“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. On the willows there, we hung up our lyres. For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion! How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill. Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if i do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”
Singing the praises of the Triune God is the glorious, unceasing occupation of created beings from before creation (John 38:6-7), of believers in every century of Judeo-Christian faith practice and of all heavenly beings (Rev 5:11-4), and it will be the vocation of the redeemed from every nation, tribe and language in the eternal kingdom (Rev7:11-12).
We sing the story of God. And worship is primarily a proclamation of the whole story of who God is and what God has done through His mighty acts of salvation throughout history. The purpose of congregational songs and singing is to tell God’s story. Such is the importance that each believer plays on each Lord’s day, as we are gather here.
Our pastoral musician (together with his team of instrumentalists) deserve all our prayers and support too as they prepare for each Sunday’s worship service. Together with them, we pray for all to embrace and live the Christian faith, developing in spiritual maturity and be theologically discriminating.
May we all sing purposefully and heartily to honour our Redeemer and Creator and may the Lord help all of us to be a worshipping community to sing the whole story of God, from creation to the eschaton.
Elder Andrew Lim