I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I, whom you have redeemed. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion. --Psalm 71:22-24

Across the country and around the world, followers of God gather weekly to celebrate. Some meet in churches with white steeples, others in cathedrals. Some meet in homes, living rooms, community centers, warehouses, and so on. While the scenery may change from location to location, the reason we meet together and what we do when we gather often looks quite similar.

We fellowship. We teach. We regularly celebrate communion or the Eucharist. And we sing.

Singing has always been a central experience of the people of God. From very early on in the Scriptures right up to today, singing has been a powerful, shared experience of God’s people.

Why? Why do we sing when we gather together?

I think we sing sometimes because we honestly feel like it. We come together with the people of God, filled with joy. We can’t wait to sing and join in with others.

Sometimes we sing purely because we need to. We may not feel like it, but we need to sing as a discipline of hope. We tell ourselves, “No matter what is going on in my life right now, I’m going to find something to sing about.” Our hope is that in the midst of the difficulties of life, we might find a word or a poetic phrase that might offer a glimmer of hope, something we can hold onto when everything feels like it is falling apart.

Sometimes we sing because we need to be connected to something larger. Early followers of God knew a little something about this when they built the great cathedrals. Their physical creations were more than mere meeting locations. Their architecture ushered people into a greater reality. Walk into any great cathedral and you’ll know what this is all about. You look up. You hold your breath. You slow down. You reflect. The great hymns and liturgies of the Church are like that. They are cathedrals of words – meant to usher us into something larger than ourselves, to remind us of the greatness of the God we claim to know and follow.

Perhaps you know what this is like. Perhaps you have a particular song – one that when you sing the words you connect with something rich, something deep within you. When we sing these words, we step into the flow of those who have sung these same words and found deep meaning in them down through the years and centuries.

We need to sing! Perhaps the next time you gather together with God’s people and sing, you can find yourself in the words, find hope, find something to connect with that’s larger than you ever imagined – something rich and deep.

Why do you sing? What kind of difference has singing made in your relationship with God?