“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name” Psalm 30:4
Lutherans have been called “the singing church” and it’s true. I can’t imagine worship without singing. One visitor to our church told me, “you have a lot of audience participation!” Well, we’re not meant to be an audience because worship isn’t a performance and yes, it’s all about participation. The word liturgy literally means “work of the people.” Songs of praise are part of that work, and it’s a privilege and joy to worship the One who loves and saves us.
The Bible is full of saints who sang. There was David, of course, author of many of the Psalms (the hymn book of the Old Testament). Miriam sang after the people crossed the Red Sea, and Deborah sang a victory after defeating the Canaanites. Mary sang after her meeting with the angel who announced the birth of God’s son, and Simeon sang after seeing that same babe who had been promised.
There are many reasons saints sing, but most often their songs flow out of the joy and happiness of life with God. One Christian song that comes to my mind as I write this is His Eye Is On the Sparrow. Here’s the story of how that hymn by Civilla Martin came to be written:
“Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheelchair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s response was simple: ‘His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.’ The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’ was the outcome of that experience.”
The next day she mailed the poem to composer, Charles Gabriel, who wrote the tune for it. Sing along with this beautiful piece because you’re happy to be a child of the King.