Why Sing Harmony?

by Kristen Gilles

in Worship Leading

Harmony sign to illustrate the importance of singing harmony in church worship servicesMore often than not, when we worship through singing in our gathered congregations we are accompanied by musicians that are playing chords—harmonies—on their instruments. This makes for a fuller, more enjoyable sound (as opposed to one instrument banging out a simple melody line for every song—think of a toy piano).  Our voices are instruments too. We have the potential and the opportunity to witness our harmony — our agreement in Christ to each other — as we blend differing vocal tones in beautiful harmonies that resonate in our ears and hearts.

When we sing harmonies together as we gather to worship our saving God, we’re not just filling out sound space, but we’re lending our voices in agreement with what we’re singing.  The word harmony means agreement and accord; harmonious relations. It signifies that we are united in our purpose and thought. We aren’t just singing mindlessly; we’re thoughtfully agreeing with each other regarding the words we’re singing.

It may seem that we’d be in greater agreement if we just sang one melodious note in unison. However, the nature of harmonies is to blend multiple notes in such a way that a more pleasant and robust-sounding chord is created.  As such, singing harmonies together is an important practice for the congregations of our churches.  It helps us to express our agreement—our unified faith in Christ—with each other as we simultaneously combine different tones that blend into pleasant-sounding chords.

If you remember that we are the body of Christ comprised of many different, necessary members, then lending our varied voices in sung harmonies is also a natural, beautiful way we can paint a picture of our unified life in Christ. He has made us one together in Him.  We are built up together into Christ who is the Head over the church (the body).

Another definition of harmony is “an arrangement of the contents of the Gospels, either of all four or of the first three, designed to show their parallelism, mutual relations, and differences.” So, if you think of the Gospels as being in harmony (agreement) with each other (forming a more beautiful-sounding chord together), then our singing of harmonies also illustrates this beautiful aspect of the Scripture.

Although it is a powerful sound we make when our voices are singing one melody together, it’s a more powerful, grand sound we make when we blend our voices in varying tones that agree with each other and form a beautiful chord.  As vocalists who lead our singing congregations, we should practice and excellently sing harmonies as an example and aid to our brothers and sisters.  And we should do so with our hearts and ears tuned to the Spirit at work in and among us as we remember and celebrate our union in Christ as members of His body, and our agreement with the harmonious Scriptures that declare the Gospel of Grace by which we’re saved through faith.

har·mo·ny   /ˈhɑrməni/ Show Spelled[hahr-muh-nee] Show IPA

noun, plural har·mo·nies.

1. agreement; accord; harmonious relations.

2. a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity.

3. Music .

a. any simultaneous combination of tones.

b. the simultaneous combination of tones, especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, as distinguished from melody and rhythm.

c. the science of the structure, relations, and practical combination of chords.

4. an arrangement of the contents of the Gospels, either of all four or of the first three, designed to show their parallelism, mutual relations, and differences.

Photo above by Michael Hashizume, used via creative commons license

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