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Sing for Joy

Sing for Joy

Product Review (submitted on 2 March 2012):

Sing for Joy, Matthias Media 2010. Available from:

I confess that I can’t sing. What’s worse, I failed when a skilful music director tried to train me to sing somewhere near on-pitch (‘stand at the back and mime’ was the last ruthless word when I was pressed-ganged into a ministry leaders’ choir).

However, I love the musical part of church gatherings and think it a taste of heaven to stand with a large number of God’s people and sing songs of admiration, thanks, praise, encouragement, dedication and similar. As a preacher, I am often lifted to a pulpit-ready high by music that has been chosen to mesh with the service theme and which is well presented.

Music and singing also have a dark side. They readily promote conflict in churches and are often the front line of the worship wars as the battle over psalms, hymns and spiritual songs reaches new depths of dischord. Singing in church is also a topic when Bible-driven thinking is often replaced by the imposition of personal opinions, sloppy sentimentalism or mainly musical values.

Sing for Joy is a series of six small group topical studies designed to help careful thought about singing in church. Each study includes sections of Bible text; questions to help probe the Bible; supplementary notes to give background and related comment; questions to help tease out the implications; and suggestions for prayer.

This is a great help to help think Biblically about singing in church and it joins some other resources that cover the same field. As a study book, Sing for Joy should help people go a step further. We often only talk about these matters in the setting of an argument or when trying to take a decision. This study book could enable a calm discussion that can help avoid arguments and inform better decisions.

These studies could be well used as a filler series by small groups, or when a church is about to change its musical repertoire. Likewise, they could form the base of a good in-house learning programme for members of choirs and worship committees.

(David Burke has been singing in church for many decades and values those who are ruthless in the pursuit of excellence in church music.)


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