Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! ~ Psalm 95:1-2
This weekend at church I had a very unusual experience.
I actually heard the voice of a fellow congregant singing behind me. His voice was loud enough to rise above the booming band and he was a perfectly terrible singer. He was off-key and rigid in tone and the sheer volume of his voice sent shivers down my spine. He even valiantly attempted to harmonise at one point but didn’t quit accomplish the brave task.
Yes, it was all a little humorous at first. I would be lying if I said I didn’t giggle to myself a bit. But eventually I got use to him. And then, surprisingly, I thanked God for him.
Hearing the congregation sing is uncommon for me because my church has a concert-style of worship that is accompanied with pumping speakers which echo into our acoustically challenged warehouse church. This is common in church’s today, but it doesn’t lend itself well to hearing the voices around you.
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing unfaithful with this style of worship. It certainly isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is sinful.
However there is something fantastical about actually hearing the voices of the saints lifting up the name of Christ. Even poor-sounding voices. Even grandma Mary two rows back with her methodical and wiggly singing that harkens back to the hymnal era. Even Lonny the retired worship leader who sings like he’s on stage because at one time he was and so his praises are comparable to a lounge singer. And even the man behind me who couldn’t hit a correct note no matter how hard he tried.
Some might say that it was harmful for me to hear the man behind me because it clearly distracted me. And that’s true. But his off-key melodies were distracting for all of two minutes and then he helped me worship better. Because after that humorous two minutes passed, I recognized the unity we had. I remembered I’m not alone. And then I was inclined to belt out my praises with more vigor and thankfulness.
Truth be told, I get distracted in worship for far sillier reasons. This one may have been the best short-lived distraction yet.
When our worship is sincere we all sound like Andrea Bocelli to Jesus. No matter how feeble our voices are, God receives the offering. Sometimes (if not, always) we need to hear each other sing. Sometimes it infuses our worship. Even when we sound terrible.
I thank God for gifted musicians who get on stage and lead us fickle folks into worship. And I also thank God for the many voices…many souls…who sing whole-heartedly, despite their musical weakness’.
Because it truly is a joyful noise.