In recent posts I’ve suggested we might need to be cautious about the assumption that the 19th July will immediately inaugurate the return of full churches, no masks and a return to congregational singing. I suggested that an interim step might be to encourage different parts of the congregation to sing either a whole song or different verses to each other in a church service. This will give more people opportunity to sing whilst being closer t the current guidance where only a small group or choir is expected to sing.
Whilst still a long way short of ideal, if we do end up following this approach then I wonder if there could be one small benefit, a learning opportunity if you like? Our focus in congregational singing is at its best primarily on us singing praise to God and if we are honest can also become confused with my own personal emotional experience of singing.
Now look at Ephesians 5:15-21 where Paul describes the consequences of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
“Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Notice that we are commanded to sing to the Lord (with our hearts) but we are also to address or sing to one another “in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” Our worship is to God but it is also about encouraging one another.
And a situation where we are not all singing at the same time nor enjoying a performance but rather taking time to listen to each other might well give us the opportunity to learn how to minister to one another in our sung worship. So, if your church takes that approach, take time as you sing to think about how your singing might bless and encourage others, pray that it will. As you listen to others sing, take time to hear and respond to the words they are singing.