Today we most commonly think of an “audience” as a group of people who encounter some kind of show, especially on radio or television. Because of this association, when the word is introduced into a discussion of church music, it can conjure images of worship as entertainment, with passive spectators, theater seating under dimmed lights, and a spectacular performance onstage. This is unfortunate, for the word simply means the act of hearing, or an opportunity to be heard, as in “He was granted an audience with the king.” In this sense, worship must have an audience. All works of piety are addressed to someone: a sermon is addressed to a congregation, prayer is addressed to God, and so forth. A faithful worshipper will always be mindful of his audience and will be keen to fashion his worship to suit that audience. It is therefore ironic how, in many evangelical churches today, despite all the accusations and concerns about worship being treated as entertainment, congregational songs do not seem to have any audience whatsoever. The congregants are too engrossed in their worship experience to pay much attention to the performance of the leaders; the visual and sonic circumstances are not designed for congregants to concentrate on listening to each other; and they do not appear to be addressing God, for their words seem unsuitable to an audience with a Lord and savior (or, for that matter, with a daddy or bridegroom) such as evangelicals believe him to be.

When we say that the function of congregational song is to communicate, we do not merely mean that the words should be intelligible to the ones singing. We mean that the ones singing are saying something to someone. We believe that many problems in congregational song begin when singers misdirect their focus toward their own thoughts and feelings—looking to experience God as some kind of subjective sensation—and away from their task of addressing someone.

In the Bible there are three such “someones,” or three kinds of audiences, addressed in the music of worship. Each audience is addressed differently. Two of these kinds of address are rather straightforward and can be discussed briefly, but the third kind of address has historically presented the church with considerable challenges and will require longer explanation.

Saying Something to Ourselves

The first kind of address is reflexive. The precedent for this comes from the psalms, seven of which are addressed at least partly to the believer’s own soul. The believer exhorts himself to hope in God (Ps. 42–43; 62:5), to bless the Lord (Ps. 103–104), to return to his rest (Ps. 116:7), and to praise the Lord (Ps. 146:1). It seems likely that at least two, and perhaps all, of these psalms were intended for corporate worship: both Psalms 116 and 146 include refrains that suggest a congregational response, and Psalm 116 is part of the Hallel, which, at least by the time of Christ, was sung in the Temple at important festivals as well as in every household’s private observance of the Passover meal.[1] On this precedent build those hymns in which every member of the congregation summons himself to faithfulness and worship, as in “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” (based on Psalm 103), “Be Still, My Soul,” “Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare,” “Rise, My Soul, to Watch and Pray,” “Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness,” and “Arise, My Soul, Arise.” Given, however, the rarity of such self-address in biblical models and the concerns that many have raised through the centuries regarding the propriety of speaking to oneself in congregational worship, it seems that such hymns should not constitute a large part of a congregation’s repertoire.

Saying Something to God

The second kind of address is the most obvious. In worship we address God. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 instructs us to sing and make melody “to the Lord” and “to God.” This is not just some mental game we play, some poetic conceit, like John Keats addressing a Grecian urn or Walt Whitman addressing his dead captain. God is a real person who is really there and is really listening to sincere hearts, regardless of their emotional state. He is present everywhere, and through Christ’s priestly sacrifice and intercession we can draw near to him. Psalm 100:2 tells us to “come into his presence with singing!” Yet the behavior of many evangelicals in their congregational song suggests that they do not genuinely believe they have something to say to their sovereign, to their redeemer, or to their loving father in heaven. Nobody intentionally speaks to someone whom he loves and respects as incoherently as they do to their God. The repetition of much contemporary worship music is alone proof of its insincerity. Sane adults do not speak this way except, perhaps, to themselves. Imagine a wife who, having planned to do so ahead of time, would attempt to speak to her husband via vague utterances repeated over and over again, while all the time working herself into an ecstatic state, which she identifies as the husband’s presence. What would any husband make of such behavior? Would he consider himself loved? A godly one, we suppose, would take pity on his psychotic wife and try to teach her the necessity of genuine communication. This is precisely what God does for us in his word.

Saying Something to Each Other

The third kind of address is to one another, as Paul indicates in Ephesians 5:19. A comparison with Colossians 3:16 suggests that this mutual address is a kind of “teaching and admonishing.” Here, the phrase “with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” can qualify either “teaching and admonishing” or “singing” (see section 1, figure), but the first of these readings is the more natural, because it distributes the qualifying statements in a balanced way among the participial clauses: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, (in all wisdom) teaching and admonishing one another (by means of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs), (with thankfulness) singing (in your hearts) (to God).”[2] This reading matches the parallel passage in Ephesians 5:19. The principal objection to it seems to be a prejudice against the didactic possibilities of congregational song[3]—a prejudice that would doubtless disappear if we sang songs that were as doctrinally rich as those found in the Bible.

It is noteworthy how frequently worshippers teach and admonish one another in the Bible. If references to God in the third person indicate that somebody other than God is being addressed, then, in the Psalms, for example, verses addressed to beings other than God figure just as prominently as do verses addressed to God himself.[4] The psalmists move fluidly back and forth between addressing him and referring to him in the third person, and between addressing him and addressing fellow creatures. This suggests that they intend to sing to both simultaneously, for otherwise the transitions would be jarring. In fact, as 1 Corinthians 14 makes clear, worshippers can address God and man simultaneously.

Therefore, when evaluating any particular form of congregational song we must consider its potential as a medium by which congregants can not only lift their voices in praise to God but also in exhortation of one another. Do evangelicals sing to one another in their worship today? Can they hear one another’s voices? Do churches provide them with songs that are conducive to mutual exhortation? Perhaps a brief historical survey would be in order.

Historical Survey

Without this ideal of mutual address, as taught by Paul in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19, it is doubtful whether congregational hymn singing would ever have become a part of Christian worship. After all, if church music is merely a matter of addressing God, then it would suffice for a single voice to lead the thoughts of a silent congregation, as is done in congregational prayers. The singing of the leadership would suffice. But if we must sing to one another, then necessarily everyone must vocalize. Both Luther and Calvin alluded to Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 in their earliest extant calls for a more congregational idiom.[5] Earlier, in the long centuries prior to the invention of printing and the spread of lay literacy, Paul’s instruction was followed by having some congregants sing while everybody else responded. Ancient Jews and early Christians sang to one another in the assembly by taking turns. In the Old Testament, levitical singers sang instrumentally accompanied solos or choral numbers,[6] to which the congregation responded with short refrains.[7] The Talmud indicates that this practice continued until the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. In the synagogue, by contrast, there may or may not have been singing. The Bible, Josephus, and the Talmud are all silent on the matter.[8]

As for the first Christians, there are in the New Testament, outside the Book of Revelation, no unequivocal descriptions of congregations singing entire poems together. 1 Corinthians 14:15 and James 5:13 seem to refer to solo singing. The hymn that Jesus and his disciples sang at the conclusion of the last supper (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26) was probably a responsorial performance of the Hallel, from Psalms 113–118. According to Talmud Mishnah Pesahim, these psalms were sung both at the slaughter of the lambs in the Temple, with the Levites leading, and at the private household observance of the Passover meal, with the head of the household leading. In all likelihood Jesus sang these psalms, and the disciples responded with the “Hallelujah” refrain. Acts 4:24–26 describes the church in Jerusalem reciting Psalm 2, but most commentators understand this to be the “voice” (the Greek word is singular) of one person praying with the community as a whole.

Apart from a few references to solo singing,[9] virtually all detailed references to lay congregational singing from the second century to the fifth century describe responsorial psalmody.

Tertullian (c.170–c.225): The more exacting in their prayer are accustomed to add to their prayers an Alleluia and that sort of psalm in which those present respond with the closing verses. (De oratione 27)
Eusebius (c.260–c.340): As an individual sings in comely measure, the rest listen in silence and join in singing only the refrains of the hymns. (Ecclesiastical History II 17:22)
John Chrysostom (c.347–407): And indeed there must always be but one voice in the church, as there is but one body. Thus the reader alone speaks, and he who holds the episcopacy sits and maintains silence, and the singer sings psalms alone, and, while all respond, the sound issues as if from one mouth, and only he preaches who gives the homily. (In I Corinthios, Hom. 36:5–6)
Ambrose (c.339–397): For this is a symphony, when there resounds in the church a united concord of differing ages and abilities as if of diverse strings; the psalm is responded to, the amen is said. (Expositio euangelii secundum Lucam 7:238)
Augustine (354–430): The psalm which we have just now heard sung and responded to in singing, is short and highly beneficial. (In psalmum cxix 1)[10]

These are all examples of the song of ordinary congregations. But some of the most colorful descriptions of church music from the patristic era refer not to the laity but to the new monastic choirs that formed in the East during the fourth century. In many ways these constituted a guild of professional worshippers, analogous to the Levites in the Old Testament.

The first clear evidence for sustained, lay congregational singing anywhere in the history of God’s people dates from fourth-century Milan, where Ambrose introduced metrical Latin hymns in his congregation to combat Arianism. In his sermon against Auxentius (AD 386) he wrote:

They [Ambrose’s opponents] declare also that the people have been led astray by the strains of my hymns. I certainly do not deny it. That is a lofty strain, and there is nothing more powerful than it. For what has more power than the confession of the Trinity which is daily celebrated by the mouth of the whole people? All eagerly vie one with the other in confessing the faith, and know how to praise in verse the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So they all have become teachers, who scarcely could be disciples.[11]

The saints in Milan certainly “taught and admonished” one another in hymns. See also Augustine’s account of this in Confessions 9, which we quoted in our Introduction.

The singing of Christian congregations ended abruptly in the West with the fall of the Western half of the empire and the beginning of what have sometimes been called the Dark Ages (mid 5th century), and in the East with the Council of Laodicea’s ban on lay singing in churches (late fourth century). Church music thenceforth became the work of professionals—trained clergy and monastic choirs—while the laity was for all practical purposes silenced,[12] so that, when Protestant reformers tried to develop a culture of congregational singing in the sixteenth century, they basically had to start from scratch and faced an uphill battle. First, they had to develop a musical style suitable for many, ordinary voices to sing together and in church. Second, they had to develop a worthy repertoire of texts and tunes in that style. And finally, they had to convince people unused to singing in church to do so now. All this took time, and the pace of success varied widely from community to community. In some places, such as Strasbourg in the 1530s, Geneva in the 1540s, Joachimstal in the 1550s, and London in the 1560s, congregational singing took root and became a vital part of the religious life of the laity. Elsewhere it took several generations. Luther himself had to berate his Wittenberg congregation more than once for refusing to sing in the early years of the project.[13]

But eventually, by the eighteenth century, lay congregational singing of strophic hymns in the vernacular had become a normal part of Protestant worship everywhere. In most places, congregations found their voices gradually, only after local pastors made persistent efforts to preach the biblical obligation of all Christians to sing in church, and after a critical mass of congregants had purchased hymnbooks from which to sing. In many places, progress came when churches or singing schools provided children and adults with a rudimentary musical education. Some congregations sang well only when organs were introduced to support them. Protestant communities in Europe and North America were diverse, and different traditions faced different challenges. Where congregations could neither read hymnbooks nor rely on instrumental accompaniment for help, as in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English and American psalmody, the tempo of singing gradually decelerated over generations to extremely slow speeds of two seconds or more per note.[14] By contrast, churches with trained voices, professional choirs, ministers of music, and loud organs encountered different problems; often they produced congregants who felt no sense of responsibility for the music. It was no longer their song to sing but somebody else’s, with which they could sing along if they wished. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries countless European and American congregations realized the biblical ideal of singing that was fully congregational, doctrinally rich, poetically and musically beautiful, and wholehearted. That is, they taught and admonished one another in all wisdom as they sang with thankfulness in their hearts to God.

Joining the Praise Team’s Song

The preceding discussion has established that prior to the twentieth century there were two basic paradigms for congregational singing: what we might call “taking turns” and “singing together.” From the Old Testament until the Reformation, worshippers generally addressed one another in alternation. After the Reformation they addressed one another simultaneously in strophic hymns. In the twentieth century congregational singing underwent yet another paradigm shift, to what we might call the “sing-along” model, which led congregants to forget that they were supposed to be addressing one another. When this model was practiced in earlier centuries it was usually considered an aberration—a regrettable straying from a genuinely congregational idiom by a cultivated and professional “leadership” trying to control the song. Choirs and organs introduced in eighteenth-century England and nineteenth-century America with the purpose of leading congregational singing, if not restrained by a clear sense of that purpose, sometimes transformed psalmody and hymnody into something more choral or instrumental than congregational. Such developments tempted musicians and congregants alike to concentrate more on enjoying the music than on meaning the words.[15]

Most twentieth-century western Christians, however, came to view the “sing-along” model as the right and desirable way to sing in worship. At first it was a song-leader holding a microphone or an organ playing at high levels. More recently it has been the praise team. In either case the voice of leaders projects above, and often overpowers, the voice of the congregation, while the voices of individual worshippers are lost altogether. A typical balance, as perceived by a congregant, might be 50% praise team/band, 30% congregation as a whole, 20% one’s own voice, and 0% individual voices in one’s vicinity. The performance practice resembles that of a pop concert in which attendees sing along with their favorites.

There have been two major social forces behind this paradigm shift. The first of these was the death of folk music. Throughout history if ordinary people wanted to have music in their lives they had to make it themselves. And that they did. From children on the playground[16] to traders on the floor of the stock exchange,[17] people sang spontaneously to one another all the time. They sang the lullabies, work songs, narrative ballads, drinking songs, sea chanteys, courtship songs, military songs, patriotic songs, political songs, and religious songs that constituted an integral part of their culture. Music was, above all, a means of interpersonal communication. But that changed during the twentieth century, when mass commercial culture displaced folk culture all around the world, and ordinary people stopped speaking to one another in song. In some ways twentieth-century people found themselves surrounded by more music than ever before, but it wasn’t music that they, or anyone they knew personally, were making. Consider this observation by Dwight D. Eisenhower:

I have participated in two world wars, and there was one striking difference between the first and the second that perplexed me and made me a little sad. The American Army in the first World War was a singing army; in the second it was not. Now, I don’t mean that our American soldiers in World War II were not deeply loyal to their country, nor do I mean that they failed, in combat, to perform as well as any of their predecessors. Neither of these is true. But there was a difference in attitude. Somehow, somewhere along the way between those two wars, we had lost something.[18]

What had happened? The advent of radio had filled their lives with music, so they no longer had to make it. Eventually, singing lost its social function, and young Americans lost their singing voices. We are now several generations removed from that loss, and few of us know what we are missing. The challenge this presents to congregational singing is unique in the history of the church, for Luther and Calvin merely had to get people who were not used to singing in church to sing in church, whereas we have to get people who are not used to singing at all to sing in church—and to each other! It’s no wonder that we gravitate to the sing-along model. But the Bible calls the church to cultivate congregational singing as folk culture, in which ordinary Christians exhort one another, and it would seem that this is one of the ways in which we are called to be different from the world. Sanctified Christians communicate in song.

The second major cause of the paradigm shift is, quite simply, a change in our theology of music in worship. At some point evangelicals began to value church music not primarily for its effectiveness as a medium for praise and exhortation but for its capacity to afford the musical pleasures and emotional experiences that evangelicals associated with praise. With these new priorities, it was only natural for them to want the music in their churches to be more like the music that moved them in the rest of their lives. In pursuit of music that would move them musically, they abandoned the musical practices that had evolved to support congregational praise and mutual exhortation.

The melodies of the best hymns are conceived congregationally. Their melodic contour, range, tessitura, and rhythm are designed for people of no particular vocal accomplishment to sing together. On the other hand, the vocal style out of which praise-and-worship music has evolved is conditioned by the expectation that it will be performed and recorded and then processed passively by its audience. The most sophisticated component of the melody is its rhythm, which is conceived soloistically and heard against the backdrop of a pervasive beat. That is why, when the instruments of the rhythm section are removed, pop/rock melodies will often sound shapeless,[19] and why the leadership of both a praise team and a praise band is so vitally important to the new worship. The challenge is in making such an experience truly congregational, rather than just a performance with which people are invited to sing along.

The melody of Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Is Our God” (see section 2), for example, sits on the fifth scale-degree (sol) for the whole verse and on the first scale-degree (do) for the chorus. Its vitality is rhythmic: continuous syncopations that make sense only as they are construed against the instrumental accompaniment. Otherwise the melody is static. Any sense of growth in the song comes from the band, as the bass descends repeatedly beneath the same series of chords (eight times, from I to vi to IV), and as the volume level increases with every iteration. The song belongs to the performers up front. The lead singer hangs his snippets of text on the framework of an audible beat plus chord-changes provided by the band and croons with the stylized timbre, ornamentation, and rhythmic finesse of a rock star, while the congregation sings along. Congregants may like it. Congregants may be moved by it. Congregants may participate in it. Congregants may address God from their hearts. But, insofar as the substance of the music is borne by something other than the voices of congregants, it cannot be said that they address one another in song.


This is the situation in which we find ourselves. To obey the revealed will of God, we must reform our congregational singing. We must address God with the decorum and sincerity that befit his being, our neediness, and the covenant that unites us. In addition, we must begin again to address one another in song. To these ends, we should be better stewards of the congregational music we have inherited from those earlier Christians who understood its biblical purpose. We should not be surprised or offended when the musical language cultivated by the church in her song sounds different from what we hear elsewhere, because different purposes require different forms. Pastors must teach the saints once again to take responsibility for their songs, so that, though there may be an instrumental accompaniment and though the pastor may stand up front, the impulse for the music clearly comes from the congregants themselves, or, to put it precisely, from the Holy Spirit at work in them, so that each sings courageously—speaking to God, speaking to his Christian brother or sister two pews away, and listening humbly to what that Christian brother or sister has to say to him. It would be a new “morn of song.” Let us ask our gracious God for it.

Continue to section 4, “Singer.”


[1] Mishnah Pesahim 5:7; 9:3. Perhaps Paul had something like Psalm 116:7 in mind when he used the plural reflexive pronoun in Ephesians 5:19 (addressing yourselves) and Colossians 3:16 (teaching and admonishing yourselves). It is not the most common way to indicate reciprocation, but it is the best way to indicate both reciprocation and reflexiveness.

[2] See Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon (Waco: Word Books, 1982), 208. “Our preference for joining ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ with ‘teaching and admonishing one another’ is for the following reasons: (a) the two participial clauses ὲν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ διδάσκοντες . . . (‘in all wisdom teaching . . .’) and ὲν (τῇ) χάριτι ᾄδοντες . . . (‘with thanksgiving [or grace] singing . . .’) are symmetrically balanced with their prepositional phrases (both commencing with ὲν, ‘in,’) at the head of each clause and the participles immediately following. By contrast the other alternative with ψαλμοῖς κτλ. being attached to the following involves an overweighting of the final participial clause. (b) The RSV rendering necessitates the insertion of ‘and’ before ‘singing’ (ᾄδοντες, cf. NIV) but this does not appear in the original. (c) The parallel passage in Ephesians 5:19 gives the same general sense as our interpretation. (d) The objection that mutual teaching and admonition would not take place in such psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is not valid. If the apostle had in mind antiphonal praise or solo singing for mutual edification in church meetings then mutual instruction and exhortation could well have been possible.”

[3] See Murray J. Harris, Colossians & Philemon (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 167. “Three different words for ‘song’ seem more suitable with ‘singing’ than with ‘teaching.’”

[4] It is not always clear which psalms were intended for corporate worship, but in a sample of those that were clearly so intended (Ps. 30 because of its superscription; Ps. 96, 105, and 106 because of the quotations in 1 Chr. 16; Ps. 100, 106, 107, 118, and 136 because of their refrain, “for his steadfast love endures forever”; and Ps. 104–106, 111–113, 115–117, 135, and 146–150 because of their refrain, “Hallelujah!”) only 6% of verses are addressed directly to God (22 out of 369), whereas 93% are addressed to others: 45% addressed directly to others and 48% addressed implicitly to them through third-person references to God. Only 1% of the verses are addressed to the self.

[5] Luther to Georg Spalatin, 1523, “so that the Word of God might also remain in song among the people.” Calvin in his Articles concernant l’organisation de l’église et du culte a Genève, 1537, “The other matter is the psalms which we wish to be sung in the church as we have it from the example of the ancient church and also the testimony of Saint Paul, who says that it is good to sing in the congregation with mouth and heart.”

[6] 1 Kin. 10:12; 1 Chr. 6:31–48; 9:33; 15:16–24; 16:7, 37, 41–42; 25:1–4; 2 Chr. 5:12–13; 29:25–30; 35:15.

[7] 1 Chr. 16:36; Ezra 3:10–13; Neh. 8:6; 12:40–43.

[8] J. A. Smith, “The Ancient Synagogue, the Early Church and Singing,” Music & Letters 65 (1984): 1–7.

[9] Most notably in Tertullian’s description of the agape meal. Apologeticum 39:16–18.

[10] All these translations come from James McKinnon, Music in Early Christian Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 44, 98, 86, 129, 159.

[11] Ambrose, Sermon against Auxentius 34. Published with Letter 21 in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 10, St. Ambrose: Select Works and Letters.

[12] It is true that the laity was not entirely silenced, for in some places it was permitted to sing something on occasion, such as a vernacular translation of part of the sequence at Easter or at one of the other principal feasts. See the description of Leise in Robert L. Marshall and Robin A. Leaver, “Chorale: Pre-Reformation Antecedents” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed. (New York: Grove's Dictionaries, 2000).

[13] Herl, Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism, 14–15.

[14] Nicholas Temperley, “The Old Way of Singing,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 34 (1981): 509–544. See also Alan Clark Buechner, “The Decline of Congregational Music in New England,” in Yankee Singing Schools and the Golden Age of Choral Music in New England, 1760–1800 (Boston: Boston University, 2003), 1–16.

[15] For England, see Nicholas Temperly, The Music of the English Parish Church, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 1:101, 120, 124–26, 151–52, 227. A correspondant to the Presbyterial Critic (Baltimore, September 1856, pp. 237, 239–40) described a similar situation in some American city churches in the mid-nineteenth century: “Choir music and congregational music are now mixed and confusedly attempted together. The two ought by all means to be separated. . . . Our churches formerly insisted on having their music led by a precentor. The natural tendency of such leading, as might be shown, is backward. Under this leading, the people neglected to cultivate music, and it degenerated until it became intolerable. A reaction from this condition followed. . . . The few in each church who cultivated music, were deputed by the congregation to lead the singing. . . . These choirs, aiming to please themselves in respect to the character of the music sung, the people were generally unable to unite with them, however imperfectly, until at last the semblance of congregational singing disappeared in a great proportion of our churches. And, at the present time, what do we see as the fruits of this process? Look in on our churches. The congregation praises God through a delegated committee. New tune books have continued to flood the land. Some of these are used in one church, some in another; and many are used in rapid sucession in the same church—new music being introduced to supplant that which is not yet old, and introduced for no other reason than that it is new. And the people—the music being removed out of their reach—have, in general, apparently lost all sense of responsibility toward it. . . . Some try to follow the choir in the words sung and use their hymn-books for the purpose, while others, without hymn-book, and apparently without occupation during the singing, sit gazing at the choir, or gazing at their neighbors, or gazing into vacuity, as the case may be.”

[16] B. Sutton-Smith and B. G. Rosenberg, “Sixty Years of Historical Change in the Game Preferences of American Children,” The Journal of American Folklore 74 (1961): 23–24, 30–31.

[17] “State of the Market,” Time 24, no. 5 (30 July 1934).

[18] Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Danger from Within,” The Saturday Evening Post 236, no. 3 (26 January 1963): 15. See also Capt. Joseph Skornicka, “A Singing Citizenry,” Music Educators Journal 29, no. 6 (May–June 1943): 61. “Men who have been in the Army for some time are responding with great enthusiasm to the efforts of our Special Service Division to create a singing army. The new recruits, however, must be urged and prompted to sing, because they have just left a citizenry that doesn’t sing. . . . Americans should get the habit of singing again—a habit which has been largely lost since the time of the last war.”

[19] Carol Doran once illustrated this with a poignant story. “Two of my teenaged daughters and I were on a long road trip when they suggested, half in jest, that we make the time pass faster by singing with one another. Remembering all the times our family used to sing on long trips when I was growing up, I asked enthusiastically, ‘What shall we sing?’ It turned out that all my daughters were able to remember were a few silly songs from childhood such as ‘the ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah!’ and some jingles from television commercials. The rock music they listen to was not practical for singing because its effects depend upon an incessant beat and loud accompaniment. Its melody was not strong enough to stand alone.” Trouble at the Table: Gathering the Tribes for Worship (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992), 50.