Over the last couple of years, I have written on the subject of singing and the importance of corporate worship through song. As it relates to our local church, we want to be good stewards of tools such as technology and other resources that we have at our disposal. When we consider how we sing and the importance of the level of volume from the congregation, the flow of the voices, and other issues—we have decided to return to the hymnal in 2019, but at the same time, we’re not turning our back on advanced technology.
In our elders’ meeting recently, we decided to lead our church to purchase a new hymnal that would update the old one that we have in our pews currently. On top of that, we discussed the need to put priority upon the singing of the congregation and to make sure we are training up another generation regarding the importance of singing the gospel. This conversation was sparked by something that I’ve been noticing for quite a while in our local church and it was confirmed in my family vacation this past year.
We were in a small town in the mountains of Colorado when my family and I arrived at a small little church. When we took our seat—filling up one entire small pew at the front of this little church building, we were handed an order of worship for the day. The number for the hymns were found in the order of worship and we were expected to open our hymnal and follow along. I noticed how my children struggled to find their place in the hymnal and to follow the flow of the song. I was reminded that we, in our local church, are not doing a good job of teaching the children how to use hymnals. That fault sits squarely upon my shoulders—and the other elders who serve alongside me.
Our return to the hymnal will not cause us to turn our backs on the use of technology. We will continue to use screens and put words from the hymns on the screen, but we will put an emphasis on using the hymnal too—in order for us to follow the flow of the song and to learn how to recognize the direction of the notes so that we can remain on key as we sing. This will enable us to teach another younger generation on the importance of singing and how to use the hymnal to sing corporately to the Lord.
Beyond the great resource as a tool for singing, the hymnal will serve our congregation well as we seek to engage in the worship of God through his Word. Many congregations no longer engage in responsive readings, but we believe that it can be a wonderful time to confess truth together and to plant God’s Word deep within our soul. This response by the church gathered together will be a great encouragement to one another and will increase our corporate worship.
Finally, the use of a simple hymnal will enable parents to see how they can use it within their homes for family worship. When the family sings together, it prepares each member of the family for the corporate gathering on Sunday and it’s a beautiful time of worship. Sometimes families don’t sing at all because they don’t have good resources, but a good hymnal or two in the home could help transform the singing of the family which could help transform the singing of the local church.
As we begin 2019, we desire to strengthen our local church and to increase our worship through song. Singing the gospel is an integral part of corporate worship and we must prioritize opportunities to increase the way we gather together and sing the gospel of Jesus Christ.