The Bible records many songs that were sung during worship, victory celebrations, and social gatherings. The Book of Psalms consists of songs or poems that were set to music. The Bible is a treasure trove of songs that are intended for the celebration of life and the edification of the faith community. 

Songs in the Bible are primarily meant to foster unity, bring the community closer, and inspire action. Let me illustrate this through Zechariah’s song (also known as Benedictus). This song of praise brings certain unique aspects that sets itself apart from our usual repertoire of praise and worship songs. 

A Song of Unity

John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, “Bless the Lord God of Israel because he has come to help and has delivered his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David and for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way. (Luke 1: 67-69,72). 

Zechariah sings in awe of the person of God. Interestingly, the song refers to the Father ( bless the Lord God of Israel), the Son (the horn of salvation from the house of David), and the Holy Spirit (the one who filled Zechariah with a prophetic song).

The song reflects the unity in the heart of God. Such beautiful renditions of unity within the Godhead can encourage togetherness. Our hymns and songs must bring out such themes so as to inspire people to live and work in unity.

A Song for the Community 

He has raised up a mighty saviour for us in his servant David’s house, just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago. He has brought salvation from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us. He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and his holy covenant, the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham. He has granted that we would be rescued from the power of our enemies so that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. (Luke 1:69-75)

Zechariah remembers his God, the God of Abraham, the God of David, who visits us, who redeems us, who rescues us, who delivers us. The great songs of protest that have transformed persons, communities, and cultures around the world have been predominantly communitarian songs. Songs of Reformation like “A mighty fortress is our God!” (not my God!), “We shall overcome”, a song that continues to be used today are “Us and we” songs that are powerful reminders of why we are called to live in community and why God cares for the community.

A Song for affirmative Action

You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way. (Luke 1:76). 

John, Zechariah’s son, is now ready to accomplish his mission: to prepare the Lord’s ways, to give knowledge about God’s plan for the entire human race. John was to proclaim the Good News that we can receive light when in darkness and this is the Gospel that guides our feet into the way of peace. Do our songs motivate us for service? 

The songs in the Bible help us remember what God has done and what he wants us to do in and through us. Zechariah’s song is a reflection of themes such as unity, community and service. 

Implications for us today

Godly values are found in many songs within the wider culture. Next week, many of us will be singing “Jana Gana Mana…” the national anthem of India.

The English translation goes as follows:

Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,

Dispenser of India’s destiny.

The name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind, Gujarat and Maratha,

Of the Dravid and Orissa and Bengal;

It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,

Mingles in the music of the Yamuna and Ganga

And is chanted by the waves of the Indian Sea.

They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise.

The salvation of all people is in thy hand,

Thou dispenser of India’s destiny.

Victory, victory, victory to thee.

The National anthem gives us, Indians, a sense of belonging and patriotism whenever it is sung. The National anthem extols unity, purpose, security, and service and therefore, it can be considered a song of praise. (

Indian-Christians have contributed immensely to the Freedom struggle as well as to nation-building. We, as Indian and Christian, must sing the National Anthem with pride and joy.  My prayer is that each of us will be reminded of God’s nature of unity and uphold communitarian values. May we sing the National anthem not just to warm our hearts but to commit ourselves to serving God and our Nation.  

Ben Jonathan Immanuel serves as a Field Secretary with India Sunday School Union, Coonoor, India.

Photo by Lee Pigott on Unsplash
Ben Jonathan Immanuel serves as a Field Secretary with India Sunday school Union, Coonoor, India.