John Wesley believed singing was such an essential part of worship that he wrote his "Instructions for Singing." You can find them in the preface of our United Methodist Hymnal, page vii. The instructions are clear and to the point.
"Sing all. Sing lustily and with good courage."
The question is often, "Do we really need to sing every verse of every song?" Yes, some of our songs are, ahem, a bit long. Hymn lyrics usually tell a story or call out the building blocks of our faith. Dropping a verse means we lose at least part of what the songwriter wanted to share.
Music and singing are essential to our worship. When we read our faith story in scripture, we learn that the people of God believed in song. Miriam led the nation in a song after es
caping from the Egyptians and crossing through the waters. The Psalms were written to be sung with rich notes of joy and lament. In Colossians, we read,
"…with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God." (3:16b)
I hope you will come to Christmas Eve worship on Saturday evening ready to sing and take in the many musical offerings. The same is true if you join worship from home or wherever you have traveled. Whenever and however we come together, we tell the story of Christ's birth through music and song. You might think of worship this Saturday evening as a chance to join the angel chorus!
Theologian Karl Barth described singing as a ministry of the church.
"The Christian church sings. It is not a choral society. Its singing is not a concert. But from inner, material necessity, it sings. Singing is the highest form of human expression….The praise of God, which finds its concrete culmination in the singing of the community, is one of the indispensable forms of the ministry of the church."
Or, as that other famous theologian, Buddy the Elf, said,
"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."
I know that some of us are afraid to sing. But friends, what has been the theme of our Advent worship? That's right, "Do not be afraid." I can't think of a better time to sing out than Christmas
Eve. The sanctuary will be full. The special music will be beautiful. And the reason for our worship is a glorious mash-up of awe and wonder done in the name of God's hope, peace, joy, and love.
I look forward to singing with you this Saturday at 7:00 pm when we come together for Christmas Eve worship.
As Buddy the Elf also says,
"Singing is just like talking except it's louder, longer,
and you move your voice up and down."
"Sing all. Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep. Do not bawl so as to be heard above the rest of the congregation but strive to
unite your voices togeth
er. Sing in time and do not sing too slowly. Above all, sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. So shall your singing be such that the Lord will approve here and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven."
(John Wesley's Instructions for Singing)