When I am leading tours to Israel, one of our favorite places to sing is in the St. Anne’s Church. It is located right inside the Lion’s Gate (also called St. Stephen’s Gate) within the Old City of Jerusalem. The church is rather old, dating back to the Crusader Period. About 50 feet away from the church are the ruins of the Pools of Bethesda (the Pools of “Mercy” mentioned in John 5, where Jesus healed the lame man).
Sitting inside this church and singing is a wonderful experience because of the over 10 second echo. Groups from all over the world come and sing hymns, anthems, and choruses in their own language. While waiting your turn to sing a few songs, it’s marvelous to listen to God’s praises being sung in Korean, French, or even in an African tongue by groups from Uganda. But understanding the words is irrelevant. It’s the expressions of praise that are seen on the faces of those singing and the glorious sounds of worship that matter.
When our groups sing, I usually lead them in the chorus Alleluia. Leading the singing like a choir director, it’s fun to sing this song in short phrases, allowing for the echo affect to be appreciated before continuing on. We then end with a resounding version of Amazing Grace, a classic hymn that everyone knows. What is special is when other groups join us in the singing of this song of grace, even in their on language. To be honest, we usually sound just as good as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
But praise offered to God is what it’s all about, whether we sing in our own church, car, or even in the shower. Praise offered with a pure heart, no matter how on or off tune we may be, is what is most important to God.
So on this Sunday, let your praise echo forth God’s glory and grace!