California concert

Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart” (Ephesians 5:19).

The phrase “making melody” in this verse is rich with implications for our worship in song. It means to “pluck the strings of,” in the sense of a harp, perhaps, or a lyre. But this emphatically does not mean that we are to play a cold, mechanical instrument in worship. Note that the instrument whose strings we pluck is the human heart!

When I lived in the Tehachapi Mountains, I grew to anticipate their annual show of California poppies in the spring. After the freezing winter rains, the hills were covered in millions of the butter-yellow flowers, transforming the dusty hillsides to a golden glow. When we took our infant daughter to the roadside to take pictures, however, we noticed that not all the flowers were in their prime. Some were not yet open, while others were past their best, wilted and drooping. Only a few would have looked good solo, in a vase, on a coffee table, but the combined effect of these flowers, millions of them on the mountainside – was spectacular.

Congregational singing is a little like that. Some worshipers might be good enough to be solo voices, but most of us are like the poppies in the field; some the thin voices of the aged, others the vibrant voices of youth, some better known for our zeal than skill, but consider the effect of God’s people, engaged in congregational singing, in God’s honor.

Carnegie Hall concerts cannot compare.

“Concert music calls attention to itself,” Jack Boyd once declared, “True religious music is aimed away from itself” (Leading the Lord’s Worship, 32).

The most beautiful musical instrument ever made was the human voice, and when voice and heart are in harmony, it is a duet worthy of a great God. And when it is a symphony of God’s people, blending voices, hearts and harmony in worship, words are inadequate to describe what takes place.

God gave us the gift of song. Singing is not an activity we need to be apologetic about, for it reflects the vibrancy of the people of God! Armies march in time to their songs, and Christian soldiers sing.

This Sunday, when you sing the words, reach deep into your heart, the very core of your being, and express those words from your very soul.

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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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