I have noticed that in any church you go, to any denomination, Christians sing different religious songs. Why are they doing this? What is the role of these songs?
I’ll try to answer that question in the light of Psalm 137.
Not for fun
After they conquered Israel, Babylonians drove the Israelites into captivity in three waves (605, 597 and 586 BC). All those who became slaves were in great despair and among them were those who had been skilled singers in the temple once. Psalm 137 belongs to them, and it begins so:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying, ”Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” (Psalm 137:1-3)(NASB)
In their great sorrow, oppressors asked them to sing the same songs they had sung another time to entertain them and maybe to mock even more of them. But that was not the mission of the holy songs, and therefore the author wonders:
How can we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:4)(NASB)
Songs are worship to God
At the beginning of Psalm 137 we find these singers in a desperate state so that their harps were hung in the willows and they sat down to weep thinking about the greatness of Zion. The mockery of oppressors added even more to their pain. But, at some point, they have turned their eyes to God and took a decision:
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy. (Psalm 137:5-6)(NASB)
These sacred hymns led them to the worship that made them experience the “chief joy” as they said.
Circumstances have not changed, but their way of looking at things, their attitude changed and this made them praise God and sing songs to experience the “chief joy” during their great trouble.
What is the role of Christian songs for you?
Translated by Felicia Rotaru