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18th October, 2010

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Sing? Who? Me? Why?

You have two options for making lots of money honestly. You can either apply yourself diligently in studying and working in a lucrative profession or you can be lucky enough to have a great singing voice, good looks, and some charisma. For some inexplicable reason the Western world values singing ability above almost any other, with top singers raking in more dosh (deservedly) than Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods - certainly more than the most skilled, hardest-working neurosurgeon.

Equally inexplicably, far and away the chief theme in pop songs is romance. (Romance as distinct from love. Love lies at the heart of permanent relationships, while romance is a short-term endeavor as often as not ending in disaster.) Why not songs about real love, ageing, having children and grandchildren, work, the beauty of nature and the value of virtue? Above all, why not about?. well. we'll get to that shortly.

How often do we pause to consider where the miraculous gift of singing came from? Or what we should use it for? Of course, if beautifully-vibrating vocal cords are the fortuitous fruit of a mutation in an ape's DNA accompanied - against all the odds - by coincidental mutations that enabled proto-man's ear and brain to discriminate sounds of varying pitch and to inform the voice box how to produce them, then we must rest content with the evolutionary outcome: the best voices win in the battle for financial survival. But what if. run away screaming, unbelievers. someone actually skillfully crafted the voice box and carefully designed neural circuits to control it? Then it logically follows that that somebody had a clear idea in mind as to how we should use this gift. Does this somebody's Word give us any idea as to its purpose? Yay verily, it does, with knobs on.

As is the case with brewed beverages (Jdg. 9:13), food (Eccl. 3:13), sex (Prov. 5:19), the rewards of labor (Eccl. 3:13), and family love (Ps. 128:3-4), music and song have been given to us to enrich human life:

I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers , the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds (Eccl. 2:8).

If listening to exquisite music and song is "delightful", so too is participating in singing; ". the righteous sings and rejoices" for the gifts of God, including the blessing of a godly life (Prov. 29:6). Whether or not he has a good voice is irrelevant. Listening to beautiful music and song relieves tension. Singing is worth many sessions with a therapist. A singing person is a happy person.

But a session with your Bible concordance quickly reveals the ultimate purpose of singing: to worship and praise our heavenly Father. As much as I hate to rattle off a string of verses, today I'll override this reluctance and provide just

a smattering of relevant passages:

Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel (Jdg. 5:3).

Moreover King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped (2 Chron. 29:30).

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people (Ps. 9:11).

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord (Ps. 27:6).

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful (Ps. 147:1).

Praise the Lord with the harp; make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings (Ps. 33:2).

And just in case we hadn't quite got the point, Psalm 47:6 hammers it home with fortissimo:

Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

During the reign of King Messiah, everybody will intone God's praises with spontaneous and infectious exuberance:

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; oh, sing praises to the Lord (Ps. 68:32).

Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you coastlands and you inhabitants of them! (Is. 42:10).

Sure, it's fun to sing paeans to the benefits of glorious mud, it's heartwarming to croon about a mother's tender love, and it tears at your heart strings to remember Danny Boy's suffering father (or mother) in song; but all that's as nothing compared with joining a throng praising God in synchronized worship with a rendition of "How Great Thou Art". And it only gets better. Imagine the ecstasy the saints will experience, once they have marched in, singing songs of praise in the Jerusalem temple to the God who made them and saved them (Ps. 84:4). Who can contain his excitement at the prospect of learning and singing, in the company of billions of other skilled songsters, new songs of praise to Him who made us, and to Jesus Christ who gave His life for our redemption? If a small group of skilled singers, such as Celtic Woman or Celtic Thunder, can stir the soul, what will an innumerable company of singing saints do? Bring it on!


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