July 1, 1986 Issue
by Edwin Morris
It is generally conceded that the singing in our brotherhood is real beautiful, especially at different meetings in the brotherhood. However, in this article, I will discuss singing with the spirit and understanding primarily. There are nine scriptures in the New Testament that teach us about singing. The scriptures are: Mat 26:30; Acts 16:25; Rom 15:9; 1 Cor 14:15; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Heb 2:12; Heb 13:15; and James 5:13. In these scriptures the words sung, sang, sing, singing, and fruit of our lips is used. If we went no further in our discussion any fair-minded and honest person who wanted to please God would understand fully how to please him in the song service.
In Eph 5:19: "Speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Psalms are songs devoted to the praise of God, extolling His name, power, character and works. The songs of David are mainly of this character, hence were called psalms. These hymns are the most precious devotional material in the possession of the church, and their value is appreciated the more as they are studied. Hymns are songs of praise, thanksgiving, and supplication, teaching our dependence on God and His willingness to hear and bless. Spiritual songs are those intended to inspire and cultivate feelings of spiritual devotion and to bring the spirit of man into harmony with and under the control of God. Singing is to sing to anyone, in His praise and honor. While the lips sing the heart must join in the melody by an uplifting to God. We are to bring the thoughts and feelings of the heart into harmony with the sentiment of the song. It is the sentiment that is sung that constitutes the worship. There is no acceptable worship in music distinct from the sentiment sung.
There are two ways of making melody. (1) You can make melody on the strings of a musical instrument, (2) You can make melody in your heart. As far as "making melody" is concerned instrumental music does not violate that. You could make melody on the strings of an instrument. But the Bible does not stop there. It says "in your heart". It names the instrument, and when a mechanical instrument of music is used we violate the command, "Making melody in your heart".
In Col 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord". Dwell--to dwell in one and influence him (for good) in your assembly. Richly--abundantly. Not only must the saint be yielded to the word, but must have a knowledge of it. Wisdom--skill and discretion in imparting truth. Admonishing to admonish warn, exhort. The word contains the ideas of encouragement, and reproof as well. Psalms--such as those of the psalmists: Hymns-songs of praise: Spiritual songs--Songs which express spiritual emotion. It is quite possible for the same song to be at once a psalm, hymn and spiritual song. Our singing should have for its purpose the glory of God, not the display of one's voice or musical technique. While the lips sing, the heart must join in the melody by an uplifting to God. Spiritual is added to songs so they are restricted to sacred subjects. The contrast is between the heathen and the Christian practice. Let not your songs be the drinking songs of heathen feasts, but psalms and hymns, and spiritual. The Greek word "Ode" refers to any song or poem, religious or secular. It is placed last and needs the adjective "Spiritual" odes or songs to distinguish them from secular songs. Every Christian is commanded to sing regardless of their ability. Brother and Sister ever keep this in mind and never be guilty of laughing at or making fun of one who may not have the ability you have. Do not misunderstand; I believe we should endeavor to harmonize and work toward improving the singing, but let us not lose sight of the purpose of the singing.
In Rom 15:9, "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name." It was a part of God's great plan, all the while, that Christ "born under the law" should save the Gentiles, and enable them to glorify God for His mercy to them. This is quoted from Psalms 18:49. Paul felt it necessary to quote these promises and Prophecies to reconcile the Jews to the reception of the Gentile. When David represents himself as among the Gentiles, as confessing to God and singing with them, he foreshadows that the time was coming; when Jews and Gentiles would mutually accept each other, and that they would be so completely one as to recognize the same God and sing the same songs. They would sing spiritual and not secular songs.
In Heb. 13:15, "giving thanks" comes from a Greek word that is elsewhere translated "confess" or "profess". It is to speak or say together. Thus in our singing we speak or say together the words in the song. Notice: As we sing the song we should be following the words closely and understanding what is contained in the song. It is much more than just a pretty voice that pleases the Lord. Too many times I am afraid the meaning of the songs are not grasped while we sing.
Many say they want instruments of music because they like it. If men do things required by God because they love the things, and not because God requires it, God rejects that service. When we learn this truth, then what we like or dislike will not affect our worship to God.
Some ask about David in Amos 6:5 "That chant to the song of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music like David." This pronounces a woe upon those who invent to themselves instruments of music like David. David was a good man in the main, but did some things wrong.
He was not a lawgiver of God, and is condemned for inventing to himself instruments of music. Adam Clarke in his commentary makes the following remark, "If there was a woe to them who invented instruments of music as did David under the law, is there no curse, no woe, to them who invent them, and introduce them into the worship of God in the church?"
In conclusion let us realize the importance of singing and the meaning of the scriptures teaching about it.
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