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Sing a New Song: Why Worship Music is so Great

Kathryn Coffey

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As far back as I can remember, I have always loved singing, and I have always liked songs that give praise to God in some way. One of the best parts of being Catholic was singing in the choir. It was a second grade aspiration of mine. I loved the songs, and I wanted to be up there singing with them.    

It all started at my parents’ alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. My dad used to buy videos of the Notre Dame marching band performing at half-time. He himself was a member, and he met my mom there. And there was one DVD that I still like watching as much now as I did as a kid. It was the first game Notre Dame played since 9/11, and both Michigan State University—who they were playing against at the time—and the University of Notre Dame had their marching bands come together on the field to perform “Amazing Grace.” While it didn’t get me too interested in being in a marching band, or too invested in sports for that matter, it did get the ball rolling for how I grew to love spiritual songs.

I grew up singing and listening to songs such as “Gather Us In,” “All Are Welcome,” “I am the Bread of Life,” “Awesome God,” “On Eagle’s Wings,” “Song of the Bread of Life,” “How Can I Keep from Singing,” “Here I am, Lord,” and “Holy is Your Name.” I loved singing them whenever I went to mass. That was mostly because I could sing these songs well.   

Some people may find it a downer to hear the spiritual music. I never remember my friends going as especially crazy for them as I was. But I like these traditional hymns. They sound beautiful, I can sing along with the choir, and even though I could remember a verse or two as well as the refrain, I still like singing them aloud, even outside of a church. It wouldn’t matter how mournful the song is supposed to sound, I would sing it anyway.

However, the lack of reciprocation led me to think I didn’t belong in the Catholic community. So in the middle of freshman year, I decided to go to Millikin’s InterVarsity large group worship nights.

On the road to becoming a Christian, I found the music they were singing to be a little surprising. They weren’t traditional as much as they were modern. The songs didn’t feel too slow, and it seemed like everyone wanted to sing them. It’s the first time I felt reciprocation from kids my age, and since it felt so new, it took some time. Songs such as “Most High God,” “the Revelation Song,” “Spirit Break Out,” and “In Christ Alone” were songs I did not grow up listening to as a child.  

At first, I decided to say I liked these songs to assimilate with everyone else. But then I noticed why everyone was so excited to be singing. They were genuinely happy to be praising God’s name so much so that they want to raise their hands in the air. And not only did it get me to appreciate the songs on my own, but it also got me thinking about one song I learned when I was still a Catholic that I’m surprised that they don’t sing anymore.   

At St. Linus church, a parish near my house in Oak Lawn, I remember learning a song called “Give Thanks.” It was simple enough. We gave God thanks with a grateful heart for giving the world Jesus Christ. The best part about it: there was sign language to this song. If there was any song that had sign language people can learn, then chances are it’s up there in my top thirteen favorite songs to learn in a choir. There’s something about the togetherness and community that I admire.

The part of what makes worship music so magical and special is that it shouldn’t matter how good you sing. God knows you, and wouldn’t care about singing on key or even good. What matters is how the Holy Spirit moves you. And gaining that understanding helped me reshape my appreciation for these songs. It’s more than just singing well; there will always be something more to it than that.

I love God, and that’s something I can never regret saying/singing.

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Sing a New Song: Why Worship Music is so Great