“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” Psalm 100:1
Neuroscience is making some interesting claims about the benefits of corporate singing. (You can read the article here: http://upliftconnect.com/neuroscience-of-singing/).
The article claims that when people sing together as a group, their heartbeats become synchronized. The practice builds loyalty among the group and triggers the release of endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin. The release of these hormones increases happiness and a sense of well-being.
The Bible makes the connection between corporate singing and joy clearly and abundantly (Psalm 81:1-3; 98:6; Isaiah 30:29; Luke 15:22-25; Acts 16:25; Colossians 3:16-17). Johann Sebastian Bach once said, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God.” When the church gathers to sing around that purpose, our hearts are united and made glad in God’s glory. This is the purpose of our singing in church.
Of course, the neuroscientists claim that corporate singing and its benefits are the products of an evolutionary process for survival. I believe humanity was intentionally designed to be made happy and united together in song. God has made us in such a way that when we sing together, spiritual benefit is enjoyed by the whole congregation.
Allow me to offer a few implications of this truth.
- The experience of joy in worship is essential.
The songs we sing are intended to draw our gaze heavenward, to help us see who God is and what he has graciously done on our behalf in the gospel. If we can sing of the greatness of God and his extravagant grace without our joy in him being elevated, then perhaps it is time to seriously consider where our affections lie.
- When we sing together, we do not sing for individual joy.
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Singing is intended to be a one-another ministry. We sing together to build one another up. We sing together to encourage each other.
- We cannot separate body and soul.
The body is given to express what God is working in the spirit. We must not let ourselves think that the body is less important than the spirit. God has designed our bodies to work in concert with the spirit; to be the visible manifestation of the reality of the Spirit’s presence within us. It does not make sense to claim an inward devotion to God while displaying no evidence of this devotion in our outward living.
At the very beginning of John’s first letter, the apostle speaks of his seeing, hearing, and touching Jesus personally. In verse 4 he says, “And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” It is amazing that John considered his joy in Christ incomplete until it was expressed among the church. Singing is a way in which we all may know the completion of joy in expressing the greatness of God together.
Contributed by Todd Wallace. Todd and his wife, Heather, are members of Springhill Baptist Church.