The non-musician in our Christian gatherings often looks towards the musicians with a certain measure of (perhaps misguided) awe. One thing they find ‘awesome’ is that we even bother! We musicians put ourselves through many practices, where we must work closely with others, negotiating different opinions, and we put ourselves ‘out there’ and up front, where the criticism can sometimes sting. . . a lot. (Luther didn’t call church music the War Department for nothing!) And while some look with awe, others may look with disdain and consider most of our efforts simply for show and self-glory.
But there is one thing that keeps musicians (music directors in particular) in the job – and it’s not usually the pay grade! It is the love for gathering people together in song, praising our great God! Corporate singing provides a unique opportunity to create joy as people praise God and sing out words of encouragement to each other. It gives people the opportunity to express publicly the joy, confidence and hope they have in Christ. These are things they may not find easy to say in everyday conversation.
Since God also delights in the praise of His people (which thwarts Satan’s best efforts at discouragement) we musicians experience much blessing and encouragement ourselves in leading people in something that has eternal, spiritual and cosmological impact!
When we put effort into selecting great sets of song, that are biblically true, Gospel-focused and singable for a group of people, there is the hope that the Word in song will challenge people’s hearts and teach them to know and love their Saviour more. The lyrics might even move people to great (or small) acts of love and service, bringing glory to God. Some may experience a lightbulb moment, as a difficult theological concept makes sense for the first time, in song. “Where the Word goes the Spirit goes” (John Piper) – so the more our songs are steeped in the Word, the more He works through them.
And while I admit that not everyone may be looking joyful as we lead them in praising God, it is the possibility for creating deep inner joy that keeps us coming back. This is what we love! We love to hear God’s praises! We love to see the joy that music brings, joy that encourages us all on our journey of faith.
“. . . . for the joy of the Lord is our strength.”
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