Why we sing…

Lutherans don’t sing because we’re happy.  It just isn’t true.  Sometimes we sing when we’re happy, but it isn’t the reason we sing.  This is the peculiar nature of the Lutheran Church, we sing because we confess our faith in the hymnody.  The rich hymnody of the Lutheran church is another avenue by which we learn about the greatness of the Lord Christ and by which we teach the faithful about his merits and by which we declare to the world that he is our Lord.  Other church bodies may sing because their happy, although I haven’t ever seen it.  They may even sing about what would make them happy, I don’t know.  However, Lutherans sing specifically because God has opened our mouths with his Word.  Lutheran singing therefore has to be his Word coming back out.  So Lutheran singing isn’t something that can be done without.  Singing is a must for Lutherans.

The thing that distinguishes the singing of Lutherans from all others is that it confesses our faith.  Not only does it lift us out of our reality, which I might suggest is why any human being sings, but it lifts us into the specific reality of the angels and archangels and the Lamb of God.  Church for Lutherans is a heaven experience and therefore our music is unlike that of the world.  It may have similar notes or even similar instruments, but its words are what cull it from the world’s music library.  Most times the notes and instruments are quite different from the worlds and the whole thing sounds different.  Yet it is the Word of God nestled in the midst of our music that makes it unique.  Our music would echo the work of John the Baptizer and the Holy Spirit… “I must decrease and He must increase.”  It must be pointed to the great work and merit of the cross of Christ.   It does not point in to the heart of the Christian, but rather to the wounds in the Jesus’ hands and feet.

I might add that unique to the church is that we chant.  In other words, we sing everything.  The very experience of church is unlike anything the world could throw at us.  It sounds different, it looks different, it smells different, and even tastes different.  God uses our senses to touch us in a unique way.  Together they altogether call us to a alter reality.  Lutherans are experiences a foretaste of heaven when they attend the Divine Service.  They are in the presence of God Almighty.  They are clothed different, they are speaking (singing) different, and they are eating and drinking different.

It is a beautiful thing that we have a rich musical heritage in the Lutheran Church.  Let our church always remember why it sings and specifically what we are doing when we sing.  Our kingdom is not of this world.