Keith and Kristyn Getty, Sing! How Worship Transforms your Life, Family and Church, Nashville TN: B&H Books, 2017. 176 pages hardback.
ISBN: 9781462742660. Not yet in Public Libraries.
Online $15 second-hand, $17 new. (My second-hand copy in new condition cost $7)
Reviewed by Ted Witham
What an encouragement to be told that Christians must sing: for the Gettys, congregational singing is both privilege and obligation. They point to many places in the Bible where we are commanded to sing, and, while conceding a place in worship for song as performance, their focus in Sing! is on the central place of congregational singing.
The Gettys make a living from writing and performing songs and encouraging the Body of Christ in music. Many of us have sung their In Christ Alone, an example of a singable melody and strong Biblical content. The chapter headings of Sing! assert that we are created to sing, commanded to sing and compelled to sing. We are to sing with heart and mind, with our family and with our local church. They write of the radical witness when congregations sing, and in a series of ‘bonus tracks’ provide checklists for pastors and elders, for worship and song leaders, for musicians and for songwriters and ‘creatives’.
Each chapter is followed by questions for reflection or discussion in a study group. Sing! would work well as a book club discussion, or a study for the whole congregation.
Sing! invites Christians to consider the first principles of congregational singing. It critiques performances that do not help the congregation to sing. The Gettys affirm the wisdom of a familiar repertoire, limiting the number of new songs and hymns.
In many congregations the idea that singing is compulsory will be controversial. As a musician and priest, however, I am pleased that the case for singing is put so strongly. How much stronger in faith singing congregations can be. How much stronger in faith are families and individuals who sing or listen to the songs and hymns they have sung in church on Sunday. And how much joy is evoked by the beauty and artistry of good music and poetry.
Sing! is not primarily for pastors and worship leaders. They don’t need convincing. A resource for all Christians Sing! will encourage all of us to sing more heartily.