We make music in response to things we feel deeply. Think about it: when you're in a good mood, what do we do? We hum, we whistle, we sing (and it really annoys those in a bad mood). My kids sing a lot. My daughter sings like an angel, but my son approaches every son like he's attempting opera.
Psalm 108:1 says this: "My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul." Did you see that last part? Soul. David's song came from the deepest part of him -- the part connected to God. It's no coincidence some of the key characters in the story of the birth of Jesus burst into song when the birth of Jesus became very real.
Zechariah praised God when he got his voice back and his promised son John was born (Luke 1:68). Mary sang when she walked into Elizabeth's house as they celebrated what was growing within her (Luke 1:46). But let's fast-forward to Bethlehem. Jesus is born, and our story continues. We're taken to a bunch of shepherds who are taking care of sheep in a field. Gabriel shows up again and announces the birth to them. They freak out, of course, and then Gabriel is joined by a "heavenly host" who joins him saying, "Glory to God in the highest..."
And this is where my sermon prep began to fall apart!
A 'heavenly host' is a company of angelic soldiers, not a choir. Notice in Luke 2:13-14, they weren't singing! It's clear they were speaking, probably resembling something like a 'hua!' from a company of Marines. I know this really messes up our angels in choir robes playing harps imagery, but these were soldiers. And they weren't singing.
I was pretty sure angels sing, so I decided to go to Revelation -- where I know they sing! To prove myself right, I started reading Revelation, and you know what I found? The only ones singing in Revelation are God's redeemed people! The angels either speak, cry, our shout. Soldiers don't sing!
So I went to the Old Testament...and you know what I found there? It is God's redeemed people who sing! I got really irritated to find out that angels don't sing, but knowing this now makes everything so much more amazing...
Angels are created for a job; we are created for relationship with God. Angels are not created in the image of God; we are created in the image of God. Angels don't get redeemed when they fall; we can be redeemed when we fall.
We have something to sing about!
Here's one more observation about singing: In Zephaniah 3:17, we read this: "The Lord God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." Did you see that? God sings!
And what is it that makes God sing? When his people are redeemed from the earth! God sings over his saved ones! He sings for the same reason we sing: we are redeemed! This is why every time Israel was saved from their enemies, they sang. This is why singing is a part of Christian worship. This is why there were so many songs around the birth of Jesus. This is why Revelation is full of the songs of the redeemed!
This kind of singing has nothing to do with performance, has nothing to do with who is sitting next to you, and does not even have anything to do with how you're feeling. This kind of singing comes from deep within the spirit of the person who is made new in Christ! We sing (or speak or cry or shout or pray) in response to what God has done for us!
How can we keep from singing?