Why We Don’t Sing

PRAISE: Why we don’t sing.


Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.

~James 5:13


I want us to look at several translations of our text:

  • KJV–Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
  • NASB–Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.
  • NIV-Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
  • NRSV-Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
  • CEV- If you are having trouble, you should pray. And if you are feeling good, you should sing praises.

The two key words in the Greek are kakopatheō [to endure hardship] and euthymeō [to put into good spirits, to cheer up, make happy]. You will note it is the root word for enthusiasm. Just as it is natural to pray during times of affliction and trouble; we should sing to express our joy and enthusiasm.

James 5:13 raises two issues in the modern church, at least the Western church. [1] PRAYER meeting have grown increasingly unpopular in the later days. So when it comes to grabbing the horns of the altar, we aren’t doing so well. The NT Church was a praying church. Do you think we are a praying church? [2] The second issue is PRAISE. Are we a singing church? You may not know it but congregational singing is a problem in the United States and Western Europe. People are singing with enthusiasm and joy.

This got me to thinking and so I went on line and was shocked to fine articles everywhere on this subject. I thought it was a DBC problem but it stretches far beyond DBC. After reading a dozen or more articles; I came up with TEN REASONS we don’t sing.

  1. NO PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. In the grand old hymn, “We Marching To Zion” [Place of worship] Isaac Watts penned these words, “Let those refuse to sing who never knew our God but children of the Heavenly King may speak their joys abroad.”
  2. MOTIVATION is huge. We have a lot of carnal or immature Christians.  We refuse to sing because we either don’t like the song, or the music, or the worship leader. We are trying to worship music instead of the One who created music. We get all caught up in what we want and lose sight of what would please Christ. Worship has absolutely nothing to do with me or you or our taste. You have missed the entire point. [Some had this as #1]
  3. FAMILIARITY with the music or song. This was on every list I found and I have to agree that it makes a huge difference. New music should be introduced through the choir and or other vocalist but not as a congregation song. We can’t sing it if we don’t know it.
  4. SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS: Singing makes us feel vulnerable and very few are mature enough to risk vulnerability. I have the front pew all to myself: no one sits by me because no one wants to but we have plenty of space so it is not a problem. I am not going to stop singing because I have a horrible voice. People make fun of me in public but I have no quit singing. My singing doesn’t offend Jesus and He is the One I am singing to and for–we have to get over ourselves. If you have a professional voice, you may be singing to the wrong audience.
  5. PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO SING. Some people don’t sing anywhere because they don’t like to sing. They will not sing if we send them to Sing Sing, the correctional facility in New York. They had rather be incarcerated than to sing, even if they are in Sing Sing.
  6. ATMOSPHERE: You can’t grow tomatoes on the North Pole. If the spirit and the people are cold, it hard to find a song that will break through the ice. No Worship Leader can get backsliders to sing.
  7. CONGREGATING: If our sanctuary extended for a mile, we would have folks on the back row. We avoid sitting up front or close and it hinders our singing. We are too spread out.
  8. BACKGROUND MUSIC: Tapes, band or instrument too loud. Most people are not going to make any effort to compete with a machine. If we play “drown out” with the musical equipment, we win. The congregation will shut down.
  9. NOSTALGIA: So many my age are dreaming about the way things were when we were growing up. We are rebelling against the changing culture. Give it some thought: our rebellion and pouting in church will not effect the dramatic changes that are taking place. We have to live in the present. Things are never going to be the way they were: face up, grow up, and man up.
  10. LEADERSHIP: Are they excited? Are they engaged? Are they connecting with the congregation and that includes the youth?

Very interesting TOP TEN but I would like to make some personal observations as to why don’t sing.

  1. We don’t put singing in the context of Worship. It is one of the highest forms of praise, but we don’t seem to have any enthusiasm when it comes to praise. When you understand that singing is worship, it changes your entire perspective. The biggest change in singing from my childhood until now is “Professionalism.” We don’t encourage people who can’t sing to sing. We encourage those who can bless us or in some cases entertain us but it is not about us. I can’t sing professionally. My tone quality is horrible and I miss notes right and left but I sing because I am singing to an audience of ONE. Professional tend to sing to the audience. Worship is not about praising or pleasing the audience.
  2. We are too easily distracted. We are not focused. We get side tracked by styles, rhythms, beat, loud, soft, traditional, contemporary. It is almost to the point that we want to singing to be directed toward us. What do I want? What do I like?
  3. We are spoiled: affluence has made us soft and selfish.
    • We can’t appreciate victory because we haven’t been engaged in battle.
    • We can’t appreciate light until we can caught in the darkness.
    • The flip side of joy is sorrow and we known little sorrow.
    • The early church was persecuted yet they sang: we haven’t been persecuted. Some years ago, I attended a VOICE OF THE MARTYRS conference in Huntsville. A pastor from North Korea spoke. He said the most shocking thing about the Western church is that we don’t sing.
    • Most blessed nation in history and we don’t sing.
  4. We don’t understand that the world is watching. The word euthymeō  [cheer, enthusiasm] is used only three time in N.T. Luke uses it twice in ACTS. Paul on trail before Felix and Paul on board the sinking ship. In both cases, Paul displayed euthymeō . What a witness for Jesus. They say the Nightingale sings its best music in the darkest part of the night. This is what impressed the Romans, Christians singing as they were being fed to lions. No one in the pagan world could explain why Christians sing in the darkness.


I Peter 3:12 reads, The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil. Psalm 30:5, Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

We have a great Savior, a great salvation and a great future: why shouldn’t we sing? Better still, how can we not sing? As Dr. Vance Havner once said, “We are witnessing a miracle in reverse: the same gospel that once made men shout is now putting men to sleep.” We are unexcited about Jesus–that is a miracle in reverse.