Pastor’s Letter – November 1st

Pastor’s Letter – November 1st

Dear friends

I thought I would share a few thoughts with you about singing that I picked up as I read some more of my friend Jonathan Edwards’ works.  I am sure that you will see how relevant this in as we have (almost) all missed being able to sing during the recent COVID thing.

So, why do we sing?
Why are there encouragements and exhortations (and perhaps even commands) for us to sing praises to God throughout the Bible?  Is it that God need our songs, like a sportsman needs the vocal of the crowd?  Why should we sing and not just state our admiration by words alone, without the musical accompaniment?  Obviously, it is good to praise the one who is above all praiseworthy.  As the Book of Common Prayer states – it is “right to give our thanks and praise”.

But why do we do it in song?
Edwards suggests that virtually all external expressions of worship “can be of no further use, then as they have some tendency to affect our own hearts, or the hearts of others.“  He argues that the singing of praises to God seems to have been “appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections.”

Simply, we sing because God has created not only our minds but also our hearts and souls and our bodies as well, in such a way that music elicits and intensifies holy affections for God and facilitates their expression.

Sometimes, we of the “evangelical” persuasion can be suspicious of emotion, often looking at the excessive emotionalism of “other” churches, not realising that we have perhaps “thrown the baby out with the bathwater”.  While we may not want to embrace the excesses we may be rightly reacting against, I would like to suggest that we should not be afraid of an emotional response to the truth and beauty of God, for expression of which singing is a great vehicle.  Sam Storms, an “Edwards scholar” helpfully comments, “if the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will effect the heart.”

Cameron Munro
Pastor | Trinity Church Brighton
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