Preparing for Worship – Ralph Manuel, handbell coordinator.
How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! (Psalm 147:1)
Among the many adjustments we all had to make during the fifteen months that our church suspended its in-person worship services was the absence of congregational singing. We did the best we could under the circumstances: hymns were still included in the online version of church, but it just wasn’t the same. There’s something about the experience of singing the great hymns of our faith along with lots of other people in one physical space that just cannot be equaled elsewhere. (And don’t get me started on hearing the organ live versus through our personal electronic devices.)
Congregational singing is such an integral part of our worship experience that we rarely give it a thought—or at least that used to be the case. There’s nothing like being forcibly deprived of something to make you realize how important it really was and is to you. But now, we have it back. So what are we going to do with it?
The first thing to do is to resolve to take advantage of every opportunity to sing together with our fellow worshipers. The Bible exhorts us to “sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people” (Psalm 149:1). No other activity has the same capacity to involve and unite the people joined in worship in such a complete manner.
The second thing to do is to “sing joyfully” (Psalm 33:1), regardless of our own musical talent (or lack thereof). God does not ask you to be anyone other than yourself. Another way of looking at it is that no one else can praise God with your voice. As one of the more traditional translations puts it: “O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the God of our salvation” (Psalm 95:1).
Finally, let us not take this privilege of singing together for granted. Let us gladly participate in our opening hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” with its invitation for all creation to break into song in praise to God. As is written in the final verse of the Psalms, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).