The Reformed Heritage of Congregational Singing

Have you ever been in an argument where you were debating choir versus congregational singing? Did you know what to say? Do you know where that whole idea of choir singing stems from and that our fathers fought against this practice? Congregational singing is one of the many issues that the men of the reformation stood for. Singing was very important to our church fathers. It was important to Calvin, Luther, and all the rest. They recognized the dangers of having a choir sing in the place of congregational singing.

There was much corruption in the church at the time of the Reformation. The church was as apostate as it could get and there were only a handful of believers and those who stood for and fought for the truth. Even fewer were willing to die for the truth. Multitudes of people went to church for nothing more than a show. They listened to the wonderful sounds of the choir and the eloquent words of the preacher. Worship had become more and more passive.

What a sad thing. We should be thankful that we have congregational singing. We as a body with Christ as our head are able to proclaim His praise together. We are able to cry out together in misery of sin and ask for deliverance. As a body! It is an interesting thought indeed. This is what our church fathers fought for. They recognized the detriment of having a choir. They saw how the church got lazy when the choir took singing away from the people. They recognized how the body of Christ needed to praise God together. As a whole!

Congregational singing is important because in this way we can praise and magnify the Lord together as a whole. What could be more joyful for Him to hear than the hearts of His people singing out to Him? God does not care how good the most wonderful choir may sound. God only cares about that which is sung for total and complete praise from the hearts of believers.

We, still having the old man of sin in us, still lean towards passive worship. The choirs and the special numbers are nice and they have their place but not in the congregation of Christ.

Our church fathers fought against choir singing. They didn’t want this because the body of Christ was to worship as a body and they also realized that the church people had a tendency to grow lazy and feel inadequate to sing when the choir had complete control of the “floor.” May we never get to this point. Pray that our churches hold to the truth and that He always leads us to the light. So that even when all the churches surrounding us are having choirs, we don’t give in to that pressure, that we as a whole body of Christ may sing together, which is what our fathers fought for.

“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). This verse speaks it all…how the whole church as one body is able to lift up his voice in harmony to God…for unity in the members.