Do the words we sing matter?

People sing when they go to church. Maybe sometimes people skip the singing but it’s pretty rare. The congregation gathers, someone says, “Hello” and then the music begins. Some people sing without instruments, some people sing only psalms, some people rap and others sing country music. Everyone sings something, though!

Do our words matter?

Why sing anything?

I worked with a pastor once who said, “The instrument of congregational worship is the human voice.” While I am not sure this is quite absolute, I do think it has a lot of merit. We worship with our voices.

Do we have to sing to worship? If we are not singing, then can we still be worshipping?

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord…”

Ephesians 5:19

Plainly, Paul commanded the church to sing. Yet he also told them to speak psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Our worship is intended to be vocal and specific. Even the idea of singing and making music in our hearts is a specific thing. Music and singing express our thanks, love and intentions to God.

What should we sing?

Again, Paul’s words help us to see what to sing. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. This is kind of confusing, though. Are psalms and hymns different? Are some hymns not spiritual songs? Can a psalm also be a spiritual song?

No one knows the exact form of music the Christians sang. Biblically, we cannot reconstruct their hymnal and song lists. This verse is not intending to give clear instructions about the kind of music we sing. Rather, I think Paul is trying to give a general encouragement to the church to encourage itself in worship.

So what we sing matters. If it can encourage the church, then it is valuable. If it can thank God, then it is valuable.




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