Singing within Worship

In a recent conversation about Colossians 2:16-17 I used an illustration of how to properly understand the passage that brought to mind another topic: worship and singing within it.

I cannot over emphasize the effectiveness and importance of spreading the singing portion of corporate worship across the worship service, rather than 4 – 6 songs blocked together. This is not to say that a large block of songs is never appropriate; there are times when it is very much so—celebrations come to mind. Spread throughout the worship gathering, however, songs take on a context and significance that is immediate and evident, while it is almost impossible for them to carry a similar import when used together in a single set.

Furthermore, human nature is far more capable of lending kavannah (the intentional directing of one’s heart) to a single song, and then to something different, back to a song, etc. then to a large mass of songs. When used as a long set, the singing almost irresistibly becomes the pursuit of an emotion rather than an aid to uniting one’s mind/body/spirit on a truth. Similarly, in a culture of constant concerts it is difficult to resist becoming a consumer rather than an offerer when music is used as a single, lengthy set in an environment so reminiscent of a concert rather than of the Temple.

Music by its nature connects the mind with the emotions, and especially in our culture where music is so ubiquitous and over-utilized, it is enormously healthy to add the context of place, purpose and content to the musical offerings within the arc of a worship service.

P.S.

Here is the illustration I used regarding understanding Colossians 2:16-17.

… imagine if I wrote a letter to churches today saying, “let no one judge you in regard to worship.” It would be obvious from our context (and from biblical instruction) that I was referring to worship styles, and was not saying, “don’t let anyone judge you if you decide not to practice worship.” The idea is preposterous, and the misreading of Col 2:16-17 should be equally preposterous to us if we simply read it in the context of history and Scripture.

Sons of Korah

I’m a huge fan of the band Sons of Korah. They take the NIV Psalms and put them to music–excellent music. In one sense it’s almost a shame to get hooked on Sons of Korah because a lot of contemporary worship music seems shallow in comparison (who could compete with inspired lyrics?). But, having been blessed by the Psalms set to phenomenal music, I sure wouldn’t go back. This is music to enjoy when you’re relaxing, music to flee to when the world gets crazy, music to encourage when your down, music to celebrate when you want to praise, and music to meditate upon when you’re reflective. It’s music to make a part of the fabric of your life.

The Australian group have put out 5 discs: Light of Life (1999), Redemption Songs (2000), Shelter (2002), Resurrection (2005), and Rain (2008).

I was contemplating writing a detailed review, but then stumbled across someone else having already done so. Check out Tim Nichols’ detailed descriptions at http://fullcontactchristianity.org/2009/02/22/sons-of-korah/.

The Sons of Korah website says this about their music:

Sons of Korah believe that the psalms contain a particularly pertinent message for today. They are the supreme biblical portrayal of the spiritual life in all its facets and dynamics. They speak powerfully to a postmodern world that is generally more interested in what the biblical faith looks like from the inside than its abstract doctrinal expression. And for the church today the psalms present a compelling challenge to the often one-dimensional and romanticized spirituality that we find it so hard to move beyond. The psalms portray a rich, multifaceted and real spirituality. They speak powerfully to those who are well acquainted both with the sting of a cursed world and the sweetness of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ. The psalms were originally written as songs and they were intended to be used. They have a role in the spiritual life and they perform this role as songs. The best way to meditate on God’s word is to use music and indeed this was one of dominant original purposes of the psalms. Sons of Korah invite their listeners to discover, through their music, the way in which the psalms can impact our lives today.