Minds Made for Musical Worship
Have you ever heard someone refer to a catchy new tune as an “ear-worm?” You are likely familiar with having one of these parasites, and if you’re like me, you probably never manage to get rid of them by any conscious means.
There is no shortage of research, speculation, and debate about this phenomenon, but one thing is for sure: there is a big connection between music and your memory. From using songs to remember the Presidents of the United States to using music to treat Alzheimer’s patients, music serves a utility far beyond just entertainment. If music can take such deep holds on our brains and be utilized to therapeutic ends, then what function does it have in worship? The primary function of our worship through music is the glorification of our Father, but why, in this way, does He command us to worship Him?
Singing allows us to worship corporately in a Spirit of Joy:
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The verse seems to be telling us that when we get together we shouldn’t be losing ourselves to drunken passions, but the real party is singing to our Father together. This singing comes from joy in our heart, a joy brought about by the work of Christ!
We know also that the words we sing will be quickly committed to memory. Though the purpose of the singing is not purely memorization, it is an unavoidable function. I often find myself remembering the words to psalms because of the songs that quote them. In fact, we see God command His people to learn a song for the explicit purpose of remembering His promises and being comforted:
And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.”
It is remarkable how music is designed not only to shine from our hearts but also to imprint itself on and shape our hearts.
For more information on worship through music, see this message by Bob Kauflin.