“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.“ (Ephesians 5:19).
Notice the two-fold purpose of singing. One, we sing to God to praise and worship him. Second, we speak or address one another in order to teach and encourage. Singing reaches the heart of man in a way different from any other means of communication. Since we are communicating with one another and with God, the words of the songs become so important.
Through the centuries music in general, and singing specifically, have become more and more complex. Multi-part harmonies are the rule now in almost every church. Melodies, counter melodies, middle voices, etc. are critical to the beautiful end product we hear and enjoy.
But let us be cautious that the words of praise are not lost in the mechanics of music. To miss the words is to miss the purpose of speaking to one another and encouraging one another. Have you ever gotten to the end of song and realized you don’t recall the words just sung? I have. I think that’s a mistake. We mustn’t emphasize one part of singing over another. Balance is crucial.
The musical mechanics are important because they allow us all to speak at the same time without chaos. The mechanics organize us into a coherent body of believers all speaking together.
Let us never be so enthralled with the harmonies that we miss the message. We can do both!