Wednesday, November 9, 2022

So what. . .

I read something a few months ago that effectively said, stop trying to find out why people are not singing and start expecting everyone to sing.  Okay, it was not quite that blunt but you get the drift.  We seem preoccupied by the whys or why nots of life -  as if explanations answered everything.  Do we really want to know why people are not singing?  We already know that the chorus or glee club or choir is not a big part of school (elementary or high school).  We already know that music as a genre has moved from participation to performance.  We already know that the playlist has moved from the community to the individual.  I could go on about what we already know -- things that certainly might contribute to why folks are not singing.  What does that matter?  How are you going to change it?  Do you have the change the world in order to address singing in the Church?

Singing is your sacred duty.  Music was not created by God for our own purposes but for His glory.  It was not that long ago that most music was sacred -- one way or another.  Now sacred music is the exception rather than the rule.  We all know that.  But does that relieve us of the duty to use song to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness?  Are we given a pass on singing because we personally do not like it?  Is that how God operates?  He gives us something for one purpose, we distort that purpose and rob Him of what He created, and He shrugs His shoulders and says, Whatever?  

We do not sing because we are great solo voices or because it really makes our day.  We sing because God has given us something to sing about -- His sufficient grace to forgive our sins, rescue our lost lives, restore us to Himself, and redeem us for everlasting life.  That ought to be enough not only to inform what we sing but to get us to open our mouths and just do it.  If not, the problem does not lie with singing.

The sad and rather pathetic truth of it all is that church music has gone commercial on us.  It has become the domain of copyrights and money collected to the point where some would rather no one use their music than somebody gets by without paying.  Now I say this as one who firmly believes the composer is worthy of the money due him or her for the service they provide us.  But it has gotten out of hand.  As if that were not enough, we have turned worship music into a commercial enterprise for all the wannabe garage band members who think of church music as cover music by cover bands -- there to entertain and to make the music what they want it to be (all in the editing).   The Lord gave them the song but they will sue the pockets off you if you violate their copyright and they wrote it for the worship diva whose voice makes it sound oh so good and a congregation would just butcher it anyway.  I will admit that when I go to a concert, I pay big money for tickets to hear the artist sing and not the crowd around me or the "I think I am a diva" in front of me.  But worship is not a concert venue.  Most, if not all the music in worship is participatory by nature -- it is congregational song.

You don't like to sing?  So what.  Just do it.  You don't like the songs chosen?  So what.  Just do it.  Is that so hard?  I know that as a pastor it is frustrating to see lips closed and mouths not moving as we sing liturgy and hymns.  Can you imagine how God feels?  He gives us music, gives us something to sing about, and we are whining about what we want or what we don't want.  I am here to say, just do it.  Music may not be able nor was it ever intended to lead you into God's presence, but it can keep you there as you sing back to Him what He has first said and sung to us.  Just do it.  

When my mother lay dying, her pastor sat with her singing hymns and speaking Scripture.  Mom never had much of a voice and knew little about how to sing but she was literally sung into heaven by a good and faithful pastor.  When we did the commendation of the dying with her, her two sons joined their voices to this good pastor's own voice to sing her into heaven.  I am forever grateful for that good pastor and for his willingness to sit down with mom, sing the hymns she knew and loved even if she never sang them well.  And you think that God cannot use music?  Just sing the hymns and the liturgy, for Pete's sake.

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