I want to sing because that is how I unburden my heart. This is the sentiment of Ann Wilson, lead singer for the musical group Heart (“Rock Icons” Ann Wilson” VH-1 Classic, 3.4.2015). A burdened heart is a very heavy burden to carry, to be sure. Singing can certainly contribute to the “unburdening” of it.
I grew up in the seventies, having graduated high school the last year of the decade. I remember many songs that resonated with me through the years, and the kind of contributions they made to my psychology on a given occasion. A popular country song some years ago by Dwight Yoakum is still a favorite of mine (“A Thousand Miles from Nowhere”). It is not that I can relate precisely to the lyrics, but there are times when I relate well with the title and sentiment of the song. When I hear a song that resonates with me, and there are many, like “I am no stranger to the rain,” I can listen for hours. Whatever Ann Wilson could gain in her singing, I gain in my hearing.
These popular songs are great, but the real “unburdening” that I need is not found in the popular songs that I like real well, but in the spiritual songs I sing regularly. Each song has a message, but it is the Author of every song writer that gives hope. It is hope and salvation that I need to truly unburden my heart.
Man, I need that!
It is common for churches to sing songs of praise to the Almighty, and we can see the wisdom of this. These songs of praise are to not only be accurate in the substance of the words sung, but they are to be sung with the singular design of pleasing the Lord, and not ourselves. That is not to say that we can’t be pleased in our singing, or even by the sound of it, but if that is our focus, then are we singing to ourselves? Moreover, when the Lord’s people meet to worship, the Lord’s people (or church) are to sing, not some specific, or exclusive, choir/chorus. It is of note that most churches of Christ do not use a mechanical instrument of music; this is on purpose. The Lord does not directly prohibit an instrument in the New Testament, but neither did He sanction one. Thus, to use one in the context of the church’s worship is to presume on the Lord’s prerogative. Let us not lose sight of what is important: our heart in direct connection to the Lord through the songs of praise we sing.
You’ve probably seen lists like this before, but here are few song titles that have been rearranged to reflect what some people mean to say while they sing during the worship services:
- Oh, How I Like Jesus
- It is Fairly Well with My Soul
- Just as I Pretend to Be
- Sit Down, Sit Down for Jesus
- I Need Thee Every Other Hour
Unbelief is alive and well, and even our singing can reveal it. High-mindedness is not the answer because the unbelief can get any of us (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). So honest examination is key; and drawing closer to God helps to get rid of the duplicitous and even hypocritical song notes that are echoed off the walls (James 4:8). If out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34) then how much more so does this truth apply to our singing?
Let us consider our desires, our life and the words of the songs that we sing lest we become the one who sings the stanzas on the page instead of the stanzas in our heart.
That’s a tough question — there are so many hymns that I love. They provide strength, courage, comfort, and an outlet for joy.
Two of my most favorite hymns are Blest Be the Tie that Binds and Will Your Anchor Hold. Some time ago a tragedy befell my family. Our Christian brethren rallied around us, helping us get through. The song Blest Be the Tie that Binds captured the essence of the love that was out poured to us and our feelings toward them.
The second song has been such an encouragement to me to stand strong and firm when temped to sin or when tempted to remain silent when I find my brethren engaging in sin. It reminds me that Christ’s strength passes to me and that I can be a pillar of truth and a beacon of light in this world, even if storms are raging all around.