I will Sing!
Psalm 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
A recent blog post by Thom Rainer noted that there is a new phenomenon afoot in the evangelical church in America. Congregational singing appears to be on the decline.
An article at factsandtrends.net chimes in with the same observation. A variety of suspected causes are discussed by both articles such as: Too many new songs, the loss of the choir, lack of musical training, focusing too much on trends, etc. While all these things may contribute, I believe we need to do some soul searching first.
I am presently working on a message for our community Lenten services. This year the pastors have chosen a hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This” as our theme. Each week’s sermon focuses on one of the verse another verse. This 182-year-old hymn is fitting for the Lenten season as it re-focuses our attention on God’s saving work in Jesus Christ – the very core of our Christian faith that we remember and celebrate every spring.
I have been assigned the third verse. The verse has the repeated refrain: “I will sing”. It is a declarative statement. The poet is saying; “once I consider the love of God as displayed in Christ, when I realize I was sinking down deep in sin, the only appropriate response is to sing out in doxology.”
Doxology? That sounds like a stogy old theological term. But, that is the right term.
The Holman Bible Dictionary defines doxology this way.
DOXOLOGY Brief formula for expressing praise or glory to God. Doxologies generally contain two elements, an ascription of praise to God (usually referred to in third person) and an expression of His infinite nature. The term “doxology” (“word of glory”) itself is not found in the Bible, but both the OT and NT contain many doxological passages using this formula.
A brief expression of praise to God. And just like the verse from Psalm 9 I quoted above, it is something throughout scripture. In fact, the phrase “I will sing” occurs 145 times in the Bible.
In my study of the New Testament, and the letters of Paul in particular, I have often noted that the Apostle Paul would often break out into doxology, not at the end of an epistle, but right in the beginning or middle. We tend to think of doxology as synonymous with benediction – something that occurs at the end.
Paul however often states a profound theological doctrine and then follows it up with a statement of praise.
One of my favorite is at the beginning of 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal immortal, invisible to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever amen.
This is on the heels of verses 12 through 16 where Paul recounts just how miserable of a sinner he was and yet God saved him from eternal damnation.
This my friend is the heart of singing – the heart of doxology.
I have said from the pulpit that a redeemed people is a singing people. They just go hand in hand. If we are not singing, then one of two things are happening either: 1) We are not truly redeemed – that is, not saved. Or 2) We have lost our wonder that God would save a wretch like us.
Neither position is tenable. Yet, both situations are solved by a healthy application of the gospel once again. The gospel applied and understood will yield a heart willing to Sing.
This is what Paul says: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
That faithful saying is true for everyone! That includes you and me. May we accept it. Trust in it. And find our source of joy to sing because of it. We, the worst of all sinners, are saved by Christ Jesus who came into the world to save us. Sing on!