J. Michael McMahon, president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, asked in a homily published in 2002, “Why Do We Keep Singing?”
He looks at the world condition and sees tragedies in New York, Washington, Afghanistan, the Holy Land and many other parts of God’s kingdom. He sees abortion, genocide, religious persecution, child abuse, maltreatment of women, discrimination and a host of other moral problems.
Why sing indeed? Well, McMahon says, “We sing because we have been baptized into Christ Jesus and have pledged ourselves to be His followers.”
We sing because we stand in a world in need of the song of Jesus. Our singing gives expression to the power of God and the power of God’s love. We sing because our praise is beautiful to God. And we sing because we must.
Plus, there are health benefits to singing. A paper in “Perspectives on Public Health” reported that students in choral programs had increased lung capacity, improved mood, reduced stress and also perceived social and spiritual benefits. So, sing to decrease your stress levels and improve your immune system.
Even the words you speak are your song in life, to life and to God. Do you know the words from this song? “I can’t help but sing of the wonders of God’s grace for He has given me eternally the song of love, from above.”
Perhaps we sing because God sings. The prophet Zephaniah wrote in Zephaniah 3:17, “‘The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with singing.’”
What an exciting thought! God isn’t just happy for you; He is exulting over you. And that implies the best way to express an emotion beyond happiness is to break into song. If God will do that for us, surely it is imperative for us to show our feelings in song -- whether it is slap-happy joy, questioning thoughts or painful reflection of a current situation. Doesn’t that sound a bit like Psalms? The songs do refer to every misery and yet every emotion beyond joy.
So, McMahon concludes, “Why sing? We sing in order to be who we are: God’s own people, formed and gathered by the song of God.”