How important is our worship in song? What role should it play in our worship, and in our lives? Paul puts it this way:
“Addressing one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord with you heart” (Ephesians 5:19).
This key verse starts with one command (“Addressing one another”) and is followed by three participles (in English, words ending in the letters “ing”). Thus Paul instructs us in our hymns to “address one another,” then adds the specifics: “Singing,” “making melody,” and “giving thanks.” In a word, we address each other in song. Our hymns affect two areas, our hearts and each other. Consider the profound possibilities of our hymns to strengthen, to teach and to encourage.
This truth is expressed further by Paul’s vibrant analogy with a stringed instrument. Note carefully what he says about “making melody.” The word comes from the Greek psallo, and depicts the strings of an instrument being vibrated. Paul might have said that our hymns are “vibrating” the strings of a harp, or similarly vibrating the strings of a lyre, but, and it is vital to see this, he actually says that our hymns are to “vibrate the strings of our hearts!”
In a word, our hymns are intended, even designed to penetrate to the very core of our beings, the words and the music are to move the very deepest part of our person! Can you imagine words that are true, biblical, exalted expression set to music echoing to the depths of our hearts. Or, conversely, how dare we sing these great sentiments and it not reach our hearts?
Augustine put it well: “How many tears I shed at the sound of hymns …sung by impassioned voices of you church! Their voices poured into my ears and dissolved into my heart” (Confessions9,6).
Like sugar in sweet tea, these sentiments are supposed to filter into our Christian character.
Our worship in song is not an interlude filling time between the Lord’s Supper and the sermon; it is an integral and vital part of our worship. It enriches and teaches in a manner that can only be described as God-designed.