Well known for contemporary hymns such as In Christ Alone, Gethsemane Hymn, and Speak, O Lord, Keith Getty and his wife Kristyn embark on a new journey together as they deliver their authorship to a new book, SING! It seems as though much of their journey in music has led them to this point.
While most of our work has been musical–singing and playing–over the years we have gradually found ourselves talking more and more about singing. Not up-front singing, but whole-church singing–congregational singing…because as Christians we think this is something about
which we need to talk. (pp. xix-xx)
The book is a quick read and I completed it in 2 days. Maybe that is ambitious, or maybe it was because I didn’t feel as if I could put it down–I truly wanted to hear their thoughts on singing ( why wouldn’t I–after meeting both of them in Louisville, KY this year, I knew their brains are filled with a plethora of knowledge, musically and in leading worship). However, it seems that the intent in the design of the book is that it would be used in a smaller group setting and be completed over 6 weeks (with ample time dedicated to discussion). After reading it, I would desire that every member of my congregation would read it, study it, discuss it, and practice it (oh, if I only had the resources by which to purchase it for everyone).
It is hard to find a great quality book, but this little hardback fits the bill (so many people are moving toward electronic copies of book, but call me, “old-fashioned” I still enjoy holding the book–I digress). The layout of the book is fairly straightforward (chapters 1-3 answer theologically why, how, and when we should sing//the remaining 4 chapters give us realistic, practical applications and illustrations for singing//and the “bonus materials” are great resources for pastors, worship leaders, church musicians and songwriters). The book concludes with great bonus materials can be used best if reading in a group of church leaders and desiring to make the local church a more vibrant, singing church.
The highlight that stood out to me is Chapter 5: Sing…with your family. I have already written about Family Worship and I believe that it is as important as anything we do together as families. The Gettys do a great job of explaining why we should take this aspect of singing in “our” homes so serious, and they conclude the chapter by giving 10 applications that are doable by any family with any talent level (i.e. “Teach your kids songs you want them to grow old with.”). They even include making lists of these songs, putting them on a playlist and playing them in the car, around the home, and on trips.
Another enjoyable moment in the book is when Keith and Kristyn talk about the fact that our congregational singing serves as witness to those around us. Yes, it is glorifying to God, but it is also evangelical in its presentation and approach:
Our churches are not just places where we are equipped and exhorted to witness to our neighbors who don’t know Christ. Our churches are places that themselves bear witness…when we sing, we witness to the people in our church who are yet to believe–to the unsaved spouse, the cynical teen, the intrigued friend…the sight and sound of a congregation singing praises to God together is a radical witness in a culture the rejects God and embraces individualism. Our songs are the public manifesto of what we believe. (pp. 86-87)
This is a must-have in the libraries of every Christian and all pastors, not just worship leaders and musicians. After reading it and truthfully pondering the questions at the end of each chapter you will walk away with a new love of congregational singing; you will sing louder, with more vibrancy and deeper conviction than ever before! I must concur with the words of author Paul David Tripp,
I know of no book that does what the Getty’s book on congregational singing does. It is informative, convicting, and motivating and every pastor and every serious Christian should read it.