Make a Joyful Noise

Beautiful strains of music filled our church building last night as the  York College Concert Choir performed. The fifty plus a capella chorus sang songs of praise that brought tears to my eyes.

I was blessed to once be part of this choir, as were my son and daughter, and Dawn’s son. Next year, our youngest, Emma, will be on their risers. All of this reflection made me think about how important music is in our worship.

In Col. 3:16 it says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Did you notice the types of songs are differentiated? I believe that’s because all three types of songs feed a different part of our souls. Let’s take a look.


Psalms: Psalms are scripture, and besides singing the Psalms in the Bible, I think this idea can expand to all scripture. Singing songs based on scripture helps us commit them to memory and recall God’s word when we need it. Many psalms are also songs of praise, and nothing is more important in our worship than praising our Creator.


Hymns: A hymn is song a praise, but unlike psalms, they were not written under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Hymns are filled with important spiritual truths. We might be singing about the power of God, the joy of our salvation, His amazing grace, or recalling the sacredness of a rugged cross.

Some people think of hymns as “old” songs, but that isn’t true. They are as relevant today as ever. They provide a depth and wisdom. They help put spiritual truths and doctrines into our hearts and minds that we will never forget. They touch us intellectually.


Spiritual Songs: Spiritual songs touch our emotional core. Whether it’s a praise song or needing the Lord, our modern praise songs “move” us. We can express our joy or praise or brokenness through these songs.

The Bible repeatedly encourages us “to sing a new song to the Lord” (Psalm 96:1, Isaiah 42:10, Rev. 5:9, Rev. 14:3). Our God is a God of creativity and He continues to bless His children through creative expression. Psalm 40:3 says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.”

By singing all three kinds of songs–psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs–in our worship, music finds its highest purpose. It allows us to glorify our God. Nothing else moves us or lets us express our adoration and thankfulness like music.

And the best thing is that God doesn’t care whether your notes are pure or a little off key. He hears the song in your heart.

Let’s chat now. What’s your favorite hymn or spiritual song? What role does music play in your worship?


He Will Rejoice Over You with Singing

A few weeks ago, I had an afternoon of indulgence: as it poured rain outside, I sat comfy-cozy on my couch, with a cross stitch project in my lap, a fleece blanket covering my legs, my dog comfortably settled between my knees (under the blanket, of course), and one of my favorite old movies playing on the TV, The Slipper and the Rose.

The Slipper and the Rose is a Cinderella story produced in the 1970s, featuring music by the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins), with Richard Chamberlain as Cinderella’s dreamy prince. While some of the production values are a bit cheesy (yes, Kav, the wigs are pretty bad!), the music is beautiful and characters are fun. What sets The Slipper and the Rose apart for me, though, is Richard Chamberlain’s Prince Edward. See, while many Cinderella adaptations, or even fairy tales in general, seem to gloss over the prince’s character (it seems enough that he is a prince), Prince Edward actually has a personality. In fact, the movie probably focuses more on him than on Cinderella herself.

Look of lovePrince Edward’s parents want him to marry for political gain. Edward, however, is opposed to this idea, wanting to marry for love. He hates the ball the monarchy forces on him to help him find a bride. But, of course, it is at the ball that he meets Cinderella, and falls in love. After waltzing to a beautiful melody in the ballroom, Edward and Cinderella retire to the garden.

And then comes my swoon moment: Edward starts singing to Cinderella, a love song that claims her heart.

How many times has someone sung over you? Or even to you? Probably not many. But that’s why I love musicals. People burst into spontaneous songs, whether it be to express their happiness and joy, sorrow and misery, or maybe just to say a funny word (like “Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious”). I love how Maria expresses her joy by singing how “the hills are alive” in The Sound of Music. My heart aches when Fantine sings “I Dreamed a Dream” in Les Miserables. I laugh at the puns and rhythmic intensity of “Ya Got Trouble” in The Music Man.

It brings to mind one of my favorite Biblical passages:

“The Lord your God is with you; He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.”

-Zephaniah 3:17

Gene_Kelly_lamppostI absolutely adore the image of my Lord God singing His love over me. He loves me that much that He bursts into spontaneous song when He thinks about me. He doesn’t care who knows it. Like Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain, He’ll splash through puddles to proclaim his love for us. He’ll belt it from the rooftops, like when Tony sings “Maria” in West Side Story. He’ll spin us around in circles with wonder that we love Him back, like Motel sings “Wonder of Wonders” in Fiddler on the Roof. He’ll seduce us with his “Music of the Night.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of a God who rejoices over me with singing causes my knees to go weak, and my heart to beat a little bit faster. I know I’m a romantic, but so is my Heavenly Bridegroom.

I can’t wait to hear His voice singing over me.