Joyful Noises

How God hears praise

Charles Mills
Joyful Noises
Portrait of a laughing , African woman

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with . . . ” (KJV).

Many pause right here in their reading of Psalm 100:1, 2 for a simple reason. They, as the saying goes, “can’t carry a tune in a bucket.” They think, How am I supposed to come before His presence with singing if I don’t know how to sing?

Praise and Quality

We should keep in mind two important facts about singing praises to God: (1) We can take steps to improve our singing, if we so desire. (2) It’s possible to sing praises to God without uttering a single correct note.

Have you ever sat and listened to a choir? You may have noticed something fascinating. Try as you might, you probably couldn’t pick out any particular voice in the group. Every mouth was moving and every throat was singing, but all you heard was one collective sound—a beautiful sound, like a single, joyous voice raised in praise.

It can be the same for your local congregation, even though you might say, “I was singing off-key. I always do.”

Relax. It doesn’t make one bit of difference as far as the song is concerned. Why? Because God has provided some among us with strong, talented voices. They act as foundations on which the rest of us can stand as we sing our less-than-melodic praises.

With that in mind, you’re about to enjoy your next free voice lesson.

Your Free Lesson

Music has two basic ingredients: “melody”—the tune of a song, and “harmony”—the notes that blend or complement the melody.

When a quartet presents a selection, one sings the melody while the others add bass, tenor, and baritone—the harmony parts. This results in that lovely blend of notes we enjoy so much. But it’s the melody we remember most.

Knowing this, church pianists and organists make sure that the melody notes come through loud and clear so their singers can easily follow along. Simple chords with a well-defined melody line work best, especially with unfamiliar selections. Listen for and follow those lead notes. 

Also, those who’ve been blessed with strong voices can ring out with energy and respect for the words of the song, while others happily sing along. If you happen to know such a talented individual, sit near that person.

Next, you might want to ask the strong-voiced talent in your church to serve as song leaders. They don’t have to have great speaking ability. They can simply announce the song number and then do what they do best—sing! It’s a joy to sing along with a strong-voiced leader.

And, finally, you remember that when you listened to a choir it sounded like one sweet voice singing? Well, my friend, that’s what God hears when your congregation performs a song. He didn’t bless everyone with a musical talent and doesn’t expect us to use what we don’t have. He wants us to love Him with our singing, not impress Him. He’s not about to refuse to accept someone’s musical admiration because he or she is off-key!

Music of the Heart

God listens to the music of the heart. When we as a congregation lift our weak and untrained voices to Him in song, He hears the collective sound echoing in the rafters. But more important, He loves to bend low and enjoy the spiritual tunes being played out in the lives of His children. It’s with a life lived humbly and motivated by love that we sing our greatest praises. That’s the music that makes heaven ring.

Heavenly Father, thank You for accepting us just the way we are—flawed, repentant sinners. To You we raise our adoration. To You we sing our imperfect praises.

Charles Mills