Why Sing Psalms?

Often when I introduce fellow Christians to psalm singing for the first time, their response is “What a great idea!” The psalms contain some of the most beloved passages in the entire Bible.  Likewise, music is a form of expression so instinctive it’s considered “the universal language.”

However, too often initial interest is dampened by various difficulties.  The lyrics of the psalms may seem too foreign, too confusing, or too difficult to accept.  The psalms don’t naturally fit our familiar musical mold.  Many of us don’t know any psalm tunes, since they’re not regularly sung in church.  Worship leaders may be unaware of the available resources, or don’t have enough time and opportunity to learn and introduce new music.

God’s Command

The most compelling reason to sing the psalms comes from God Himself.  Twice in the New Testament he commands us to sing the psalms (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16).

Over the last century, this command has been sidelined as the church has focused its attention on other cultural and theological issues.  Now, in 21st century America, not only do we lack the proper tools to sing the psalms, we lack the proper perspective.  It’s all too easy to overlook those few short verses without even realizing it.

For Our Good and His Glory

Since God has commanded us to sing the psalms, we need no further recommendation.  However, God in his graciousness has also made clear practical benefits.  Singing the psalms uniquely aids us in many ways, including but not limited to:

  • Memorizing and meditating on God’s infallible and effectual Word
  • Knowing Jesus more fully (Read Singing the Songs of Jesus for an eye-opening take on this subject)
  • Internalizing and applying theological concepts in our daily lives
  • Familiarizing ourselves with a broader variety and depth of Biblical topics
  • Reminding us that we exist in a community as well as individuals
  • Teaching us how we ought to pray and giving us words when we have none

A Matter of the Heart

During a difficult time, a few years ago, I found great comfort in the hymn “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.” As a result, that hymn is more than just another song to me; it is a part of my story.  But I have realized that a choice lies before me.  Will I be content with the songs I already know and love, or will I do the hard work to learn the songs that God himself inspired for his people? Do I believe that God’s words in the psalms are so good, so powerful, and so beautiful, that I will commit to the time and effort it takes me to learn to sing these words?

I want to fall more and more in love with singing psalms. I want the melody of Psalm 23 to be with me during my next trial. I want the music of Psalm 103 to lift my heart up to God in joyful praise. I want to see my Savior on the cross by singing Psalm 22. But not just these; I want to do this 150 times over! And I have confidence that if I do, the treasures of God’s songs will prove themselves to be far richer than I have even begun to imagine.

Will you join me in this commitment?  If you need help getting started, I would genuinely love to hear from you – there’s nothing that makes me happier than helping people sing the psalms. It may seem hard, awkward, and even dull at times. But if we persevere, I am confident we will not be disappointed. Choose to sing the psalms!


Emily Moore