Sing. Play. Edify.

Book Review: “Sing!”

September 8, 2017

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Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church
Keith Getty and Kristyn Getty
B&H Books, 2017; 176 pages


I have two initial confessions to make. The first is that I have immense respect and appreciation for the Gettys. Their impact on congregational singing in evangelicalism is incalculable. Our church regularly sings more than a dozen of their songs, and we do so because they are theologically and musically excellent.

My second confession is that when I heard of this book, I was skeptical. If this seems contradictory, it’s because the modern church has gleaned much of its theology from musicians instead of pastors, often with lamentable results. It’s obvious from the theological richness of their hymns that the Gettys are deep and careful in regards to doctrine, but I found myself wondering whether such a book was equal to its authors’ musical reputation. That is to say, success as a musician doesn’t necessarily mean someone should write a book— especially a book that touches on such a weighty subject as the doxology of the church. And I wondered if this book was born out of the authors’ deeply-held convictions, or merely the product of Nashville marketing.

I’m happy to report my fears were entirely unfounded. In fact, barely five pages into my first reading, I felt rather sheepish. What this book seeks to do, it does very well. It’s not scholarly or exhaustive, but it’s not intended to be. It’s a simple, winsome handbook to compel congregations to sing, and to that end, it shines.

I won’t summarize the book here, as it’s an easy afternoon read. But the Gettys lay out a solid, encouraging case for establishing a vibrant culture of congregational singing. As a music minister, I found myself nodding in agreement throughout the book. Nearly every page is filled with helpful, direct, compelling reasons why singing matters to the church. It’s as if Keith and Kristyn have compiled all the exhortations I’ve ever given to believers who struggled with reticence or indifference towards congregational singing, but they’ve said it more eloquently and succinctly than I could have.

My only point of disagreement was the implied relationship between “worship” and “music”; at times the two terms were used interchangeably. Words matter. In this case, it’s an unhelpful conflation, one that has profound implications for our understanding of the role of music in the corporate assembly. The authors do address the matter of whole-life worship briefly in chapter seven, but the confusion of terms remains. Music is a part of worship, but the two are not at all synonymous, and this is an essential point of clarity that church leaders should not surrender to the music industry.

But this is a minor disagreement in an otherwise excellent defense of congregational singing. If all believers are singers (and they are), this short volume is required reading for the whole church.


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