Dear brother Jeffrey,
Here in Singapore, due to COVID-19, we have not been able to assemble for worship on Sunday since April this year, and members could log in through Zoom to worship "virtually".
The government has allowed worship for a maximum of 50 members per congregation since July but members must adhere to social distancing, wearing face masks, and there can be no "audible" singing. These measures are to prevent the spread of the virus.
As a result of the announcement, one local congregation started to assemble but instead of a song leader, the chosen hymns are displayed through a projector for members to sing silently to themselves but together, collectively as a church. Of course, they have prayers (opening and closing), reading of scriptures, preaching (sermon), a song of invitation (silent singing with face masks on), and partaking of the Lord's supper.
The government will be opening up 100 members to assemble for worship in October. But because of those measures, many congregations in Singapore have decided not to assemble because the leaders believe that "silent" or inaudible singing does not constitute true worship, despite being carried in spirit and in truth.
I searched the bible, including Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19, I could not find verses that say singing must be audible, (otherwise it is not considered singing), in order to be acceptable to God. To me, Colossians 3:16 is teaching us to allow the word of Christ to dwell in our hearts, praising God and building one another up in God's word. It would be good to be audible, but it does not mean inaudible singing with enthusiasm and understanding is not acceptable to God. We come together on Sunday to worship God, not only through our singing (audible or inaudible) but also through His word, teaching, and preaching, prayers, and partaking of the Lord's supper.
I like to know, dear brother, your thoughts and understanding
- on singing, if it must be audible in order for it to be acceptable to God in worship
- on the decision not to meet on Sunday to worship God, (because of "silent" or inaudible singing) is a violation of God's command, when the government allows public worship.
This matter weighs heavily in the hearts of my family and we want to learn the truth so that we can do His will and remain steadfast in our faith.
I look forward to hearing from you, dear brother.
"Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).
"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16).
Singing is directed both to the Lord and to one another. Silent singing does not fulfill the command to speak, teach, and admonish one another.
This is a case where the government is in the wrong and God's laws come first. However, you may be able to find ways around the government's restrictions. You can meet to do everything else, that is allowed and then either meet outdoors where you can stand far enough apart to sing some songs without violating the government's rules or do some virtual singings.
Unfortunately, technology does not allow simultaneous singing together. But if you have someone skilled at sound editing, you send out a video file of the song leader directing a few songs. The members then watch the video with headphones and record themselves singing with the song leader. They send their recordings in. The sound editor aligns the singing to start together and builds a layered sound file of everyone singing together. This is then distributed to the members to listen to.
Dear brother Jeffrey,
I thank you for your prompt response and grateful to God for sending brethren like yourself to assist in understanding God's word as we sojourn life journey.
Appreciate your suggestion and may God keep you in His loving care as you continue to abound in good works in His kingdom.