OCY Pilgrimage Walk from Newman Centre to ST Michael's Cathedral - celebrating 140th year of the Cathedral.

Speaking to one another

I think all of us have found ourselves “going through the motions” when we sing hymns in worship. Perhaps we are distracted by something in the auditorium – a restless child, or perhaps it is a song that we have sung so often that it is possible to allow our minds to go into “neutral” as we sing the familiar words.

Of course we know this is wrong, and we try to wrest our attention back to the matter at hand – worshiping God. It is worth asking how we might make our worship in song more meaningful.

One of the things that helps me in my worship in song is to picture someone in my mind and direct my words towards him. That way I might think of an elderly person who has just lost his or her spouse when I sing “Be not Dismayed Whate’re Betide, God Will Take Care of You.” When I sing “Yield not to Temptation” I might picture someone in the audience who is struggling with some sin.

A song of praise often takes the form of a call for others to join in their praise to God. Examples of this might be “O Worship the King” or “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.” While the direction of a song of praise is vertical – toward God – there is also a sense in which it is horizontal – toward each other. In a praise song we are reminding each other of God’s incomparable nature, what he has done for us. In both songs we are calling on others to join us in our praise to God.

Certainly when we sing an invitation song such as “Bring Christ Your Broken Life” I will be thinking of a person in the audience who needs to respond to the invitation.

Is this biblical? Remember Paul’s declaration that we “address one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). When we sing we are “teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16). It seems that when we sing there is a conversation going on. In our singing we speak to one another. We encourage and teach, urge and correct. Given that our songs contain biblical content, the songs teach as much about God’s will as the sermons!

This Sunday, speak to one another in song!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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