Why We Sing

November 23, 2022 |

Why We Sing

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, with thanksgiving in your hearts to God” Colossians 3:16

I can’t even count on one hand how many times through my years of leading worship someone has told me that singing in worship is a struggle for them because they can’t sing or they aren't “musical people”'. While it is valid that we all connect differently and more deeply with different expressions of devotion, I believe there is biblical precedent for the fact that no matter what our preferences or inclinations are, singing has a unique way of focusing our hearts, minds, and even our senses entirely on the person and work of God. In our congregational singing, we pray, we praise, we celebrate, we lament, we rejoice, and we proclaim. God created melody and music in such a way that pulls on and stirs human emotions like nothing else can.

Christianity has always been a singing faith. Going all the way back to its Hebrew roots, singing has always been a central practice of the people of God. Beginning in the book of Exodus where Moses sang the very first recorded song and rejoiced in God’s miraculous deliverance of His people out of the hands of Egypt. There are over 185 songs in Scripture, 80 percent of them being Psalms. I can’t list them all here but just for fun, let me highlight a few of my favs!

In Numbers 21 while wandering in the wilderness the Israelites discover a well big enough for the whole nation to replenish their water supply and they break out into a spontaneous song of gratitude. In Judges 5, the prophetess Deborah leads a small army of Israelites to victory in battle against a massive Canaanite army and celebrates by singing a very extensive song of praise to God about that victory. In second Samuel 22, after being hunted down by Saul for most of his reign as king, David rejoices in song when God eventually rescues him from Saul’s pursuit. In 2nd Chronicles 20, King Jehosaphat is leading the southern kingdom of Judah in battle against adversaries that far outnumbered them and he sends the Levites out ahead to the frontlines of battle to sing and the Lord leads them to victory. In Isaiah 5, the prophet Isaiah sings a song about a vineyard as a metaphor to encourage the people of Israel that just as man builds and nourishes a vineyard, so the Lord would build and nourish His people. The Psalms contain 150 worship songs sung by the people of God as they navigated all of the highs and lows of trusting God in the midst of triumph, defeat, and everything in between. In the book of Revelation, God gives John a vision of what is happening around the throne of God and John sees every creature in heaven singing a new song to the Lamb of God, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open it’s seals, for you were slain and by Your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe, language, people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign forever”.

In Revelation 15, we see that all of human history will one day culminate with a song. Towards the end of the book of Revelation, John sees Christians who are victorious over the beast and they sing almost verbatim the song of Moses, “Great and amazing are Your deeds, O Lord Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear and glorify Your name? For you alone are holy.”

In Matthew 26, Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn of praise in the upper room after the Last Supper. In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are miraculously set free from prison while praying and singing to God. 

You get the point.

Worship through singing is threaded throughout all of Scripture. It was the natural response of God’s people anytime that the Lord revealed His power, and proved His faithfulness, goodness and holiness. If the example of Scripture is not enough of a compelling case, here are a few more reasons why we sing! 


“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs, with thanksgiving in your hearts to God” Colossians 3:16

“And do not be drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord” Ephesians 5:18-19”

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let Him sing praise” James 5:13

Psalms that command us to sing. (Psalm 105:2, Psalm 5:11, Psalm 150:1, Psalm 96:1-2, Psalm 98:1, Psalm 149:1-2)

We sing to obey.

Singing is not an option but a command. 

The strong exhortation to worship God through singing is mingled all throughout the Psalms which were the collected “worship songs'' of the Hebrew people. This command is not singularly directed towards singers, musicians, and people with musical and creative inclinations, it is a command to all people who know and love God. It is a right response of praise and adoration to the God of heaven and earth. The Bible doesn't say “let those who can sing well, sing” as if natural talent were required to praise God. It just says to sing, over and over again. The command and invitation to sing is perhaps repeated more frequently than anything else in Scripture besides to love.  

We sing to strengthen our hearts in the truth of God’s Word.

In Colossians 3:16, Paul tells us to let the Word of Christ dwell richly in us and then he tells us how to do that….by singing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing stands alongside preaching as one of the greatest ways to have God’s word deeply rooted in our hearts, strengthening our faith and informing our understanding of who God is. The way rich and complex truths can be condensed into 3-4 minute songs is absolutely mind blowing. Most people are going to remember and be able to recall the lyrics of a song much quicker and clearer than the points in a sermon. 

We sing to savor, respond to and praise God. 

“We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment” - C.S. Lewis 

Singing is a natural response of a heart that has tasted, seen, and savored the goodness and glory of God. We sing, not because there is some insufficiency within God that needs our praise and delight, but because our souls were made to see and savor Him and it is only in doing so that we truly know the utter satisfaction that comes from communion with God. Singing is one of the means by which we experience that joy and delight. SO SING!

Davy Flowers

Davy Flowers is a The Worship Initiative fellow and a worship leader at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, and is driven by a passion to see people from all walks of life encounter Jesus for themselves in authentic and transformative ways. She is passionate about worship, not just because God in His grace has given her gifts of music and creative expression, but because He is more worthy than we could ever comprehend. You can listen to her music here.