Is singing praise and worship music mandatory?

I use to think we, the church, are required to sing worship songs that only bring praise and glory to our Lord. I have even heard pastors say that worship songs are required to be sung in church. However, I have never looked to scripture to read where that request had been made. Until recently. While listening to a message the pastor said that scripture does not state we are commanded to sing worship songs at our church services. So, as 1 Thess. 5:21 states “test everything, hold fast to what is good” I decided to study and test the scriptures to find what the Biblical truth is concerning praise and worship songs. Below is what I discovered.  

One of the most important things I learned a long time ago was to give praise and glory to God for all the blessings that I (we) have been given because they are from Him and because of Him and not my (our) own hand. And that whatever I (we) do (that is good and pleasing) I (we) do should bring glory to God. This is according to 1 Cor. 10:31, “so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” and Colossians 3:17 ”And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” 

I wondered what is a hymn? According to the American Heritage Dictionary: Hymn: noun, a song of praise or thanksgiving to God or a deity. A song of praise or joy. In general, a religious ode, song, or other poem.

And what is praise? According to the American Heritage Dictionary: Praise: noun, expression of approval, commendation, or admiration. The extolling or exaltation of a deity, ruler, or hero. A reason for praise; merit.

Even a secular dictionary states we are to sing a hymn and give praise to God who is worthy. 

But does this say we have to or must sing songs of praise in church? 

The following scriptures tell us to;

Psalms 100:1-2 Make a joyful noise, Psalms 95:1-2 let us sing unto the LORD,  Colossians 3:16  teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace, Psalms 147:1 it is good to sing praises unto our God Ephesians 5:19 singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord James 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms, 1 Corinthians 14:15 I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also, Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will joy over thee with singing Psalms 105:2 sing psalms unto him, Psalms 33:3 Sing unto him a new song, Psalms 59:16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song.

Other comments relating to praise and worshiping God with hymns and psalms: 

As it is written: ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing praises of your name.’ Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people.’ And again, ‘Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol Him’” Romans 15:7–11.  

Whom do we praise? The Lord alone Psalm 148:13. How do we praise Him? With singing Psalm 149:1, with dancing (verse 2), with musical instruments Psalm 150:3, with our words (Psalm 35:28), with our actions Colossians 3:17, with our uprightness Psalm 119:7, and with all our hearts Psalm 86:12. When should we praise the Lord? All the time Psalm 34:1. We should express our adoration, approval, thanksgiving, and celebration to the One who created and redeemed us. “How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” Psalm 147:1.  Taken from GotQuestions.org

Psalm 117:1–2 says, “Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.” Paul quotes this verse in Romans 15:8–13. Praising the Lord is certainly something all people should do. So what exactly does it mean to praise Him?

“There are multiple words in Hebrew and Greek translated as “praise” in our English Bibles. In essence, to praise is to express adoration or approval. We praise the Lord for His traits, His works, and His character. Praise includes the acts of blessing, commending, honoring, thanking, celebrating, and rejoicing. We praise the Lord because He is worthy of all our praise. He is worthy of all adoration and approval.”  Taken from GotQuestions.org

I wondered what is a Psalm and do we sing a Psalm to God?  

“A psalm is a song or poem used in worship. The word psalm comes from the Greek word psallein, which means “to pluck.” That word gave rise to psalmos, which means “a song sung to harp music.” (The strings on a harp are plucked, at least some of the time.) Finally, the English word psalm means “song” but usually refers to a sacred song regardless of what instrument it might be played on.  

The book of Psalms is a book of songs that is sometimes called “Israel’s National Hymnbook.” The title of the book in Hebrew is Tehillim, which means “Praises.” It is a book of praises, but some of the psalms are written out of deep despair and questioning. It is a book of prayers containing the writers’ innermost questions and doubts as well as their praises and thanksgiving.”  Taken from GotQuestions.org

After considering all the information I learned from scripture I believe that, if we follow scripture, we can and should sing songs of praise and worship to God, we can sing songs giving thanks for all He has done for us, and sing the praises of His future plans for His children. We can also sing songs of joy, rejoicing, and how much we love the Lord. Our praise and worship can come in many different styles, words and a variety of instruments.  

But no matter what songs we sing they are to directly or indirectly to give all the praise, glory, adoration, power and worthiness to God and Him alone. And they should be done in a manner that shows honor and respect to God and His position. Concert-like services where the focus is shared with the lights, performances, theme, and stage props are for another time and place. 

Lastly, during my research I found the below articles very informative and appropriate for my study. I think they are worth a read.

When singing a hymn or song together, we become participants rather than observers of worship. Singing gives us an opportunity to make ourselves really and truly present—to “step into the room” and take an active part. We become givers as well as receivers. We give our individual voices to the whole ensemble –thus demonstrating first-hand how “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” When done with confidence and enthusiasm, this totality of sound created by the group—combined with each individual contribution, voice by voice—moves us from simply being those who attend worship to those who experience worship. This is the beauty and power of congregational singing—a special time to be actively involved and contribute

Article produced by the Unitarian-Universalist Association.  [http://www.uua.org/documents/poleyjoyce/music_ministry.pdf] Note: I do not believe the values or the belief system of their faith is Biblical. However, I agree with their comments concerning singing and worshiping God and find it appropriate. 

Comment below taken from the article on “The Command to Sing”

Posted By Harbor Church, 06/26/2014 

When the Reformation began in the 15th century, this began to change. Martin Luther, who bridged from the late Middle Ages into the Renaissance, was influenced by the classical Greek idea that music has inherent moral virtue. Aristotle had written, “It is plain that music has the power of producing a certain effect on the ethos of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it.” Luther thought that music was an important part of education. In his reforms of worship, his main goal was to restore the preaching of the Word, but his secondary goal was to give lay people both education and access to participation in worship. He encouraged both psalm singing and hymn writing and the use of folk music and popular tunes instead of the Gregorian chant, which had never found a home in the hearts of the German peasants. Here’s what Luther said about music:

“I wish to see all art, principally music, in the service of Him who gave and created them. Music is a fair and glorious gift of God. I would not for the world forego my humble share of music. Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry, and smile through their troubles in song. Music makes people kinder, gentler, more staid and reasonable. I am strongly persuaded that after theology there is no art that can be placed on a level with music; for besides theology, music is the only art capable of affording peace and joy of the heart…the devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God.”

And Karl Barth states;  The leading Reformed theologian of the 20th century, Karl Barth, wrote: Singing is a characteristic of life in the body of Christ. Singing is not only for musicians. It is not only for the sanctuary, but for wherever God’s people gather. The Christian church sings. It is not a choral society. Its singing is not a concert. But from the inner, material necessity it sings. Singing is the highest form of human expression…What we can and must say quite confidently is that the church which does not sing is not the church.

We are to make a joyful noise; Psalm 100:1A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!”  Remember that the next time you are attending church.

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