Sing Unto the Lord


The trouble with ‘and’
August 5, 2007, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Thinking Music

Colossians 3:16 in the NIV says:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”
I find this very helpful as I think about church music. Our singing is in response to God and it springs from his word in our hearts. This means our singing should be biblical and it should be filled with thanksgiving and joy. But… the ESV translation of the same verse doesn’t contain an important word. Check it out:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
In the ESV there is no ‘and’ between teaching and admonishing and singing. In the NIV translation it depicts these two activities as being separate but both springing from the word. The ESV and the greek however depict singing as being something you do to teach and admonish one another.
This is HUGE!
When we sing to one another we are teaching each other. I asked the music team at our church how they saw this happening and they came up with two great responses.
1. We teach each other by singing truths to one another. We remind each other of great things that Christ has done and how awesome He is. This is the proclamationary (?) nature of church singing. Proclaiming God’s wonderous deeds.
2. We teach each other by responding appropriately to what we sing. If I am singing a celebratory song about Christ’s victory then my face will show others that I am celebrating and this will encourage them and remind them that yes, it is exciting that Jesus is Lord. If my expression shows sorrow in a song that talks about repentance then I am teaching and reminding the congregation to feel the weight of their sin.
Sinful humans do not naturally respond emotionally to God’s truths. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is something that grows as we grow in maturity. It can be taught. The same could be said about thankfulness or repulsion at our own sin. These are emotions that grow.
Musos and singers at the front of church should be teaching the congregation how to respond to the truths we sing. Leaders can do this by highlighting lines in the song before the singing begins. Another way that all of the team can be involved is by themselves reading through the words that they play and responding visually to what they sing. Too many musos don’t sing in church because they just read chord charts. Learn the songs at home and sing your heart out while you play the guitar. This will be a great service to the congregation.
If you are not part of a music team at church then you can fulfill the same role by visually expressing what you sing so that those around you will be reminded of an appropriate response to God.
May the Spirit be constantly shaping our dark hearts so that we can love God more and hate our sin.

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

proclamatory..?

Comment by michelle

could be.

Comment by Dan

Good post, Dan.

When I was reading this one in my newsreader, I thought it was from another blog I read about Bible translation, one that isn’t always on the money. Reading the post, I thought they’d finally come around!

Comment by Ben

sorry to disappoint

Comment by Dan

Hey Dan…

Tops blog! Love your work!

Was interested by your comment. Had a look at the greek and not sure that your comment reflects the nature of the greek. Though I am a bit rusty on the greek and haven’t researched this thoroughly but it does seem that the way the passage works is:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. (The main verb being an imperative command to let it dwell in you) and then three other verbs hang off this verb. Teaching, admonishing, singing. So those final three verbs are the ways in which we let the word of Christ dwell in us.

I agree with your theology… top notch just not sure the point you made from this passage is valid. Willing to investigate it further if you beg to differ though.

In Christ

Sam

Comment by Hunter Bible Church AIM Crew




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