A Church that sings

I recently heard someone somewhere (I think it might have been Nigel Wright at the Baptist Assembly) say something along the lines that: an observer of worship at a mosque might conclude that it is all about prayer; at a synagogue, that it is all about scripture reading; at a church, that it is all about singing. I took this to be a pertinent criticism of the church’s worship and a much-needed plea for the Christian rediscovery of scripture and prayer at the centre of its worship activity. Still, while studying the book of Revelation in our house-group, I have been struck by the amount of singing in its descriptions of heavenly worship (see, for example, chapters 4 and 5, which we read last Wednesday).

Eugene Peterson picks this up in his wonderful little book, Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination. For him, singing is a pervasive theme of the entire Bible:Reversed Thunder 02

There are songs everywhere in scripture. The people of God sing. They express exuberance in realizing the majesty of God and the mercy of Christ, the wholeness of reality and their new-found ability to participate in it. Songs proliferate. Hymns gather the voices of men, women, and children into century-tiered choirs. Moses sings. Miriam sings. Deborah sings. David sings. Mary sings. Angels sing. Jesus and his disciples sing. Paul and Silas sing. When persons of faith become aware of who God is and what he does, they sing. The songs are irrepressible (Reversed Thunder, 66).

Perhaps it is not such a bad thing to be characterised by singing.

One Response

  1. Reversed Thunder is the best thing Peterson has written. Actually he agrees with that assessment. It is an exemplary combination of imaginative exegesis, pastoral imagination and downright brilliant writing! Thanks for the quote!

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