By Eugene Seah, 23, Singapore
“Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy.” —Psalm 33:3 (NIV)
Have you ever felt nervous during praise and worship?
As unbelievable as it may sound, my answer is “Yes.” When I was a teenager, I would break into cold sweat during praise and worship time. Also, because I have sweaty palms, my palms would be so wet that it would seem like I have just washed my hands without drying them. I am not kidding you.
Why would this happen you ask? Well, I was worried about being in tune, staying in key and all sorts of other concerns. It sure didn’t help matters when my friends and family pointed out my flaws, well intentioned of course but it confirmed my worries and anxieties!
Even so, I couldn’t stop singing. And when I discovered the meaning, comfort and relevance in the lyrics of the praise songs, I sang even more! I prayed that one day I would be able to sing confidently in the congregation, without breaking into cold sweat whatsoever.
Years on, by God’s immense grace, I am a back up vocalist in my home church’s worship team. Now, in a church in Australia where I am studying, I serve alongside professional musicians and vocalists in the worship team as well. I am humbled to say the least. For a person who cannot play any musical instruments nor harmonize a song, I count it a great privilege to serve in the worship team.
After years of being a backup vocalist, one day it struck me that there is something even more difficult than singing in tune—and that is to mean every single word I sing. You must be thinking, “Well, obviously that would be most important, you’re in the worship team!”
It dawned on me that a person may have the most powerful voice, best speaker systems on the market or perfect musicality, but ultimately, these don’t matter! What matters is the music and voice that comes from our hearts. Does what we sing resonate with the way we desire to live?
As we sing songs that proclaim His awesomeness (such as “All of My Days” by Hillsongs), do we strive to live out the lyrics? Are they mere fleeting feelings that fade off along with the music? Do these words come from our moments of spiritual “highs” or do they reflect our hearts’ desire? Let’s remember that God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:9) and not the outward appearance.
How about songs which speak of surrendering all to the Lord such as in the hymn “I Surrender All” by Judson W. Van de Venter & Winfield S. Weeden? There were times when I am guilty of mouthing the words, while holding tightly to my cares and dreams, trusting in myself rather than in His sovereignty.
The list can go on and on. Well, it doesn’t mean that without a perfect life to show it, one can’t sing those songs. Rather, we need to come before our heavenly Father in worship with a contrite heart that desires and is willing to be changed by Him and for Him.
May we sing unto Him with more than music and words, but in spirit and in truth.
“True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth,
for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
– John 4:23-24 (NIV)
Seek. Learn. Sing.