There’s a legend about an African tribe called the Himba.
In this tribe each child has a unique song. When a tribe learns that a woman is pregnant, the tribe will go out into the wilderness and come back with a song that is unique to the child in the womb. The tribe will sing this song when the woman gets pregnant, they’ll sing it again when the child is born, again as the child enters school. They’ll sing it as the child becomes an adult and gets married. At milestones along the journey of life, this song will be repeatedly sung by the tribe.
Ann Voskamp describes this custom when she writes:
And when the child is born, the Himba tribe gathers and sings the child’s song to him or her. Later, when the child begins school, the village gathers and chants the child’s song. And when the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the Himba again come together and sing. And at the time of marriage, the person again hears the notes of her song.
They’d also gather together when a child loses way… when the child strays or commits a crime. They would gather around the child and sing the song to them, because they know the song that they’ve heard over and over again would remind them who they are.
And so the tribe sings to remind the child who they are.
When God’s people gather together in Worship, we sing to be reminded who we are. In singing God’s Word, we are reminded who we are in Christ and the work of God in rescuing us. We are reminded of the amazing grace that was given to us when Jesus took our place. We are reminded that have been made sons and daughters.
When we sing, we remember.
And this is precisely why week after week after week, we gather together to not only be reminded in preaching of God’s Words to us but we sing of them. Because there is something significant about music and how it embeds God’s Word into our heart. This is why we repeat songs throughout the year, because certain songs are worth remembering. We need the songs that we’ll be humming when we leave Church. We need songs that we’ll sing to our kids when we put them to bed. We need songs that we’ll sing when we don’t have the words to say. And we need sings that get us through the dark times.
We sing because in the singing, God himself reminds us who we are and how he’s made us who we are.