Singing Religious Songs

Text: Colossians 3:16-17

Generally, people enjoy music, including the singing that we do in worship. It is also natural for singing to stir up emotions. There is nothing wrong with singing stirring up emotions, as long as it does not turn into emotionalism. But because singing is enjoyable and emotional, we must be especially careful to follow the NT pattern. There is a temptation to be loose with regard to Bible authority because of the enjoyment and emotions that come from singing. So in this lesson, we will try to carefully examine what the Scriptures say about our singing of religious songs.

What to Sing

  • Psalms – word (psallo) literally means striking the chords of a musical instrument [more on this point later]; sacred songs directed to God
  • Hymns – songs in praise of God
  • Spiritual songs – songs about spiritual things; instructive
  • If a song does not fit into at least one of these categories, it does not belong in our worship

Purpose of Singing

  • To praise God – “singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16); God is worthy of such praise (Revelation 4:11; 5:8-10)
  • To teach one another – “teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16); we need the type of encouragement that this instruction provides (Hebrews 10:24-25)

How it is to be Done

  • Reciprocal – to one another (Ephesians 5:19)
  • In or out of the assembly (1 Corinthians 14:26; Acts 16:25)
  • Focus on the lyrics – the content is what makes them psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs; test them to see if they are Scriptural
  • In spirit and truth (John 4:24)

Not to Sing…

  • With instruments – the “instrument” that we play (psalm, psallo) is the heart (Ephesians 5:19), not a piano; vocal singing is specified as the type of music God expects us to use; therefore, every other type of music (including instrumental) is excluded (cf. Hebrews 7:14)
  • With choirs, duets, soloists, etc. – singing is “to one another” (Ephesians 5:19); reciprocal; meant to be done together, not by some while others listen
  • For entertainment – not to say that we cannot enjoy singing; but remember the purpose (to praise God and teach one another); not to entertain
  • For evangelism – some brethren are using singing as an evangelistic tool; Paul and Silas sang in prison while others happened to be listening, but the only convert was asleep when they were singing (Acts 16:25-33); evangelism is not done by performing songs, but by preaching the gospel (Mark 16:15; Acts 17:2-4, 16-18)


  • Singing is an enjoyable and emotionally stirring part of our worship
  • But we must not let ourselves become careless – carefully follow the pattern (2 Timothy 1:13)

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