There is confusion in many congregations as to how music is to be used in the services of the church. Too often it becomes one of three things:

1) Congregational singing is an empty ritual--we sing because that's what we're supposed to do in church. In some church services you can even predict where hymns will go, and which ones we will stand to sing. It is a form we follow.

2) It becomes a tool for emotional manipulation, to generate excitement or other feelings. Things such as a fast-paced songs, bouncy beat, or endless repetition are often a clue. The service leader is trying to create an emotional response.

3) It is used for mere entertainment. This has to do more with platform performance than with congregatonal singing, but it is another abuse. Instead of music being tuned to please the heart of God (the real Audience) it is geared to tickling the ears of human listeners.

Psalm 28:7 expresses well the place that music is to have in praise and worship. It is not for stirring up feelings from the outside, but for expressing what is already in the heart. Notice the clear progression.

1) A Basic Truth. “The Lord is my strength and shield...”

2) The Truth Believed. “My heart trusted in Him...”

3) Faith Verified. “And I am helped...”

4) The Inward Response. “Therefore my heart greatly rejoices.”

5) The Outward Expression. “And with my song I will praise Him.”

The expression of praise is not driven by outward forces, but is a natural expression of a praise-filled heart. If this pattern is followed, hymn singing will mean more to participants, and it will delight the heart of God.