According to “Enough” singer and songwriter Elias Dummer, music is more fundamental to worshipping God and practicing his presence than we realize. Elias points out in this Worship Sound Bite that throughout history, every major denomination and Christian movement has involved singing. Group singing is a fundamentally powerful religious practice.
Additionally, the science shows that singing “deepens the social bonds” as humans harmonize together. The vibrations literally bring us a sense of community with those around us.
But the even more important point of this Worship Sound Bite is to remind us all that, in our work, whatever that work is, whether leading worship or cleaning teeth, we are a worshipper. In the case of Brother Lawrence, a 17th century Parisian monk, being an image bearer of God meant washing the dishes while secretly writing a book on prayer.
Our favorite Brother Lawrence quote is:
How happy we would be if we could find the treasure of which the Gospel speaks; all else would be as nothing. As it is boundless, the more you search for it the greater the riches you will find; let us search unceasingly and let us not stop until we have found it.
More by Elias Dummer
Two things. One, I think the music actually can be more fundamental to what we’re doing than people realize. I mean, the liturgies of every main Christian denomination throughout history have included sung liturgy, have included the idea that the singing is somehow special in a way. And even the science points to that, actually. So, for example, singing together produces oxytocin, which second only to a particular activity that’s probably not appropriate for present company, but this- this oxytocin hormone basically is the thing that happens to a mom when she’s holding her baby for the first time. So it basically deepens our social bonds. And it turns out, also produces these altruistic tendencies. So the simple act of group singing is actually fundamentally powerful. So I want to kind of start there. And number two, I’m reminded of Brother Lawrence, who was this monk who did the dishes.
That’s quite literally what his job was. He secretly wrote a book on prayer that no one knew. I think it was posthumous. And so he talked about practicing the presence of God. And not just in a sense of disappearing into a corner, although that’s good, but also understanding that God is the God of the pots and pans. There’s a degree to which we are practicing the animating spirit that the word spirit in Hebrew is the word for animation.
And there’s this sense of connection between the breath and the animating of our material actions. And so in our work, whatever that work is, we are a worshiper. So I’ve long said, when I’m training worship leaders at my own church or elsewhere, that we are not more special than the Christian dentist. Our job is a little bit easier than theirs, but their job is to go out and be Christ, be an image bearer of God in their dental work, and that they can practice the presence of God as they do that just the same, if not more, as us playing the role we play in helping people sing together.
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Elias Dummer is a Canadian musician, songwriter, and writer based in Tennessee. He was the principal songwriter, founding member, lead singer, and pianist in the contemporary Christian band the City Harmonic, from 2009 until 2017, and released his first solo music in over a decade in 2019.