The Value of Repetition

Christian music has been an area of controversy among Christians for generations. I think we might be finally walking out of that as doctrinally rich hymns, songs, and spiritual songs are being written.

I would like to gently address a common thought that songs that repeat the same words over and over are vain and obnoxious. My thought as I study Scripture is that repetition is a Biblical form of worship and teaching.

I see in Revelation creatures who are ceaseless in their repetition: “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Rev.. 4:8

Psalm 136 is another great example of repetition as David points out occasion after occasion where God’s “Steadfast love endures forever.” “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.  Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;” Psalm 136

Repetition is not in vain unless it is said meaninglessly. Matthew 6:7-8 warns us of meaningless repetition in prayer. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Truly there is nothing but vanity in singing anything repetativly or thoughtlessly. There is also vanity in meaningless words that lack biblical truth. Biblically untrue songs cannot be sung with a heart of genuine worship because only truth about God from Scripture is able to bring about a heart of worship.

With that said,

Repetition is part of Worship: Worship is truly all about the heart of the worshiper. Are we truly involved in our worship or just observers mouthing words? Do our eyes fill with tears when we sing of the cross. Is our heart full of awe when we sing of our Creator’s glory? Or is worship about us? Is it about the tunes and instruments we like? The songs we are familiar singing? The people we are comfortable worshiping with? Honestly, sometimes I need to repeat a phrase a few times before the concept sinks in and my heart can praise God through the truth. And then, I want to emphasize that truth and sing it louder and with more heart. Repetition is valuable in worship IF it is truthful and heartfelt.

Repetition is necessary for our souls: Yes, sometimes we sing songs that minister to our own souls. But even in those songs, what is wrong with repetition? What is wrong with reminding ourselves with repetition how good God is? We learn by repetition. We need repetition for the health of our faltering, weak, and sin tainted souls. How often we stumble and fall into the same sins of distrusting God? Failing to see His goodness? Not resting in His promises? We need to meditate on truth, which means speaking and even singing Biblical truths to our own souls repeatedly.

Oh that we would sing more repetition! Oh that we would be in awe of every word that we sing! And sing over and over and over….through all eternity…Because God is worthy of every word…over and over and over.

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11