“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”
Okay, that’s great, but do I really have to praise Him with “all that’s within me”? That’s a little easier said than done, David. What if I can’t sing? What if I don’t like the song? What if there is a two-year-old jumping around on the seat in front of me? Really David, I just woke up. I’m only half way through my first cup of coffee. I’m not exactly in a condition to do more than just stare into space.
We’ve all been there. All kinds of barriers every Sunday morning keep us from engaging in gathered worship. It’s so easy to skip over examples like Psalm 103 and not realize exactly what we’re called too. We’re called to worship with our whole being, all of who we are, joyfully, expressively praising the triune God for who He is and all He’s done. But, finding the motivation for that isn’t always easy.
Here are just a couple ideas for what we can do as a congregation to keep learning how to be expressive, whole-hearted worshipers:
I have been a music snob for an embarrassingly long time. Those that knew me when I was a teenager can attest to this. Unlike a head chef at a restaurant who is applauded for being critical about food, or a film critic who is literally paid and commissioned to pick apart movies, I was just a snob. I would only listen to stuff I thought was relevant or interesting and cutting edge, and I would look down at any other kind of music. So, when it came to corporate singing, I had put up some tough barriers for myself. I spent so much time filling my mind with music which I thought was the ‘best’ that, when I heard something that didn’t fit my little elitist paradigm, I would completely disengage with the song. I’m still fighting these prideful thoughts in the sanctuary, but I can’t explain how wonderful it is to experience freedom from my preferences.
Though you may not consider yourself a music snob, we all struggle with this on some level, and the culture we live in doesn’t help at all. It used to be that there was only a few TV channels to choose from, and you would call up your aunt who had a TV guide so she could tell you what’s on that night. The radio channels had some variety, but you couldn’t pick exactly what you wanted to hear. Now, with multiple streaming services and apps like Spotify everyone has their own shows and music, their own little pallet of media, so that we hardly have to watch or listen to anything we don’t like anymore. But when you step into church, you get what you get. You interact with a bunch of different types of people, and on stage you see a pastor with a bunch of volunteers putting together a service that probably doesn’t always match up to the preferences that you get to choose in your daily media intake.
"We really want it to be much more like a banquet hall than a concert hall."
So, sitting through an hour and a half of anything that’s not always riveting to you is becoming a rarity in our daily lives. Luckily, the church isn’t meant to be an entertainment space. Sunday morning isn’t just for sitting and passively enjoying something. It for partaking in something, together, as a congregation. Though our church is set up with a tall stage and colored lights, we really want it to be much more like a banquet hall than a concert hall. It’s a place where the body of Christ gets to come feast on the truths of scripture together, joining voices in praise to God.
It’s not easy, perhaps especially in a worship space like ours, to get used to singing out. Even if you’re a decent singer, its common to feel a little too exposed, like you’re the only one singing. There is only one good solution to this. It’s not just turning up the music, so you can belt it out without hearing yourself, and it’s not just turning down the music. It’s actually, truly letting your voice be heard.
Have you ever listened to a live band recording where you can hear the crowd singing part of a famous song? With a band like U2, 99% of people in that audience can’t actually sing much of what Bono sings. But nonetheless, when he points the microphone to the audience, you hear the crowd singing in unison. Why is that? The vast majority of the crowd is not really singing those notes that well, but your ear picks out a kind of summary of the voices, and it sounds great. This is why even the “non-singers” can join in on a Sunday morning and be an encouragement to the congregation.
Now, obviously FBC is no U2 concert, but these diehard U2 fans can teach us something. These people have heard these songs a dozen times, they paid hundreds of dollars just to be in that stadium, they are totally bought in. When a congregation is all in, ready to sing with their mind and body engaged, that’s when a true chorus of voices is formed. And for us, we’ve got much more exciting things to sing than some U2 lyrics.
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
On Sunday mornings we all gather around the truths of the gospel, repeating back and reminding each other of the greatness of God, the depth of our sin, the mercy found in Christ, and the endless joys that the Spirit reveals to us. These realties should be ever new in our lives. And, as we rehearse them together, we have the opportunity to form our affections for God, while giving glory to God. May we become increasingly joyful worshipers, with our affections stirred by the greatness and mercy of our Lord.
Want more reasons to sing? David lays out plenty in the rest of Psalm 103:
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who
fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
The current rotation of songs for Sunday morning corporate worship at Faith Bible Church. View FBC Song List.
A compilation of our favorite songs, albums, and artists from sources that are currently producing great new music for the church. View FBC Music playlist.
Note: Spotify is a free service with the option to pay for a premium account. The free version will still give you access to stream these songs on shuffle and more. Download it on your phone, tablet or computer and select “follow” on these playlists to add them to your library.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV).