What does it mean to sing?

    You’ve probably heard the saying, “Music is the universal language.” Almost everyone I know likes music, and most have a favorite kind of music. For various reasons, we enjoy listening to music, but how many of us sing? In a movie I watched, the mother of two young children died, and one thing the children noticed was that their father no longer sang. When he told his children that he decided to remarry, they wanted to know if their future mother sang. It was not hard to figure out that singing was important to them because it would mean an end to their sadness and unhappiness. What does it mean to sing?

    As I thought about the various times I have sung, I realized my singing had many meanings. For example, at athletic events I sang The Star Bangled Banner to show my patriotism and appreciation for my country. At a club I belonged to, we all sang the club’s song to produce a sense of comradery among us. When I sing with a group of people during holidays, accompanied by musical instruments, it means having loads of fun with people I enjoy being with. My singing in a choir or quartet at church means I am trying to get a message across to the listeners, and when I sing along with the church congregation, I am giving worship to God. For some, singing means entertaining others, and for professionals, singing is the way they make a living. These examples demonstrate that singing has many meanings. These examples of singing come from human developed traditions and motivations; and they benefit us in good ways.

    There is another kind of singing that does not begin with our own motivation and desire, but with an experience that happens to us, an experience that causes joy to well up within us.

    There is another kind of singing that does not begin with our own motivation and desire, but with an experience that happens to us, an experience that causes joy to well up within us. Such joy cannot help but express itself, and singing is one way of expressing the joy we feel. I recently read Psalm 33 and became aware that the Psalm writer attributes singing to an experience of the awesomeness of God. What the Psalmist realized about God led him to write these words, “”Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

    We hear from some that everything in the world has a natural explanation and there is no need for a being called God in order to explain its existence. However, what modern science discovers about the world is showing that it is most likely to have come into existence, not by chance happenings, but through a powerful and intelligent source. The Psalm writer saw and experienced the marvels of the world we live in. When he realized the life-giving benefits God’s creation provides, he became aware of God’s goodness and lovingkindness. It is God’s doing that we have sunshine and rain to produce our food. It is God’s doing that the earth gives off oxygen and other things that sustain life. It is God’s doing that the earth provides materials for homes to protect us from harmful elements. In many ways, God shows his goodness and kindness to everyone. Seeing who God is and how God provides for us encourages hearts to burst forth with singing.

    Greater still is what God does to overcome the evils that have corrupted his creation. There is one thing that hurts us in life, perhaps more than any other thing, and that is to lose someone we truly love. There are many ways to lose someone you love. Someone or something could steal them away from us, and of course, when they die we lose them. But there are other ways. We can lose people we love by treating them badly. We may not mean to, but with our imperfections, our angry and bitter words, our disappointing actions, our rebellious ways – we hurt people we love. We wish we could get them back, but we don’t know how, or our addictions do not allow it.

    There is one who can help us. The Psalmist wrote about him. He is the one who created us and who fashioned our hearts and understands how they are supposed to work. He responds to those who humbly seek his help, and who hope and trust in him, and he delivers our souls through his lovingkindness. He forgives and frees us from our regretful past. Those who have experienced his love and healing know the feeling of joy, and that joy creates within them a new song. Singing for them means rejoicing in the Lord because he restored them to a new beginning.

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