The Psalms are the 'hymnbook' of the Old Testament. Sung praise is an important part of church worship, and is seen throughout scripture and throughout church history. It has taken many forms and styles, from 'professional choirs' in cathedrals, to worship bands with elaborate sound desks, to a small group of teenagers round a camp fire, or a few brave souls battling to keep a tune unaccompanied. The style is irrelevant, as all these can be worship, but can also be a poor excuse for worship. Psalm 149 gives four clear indications what turns praise into worship:
1) Fresh (v1,3) - has to have heart felt immediacy. We need to be fresh.
2) Community (v1-3) - takes place in a gathered fellowship with God, not an individual but everyone bringing themselves before Him
3) Joy (v4-5) - Joy has to be the bottom line, Joy because of our salvation, and God 'delights' in us irrespective of our circumstances
4) Spill out (v6-9) - true worship spills out into our lives and gives us the strength to live for God each day
The final distinguishing feature that turns singing songs into worship and praise is that, as in Zechariah's song in Luke 1, it points people and draws people to Christ.