By John Quek
I get goose bumps watching and listening to singers singing beautifully with emotion and seeing other listeners’ emotional expressions.
Sally Morgan, an experienced voice trainer and writer of “Sing Like You Speak™, says, “Singing is the most natural form of communication and the more real and natural and normal it is, the more engaging and amazing it is.”
In one of her classes, she interrupted a singer who had skipped a few measures of the song while singing the first 16 bars or so and asked him to start again and in following her instruction on how to sing the song in a more proper way, “this man brought the audience to tears with his emotional honesty by simply telling a story through his song. As he continued to sing the song, his simple honesty allowed him up to really wail and it was thrilling to hear! The audience told (her) that they got goose bumps from his performance.”
“It is amazing how simple, honest communication through song communicates volumes to your audience.” And “singing is as simple and natural as talking to your best friend,” according to Ms Morgan.
One can actually be emotionally touched just by a singer who sings with expressions and with honesty. In a touching scene (2 Sam 3:31 -34), King David sang and wept openly over Abner who had been killed by Joab. In his lamentation, the people who were together with David also wept with him. The people were moved by what they heard and by what they saw in David tenderly rendering the words of sorrow and mourning deeply from his heart for a fellow man who perished from injustice.
Most of the time songs are sung because we are cheerful, joyful and in a good, celebrative mood. Of course sad songs too are as just as popular allowing one to tell his story of sadness. Whatever the moods to the sound are, one should be able to tell if he sings it from the heart or not.
James 5:13 informs us to sing if we are cheerful or happy. The psalms or songs ought to be sung with a heart of thankfulness to God and with a mind clear from trouble and concerns. How else can one sing if he is stressed by the worries and cares?
It’s from the heart when one sings just as Paul exhorts Christians in Eph. 5:19, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”. How else does one sing if the heart is not right?
Someone explained that a person who sings and/or makes musical melody, is likely to have less concerns and anxiety. His observation is that he or she would be the person who is with less concern as “if in health, and is prospered; if he has his friends around him, and there is nothing to produce anxiety; if he has the free exercise of conscience and enjoys religion, it is proper to express that in notes of praise.*”
And it is inferred that “praise is appropriate to such a state of mind. The heart naturally gives utterance to its emotions in songs of thanksgiving.*” (*John Gills)
God’s people have always been expressive with their thanksgiving in singing praises and songs. In Ex 14:3 -15:1, “the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant. Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD.” The Israelites sang out of gratitude for their burdens being lifted away.
Nehemiah (Neh. 12:42-43) mentioned that “the singers sang loudly…Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and the children also rejoiced, so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard afar off.”
Ezekiel 33:32 acknowledged that love songs can move someone in love, “Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice” but only if the singer sincerely meant what he had sung and it was not just a performance.
So be it a song of joy or sorrow, it is only when we sing with sincere hearts that we are able to move the listeners.
As we remember the purpose of singing and also the way to do so, we should be mindful that our state of mind and our relationship with one another as well as with God need be in the right order as we communicate in songs.
For some of us, singing praises is only when we congregate for special big events, Friday classes and Sunday worship. There are also other occasions and times when you and I can sing collectively and privately and these are some of them:
1. To celebrate a deliverance or victory
2. To teach
3. To edify
4. For being redeemed
5. To declare God’s glory, grace and sovereignty
Regardless of what type of songs we sing in any situation, it must be done with spirit, and with understanding as in 1 Cor. 14:15. Likewise we are also to sing with a sincere heart in our worship (John 4:24). The question to ask ourselves is, “Is our heart right with God”? If so let us sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! (Ps 105:2-3)