The Importance of Singing in Spiritual Formation

Andy Crouch (2017) makes an interesting point about the wholistic nature of singing and its contribution to our spiritual formation:

Worship is more than singing, of course. But there is something about singing that is fundamental to Jewish and Christian worship – starting with the Psalms, continuing with the hymns that grew out of the early church and the renewal and revival movements of subsequent centuries, finding new expression in the chants of Christian slaves in the American South, and abounding even today in a profusion of “worship music.”

Simply, singing may be the one human activity that most perfectly combines heart, mind, soul, and strength. Almost everything else we do requires at least one of these fundamental human faculties: the heart, the seat of the emotion and the will; the mind, with which we explore and explain the world,; the soul, the heart of human dignity and personhood; and strength, our bodies’ ability to bring about change in the world. But singing (and maybe only singing) combines them all. When we sing in worship, our minds are engaged with the text and what it says about us and God, our hearts are moved and express a range of emotions, our bodily strength is required, and – if we sing with “soul” – we reach down into the depths of our beings to do justice to the joy and heartbreak of human life. (pp. 190-191)

Crouch, A. (2017). The tech-wise family: Everyday steps for putting technology in its proper place. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Old Liturgy

Growing up, the old liturgy at my church seemed tedious at times. Sit down. Stand up. Repeat. But Kevin DeYoung’s got me thinking.

DeYoung comments on the New Evangelical liturgy. He points out what few of us consider: We all have a liturgy. We may not think of this or that church as particularly liturgical, and yet, technically, every order of service is a type of liturgy. So even the hippest, most nonchalant church has a liturgy. The question is simply one of kind.

In particular, DeYoung wonders if the casual liturgy of our generation reaches the depths of some of the more traditional forms. As I scour my memory, I see his point.

Off the cuff…

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into hell and on the third day, he arose again from the grave. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right have of God the Father. From thence he shall come to judge the living and dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

That’s the Apostles Creed from my memory. I have not repeated it during a service in over ten years. I don’t remember it perfectly, but lodged in my brain the kernel sits, a pearl-like deposit of theology. And let me tell you, that’s a load of theology. The creed captures a systematic theology tome in a nutshell.

There must be something to a liturgy that could leave me so aptly trained. I wonder what our Passion generation will remember from their youth. Is Christian rap the next best alternative to creedal recitation? Maybe.

All of this discussion is really just an introduction to ask you this: What do you think? What are some of your poignant memories of worship growing up? For those of you who have experienced old and new liturgies, which do you prefer? Is one better than another? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Click here to comment).