The Sounds of Joy

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“O’ My children sing your songs of praise. Clap your hands, dance and sing for your voices are music to My ears.

Let all My love fill your hearts, let your music echo throughout the land. Bring praise and joy to all who hear, rejoice upon the land. Carry your tunes far and wide, bring your love to heaven. Bind the spirits who do not rejoice, send them packing with your lovely tunes.

Let not darkness invade your hearts, let not the evil one rob your songs. Lift up your hands in surrender to Me, for I am He who loves to hear the praise of My loved ones dear.

What joy it brings into your heart when love is shown, when love is received. Call out to God in all your joy, let not despair bring forth sorrow for I am with you in all you do.

Rejoice My children, rejoice.

The angels dance upon the clouds, throughout the universe all will cheer. For when your voices raised in love all the angels sing. Let not the times that you are in, the wars, the cries, the times of tears, lead you down a path of pain for you are closely in My hand.

Rejoice O’ children of the Most High God, He awaits the music to fill the sky. Sing loudly, stomp your feet, clap your hands for evil does not like joy.

Praise ye O’ loved ones, your God is listening on the throne. Ring out your words of praise to Him to loves to hear the sounds of joy. Sit in silence for a moment’s time, reflect upon all He’s done. From the cross He came to you to fill your hearts with glee. Rejoice My children for you are free.”

By the Holy Spirit 1-19-07

Scriptural ref’s: Ps. 150

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How come Nobody’s Singing?

Why They Don’t Sing on Sunday Anymore

Looking around the church last Sunday I noticed that the majority weren’t singing. And most of those who were singing barely moved their lips. The only voices I actually heard were those on stage with microphones.

That’s been the case for years now–in churches large and small. What used to be congregational singing has become congregational staring.

Even when the chipper “worship leader” in contemporary churches bounds on stage and predictably beckons everyone to “stand and worship,” the people compliantly obey the stand command, but then they turn into mute mannequins.

What’s behind this phenomenon? What happened to the bygone sounds of sanctuaries overflowing with fervent, harmonizing voices from the pews, singing out with a passion that could be heard down the street? I suspect it’s a number of unfortunate factors.

Spectator set-up. Increasingly, the church has constructed the worship service as a spectator event. Everyone expects the people on stage to perform while the pew-sitters fulfill the expectation of any good audience–file in, be still, be quiet, don’t question, don’t contribute (except to the offering plate), and watch the spotlighted musicians deliver their well-rehearsed concerts.

Professionalism. It seems it’s paramount for church music to be more professional than participatory. The people in the pews know they pale in comparison to the loud voices at the microphones. Quality is worshipped. So the worshippers balk at defiling the quality with their crude crooning. It’s better to just fake it with a little lip syncing.

Blare. The musicians’ volume is cranked up so high that congregants can’t hear their own voices, or the voices of those around them, even if they would sing. So they don’t sing. What would it add? The overwhelming, amplified sound blares from big speakers, obliterating any chance for the sound of robust congregational singing.

Music choice. Sometimes people refrain from singing because the songs are unfamiliar, hard to sing, or just cheesy. Sometimes worship leaders choose a song that may thematically tie into the day’s sermon topic, but it’s unsingable. Sometimes worship leaders choose lame songs written by their favorite songwriters–themselves.

I admit. I’ve joined the majority. I’ve stopped singing. I’m not happy about it. I know I should overcome these barriers and just praise the Lord with my very unprofessional vocalizations. But I long for an environment that evokes my real heartfelt vocal participation.

(See Thom’s follow-up post here: Confessions of a Worship Wars Mercenary.)

(Thom Schultz is the co-author of Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, and the director of the film When God Left the Building.)

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Blessings to you.