Some Thoughts About Hymn Singing

Monday, October 05, 2009

During a typical church worship service, there are only two activities in which the congregation becomes actively involved. One of these is the offering time, and the other is the congregational singing time. A living, thriving church understands the importance of involving every member in both of these activities with joy and enthusiasm.

The singing of hymns is a special, precious time of great worth to each participant. The song service should not be taken lightly, or entered into without great thought, preparation and seriousness.

The music director should choose songs carefully, with much prayer. Research into the history, the Scriptural basis, and the spiritual implications of each song should be carefully considered when planning a song service.

The primary goals of the song service are to praise the Lord, connect the members of the congregation to one another in unified worship, and to prepare the hearts and minds of the congregation to receive the preaching of God's Word.

Some churches decide that the singing of every verse of every song is important. To them, leaving out a verse or two of a song is almost sacreligious. As a matter of fact, at one point I was personally accused of being a "modernist" because I did not use every verse of a particular song.

Singing every verse is certainly a terrific practice. In my opinion, the more singing, the better. Many songs do have verses that tend to build one upon the other to make a complete thought.

However, I do feel that on occasion, it is fine and appropriate to "pick and choose" certain verses to be sung, while leaving out others.

Here are some thoughts to consider:
  1. Songs in the hymn book are not inspired, unless they are directly quoting Scripture.

  2. Secondary verses of poetry do not always build upon previous verses. In many cases, they simply state the same idea from a different perspective.

  3. The needs and goals of different portions of a church service vary. Sometimes, for example, the singing of a single verse of a song from memory can be a powerful aid to focus the attention of the congregation on a particular topic.

  4. The goal of the music director should be to engage each singer's mental and spiritual resources in considering the message of the song.

  5. Variety can keep the singers "on their toes," and can help them remain engaged with the music. Our singing should not become merely "vain repetitions."
Whether or not to use a certain verse of song is simply a matter of preference. Let's not allow this idea to become an area of contention.

The singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in our worship services allows us to fulfill the Scriptural admonition to "teach and admonish one another." Let's strive for great, heartfelt congregational singing in our churches!

Curtis Hollembeak

Curtis holds a bachelor's degree in Bible with a music minor, as well as a master's degree in Sacred Music, having studied under Dr. Frank Garlock, president of Majesty Music, and Ray and Ann Gibbs, well-known Christian singers. He has served as music director and jr. high/high school supervisor at Grace Baptist Church of Mankato, Minnesota; school music director at the Franklin Road Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; media engineer for the Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and, full-time music director at Second Baptist Church and Twin City Christian Academy in Festus, Missouri. He is currently self-employed and serves in the music ministry of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Curtis is co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. He regularly sings bass with the Bible Truth Chorale on recordings produced by Bible Truth Music at Faith Music Missions.