Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: Sing

Sing!: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church. Keith and Kristyn Getty. 2017. B&H Books. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: We are a singing people because it is how God has created us. It’s what we do. And when we do, we’re simply joining in with what the rest of creation is doing.

It's September. The year isn't over yet. But I'm thinking Sing! may be my favorite book of the year. We'll see. What is it about? Why should you read it? Why should you read it with others? I hope to do the book justice and answer your questions.

Intended Audience: Any believer. Also: Pastors. Elders. Worship Leaders. Band Musicians. Fathers and mothers. Sunday school teachers. Song writers. Anyone who has ever suffered at any time. Anyone who has ever struggled with depression at any time. Anyone who wants to be happy.

What is it about? It's about singing. It's about congregational singing in local churches. It's about singing at home with our families. It's about individual and corporate singing. Chances are you haven't thought of singing as a spiritual discipline. Yet IT IS. So just as you'd read a book about how to pray or how to read the Bible, the Gettys have given us a book on how to sing.

Why was it written? The Gettys' five point aim in writing Sing!
1. To discover why we sing and the overwhelming joy and holy privilege that comes with singing.
2. To consider how singing impacts our hearts and minds and all of our lives.
3. To cultivate a culture of family singing in our daily home life.
4. To equip our churches for wholeheartedly singing to the Lord and one another as an expression of unity.
5. To inspire us to see congregational singing as a radical witness to the world.
Why should you read it? God designed us to sing praises. Singing praise to the Lord is one of God's ultimate purposes for our lives. Singing is so intimately connected with joy; we are to delight in the Lord and find our satisfaction, our happiness IN HIM.

What did I love about it? I loved, loved, loved everything about this one. I thought it was packed with truth and insight. I thought it was biblical. I thought the authors were persuasive. I loved the passion and enthusiasm. I loved the organization and layout. I loved how practical it was. Also how concise the book was. And I really LOVED the discussion questions. There's also four additional bonus tracks--chapters.

Some of my favorite discussion questions:
1. How has singing played a role in your spiritual development?
2. Can you recall an example of a memorable occasion where you enjoyed singing in church? What about that event made an impact on you?
3. What is the link between thankfulness and singing?
4. What psalm or other Scripture passage resonates with you as your “Song of Salvation”? Why?
5. What song would you consider to be your personal “testimony” song?
6. Is there a hymn, or hymns, from your past that acts as a “milestone marker” for your walk with Christ? Why is it still significant and how does it speak to your heart today?
7. What modern song (new to you in the past few years) has connected with you in such a way that you believe it may become a “milestone” hymn for you in the future?
8. If you grew up in a Christian home, what songs from your childhood do you most remember? What hymns do you know? What Bible verses and stories do you know because of songs? What hymns do you want to pass down to your children?
9. If I were a visitor to your church and knew nothing of the gospel, what would your church music (selections, presentation, and congregational engagement) convey to me about your faith and understanding of the gospel?
10. Do your favorite songs that you love to sing give a broad and deep picture of the character and nature of God? Can the same be said of how we think about God and how we pray to Him? 
The book wasn't just about singing in church--at church. It was about singing seven days a week and really living out what you're singing.
Favorite quotes:

  • We are commanded to sing the Word of God—the truth revealed in the Scriptures, the story of redemption. Fundamentally, we’re to sing about God, revealed in Christ and supremely in His suffering and His glory, since that’s what the Word of God is all about (Luke 24:26–27).
  • The songs we sing should not brush along the surface, or pluck phrases out of context, or focus exclusively on ourselves, or describe Jesus in a way His Word does not (or, still worse, to speak in contradiction to His Word). Every part of a lyric should link together to bring a wonderful, thoughtful, deep expression of Scripture to every singer. 
  • Worship comes as a response to revelation. Praise is prompted by—compelled by—the revelation of something glorious. And the gospel is the revelation of the most glorious truth in history. 
  • Singing gives voice to a heart that deeply knows the gospel of grace. It is the overflow of a heart captivated by the gospel. In as many voices that join together to sing there are as many hearts that are called to know Christ as Lord and Savior. From that place there is a genuine and rich overflow of praise.
  • People say you are what you eat. Well, songs are food for the soul. What you sing, and don’t sing, changes you. Your heart and mind require a good, balanced diet of gospel truth that will build you up for your working week, your times of trial, and for each season of life.
  • If we are to be prepared to live for Christ in the whole of life, we need to be singing about the whole of life.
  • If our songs are not giving us a balanced, rich, nutritious diet, we will not be spiritually healthy people. 
  • Our singing can prepare us for every season of life, and sustain us through every season of life. We don’t need a musical escape from our lives; we need to gaze on the Savior of our lives—our refuge and help and comfort. 
  • We need to make singing Bible truths second nature to our children, a “second language” in our homes. Sing about those truths when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. Sing with your kids as you put them to bed at night, or you sit down for dinner, or as you drive in the car with a CD on. Sooner or later, they’ll start singing unprompted. Join in with them.
  • Songs help us train children in the “language” of the Christian faith. What we want to teach our kids travels deeper inside them when we sing it rather than only speak it to them. 
  • While our faith must be taught, it is also “caught” in our homes, through what our kids see and hear from us. And singing is catchy. So sing with your kids. You don’t need to be able to sing well. Our singing always remains more important than the sound it makes.  
  •  There may never be a perfect day to start singing truths with your kids. But there is today. They are not too old. They are not too young—we have been surprised that even our two-year-old knows several songs well.
  • Our singing casts a light after we are gone. We each bear responsibility in the singing legacy we leave behind us. We should sing with a mind toward those younger than us who are listening in and learning from us.
  • Someone took the time to share hymns of faith with us and we are to be faithful in doing the same. 
  • As you stand and sing in your church this Sunday, you do not know who is listening, and you can never imagine what the Lord might be doing. 
  • As you wake each day, and as you walk through your day, we pray that the lyrics and melodies of your faith will ring around the spaces where you live your life.  

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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