Music has the power to stir the heart and soul of man. For centuries poets, in extolling its sweet compulsion, have dwelt on the delight of comprehending the intricacies of this universal language of mankind.
Soft music soothes the tired mind. There is music which can strike fire from the heart of men and tears from the eyes of women. Music, it has been said, is the Prophet’s art, the speech of angels. It is a gift of God.
Songs of praise and adoration have been rendered to the Lord throughout all the long centuries of the history of God’s people. In the Scriptures we read of the morning stars singing together and all the sons of God shouting for joy. The Psalmist urged the people to sing a new song and to bless Jehovah’s Name with singing. The people of God, in times of distress and in rapturous joy, are moved to express in the concord of song their communion with a faithful God
While suffering the torture of the stock in a cold jail cell—their backs raw and bleeding—Paul and Silas passed the time in singing the Paschal hymn. Angels sang at the Incarnation. The new heaven and earth will be filled with the songs of the redeemed who will eternally praise and worship God.
Yes, Christianity is a singing religion! It is an easy thing for the child of God to sing. We have so much, so very much, in which to rejoice. In our churches we have an order of worship in which congregational singing forms an integral part.
Beacon Lights regularly sponsors Singspirations. In our Sunday Schools much time is given over to singing.
But, in spite of all this, we have a stilted singing culture. It takes very little serious introspection to see that this in true. Can the situation be remedied? The problem demands our concern.
At present in our Protestant Reformed worship services we use only the Psalms. We completely disregard all the other passages of Scripture which so readily lend themselves to song. Good, sound hymns based on gospel truth are never used officially by us. Let’s ask ourselves the question—Why? What possible reason can there be for the restriction of all our praise and worship in song to the use of the Psalms alone? I know of none.
An odd, confusing, twist is also given this puzzling picture when we hear our ministers use the words of a hymn in their sermons to elucidate a thought. The hymn used, however, cannot be sung in our churches. Our organists freely use hymn melodies in our services but our song leaders are directed to keep from using them in our Singspirations.
This editorial is in no way intended to reflect on the good use our present Psalter serves. We do wish to draw attention, however, to the fact that the Psalms are nevertheless limited in their scope. Our Sunday worship services and all our other gatherings not in the least reflect the rich and beautiful New Testament teachings which are pre-eminent in the Christian faith. This condition is most readily apparent at particular seasons of the year, such as Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost and Christmas. The Psalmist, writing in the days of the shadows was indeed possessed of great vision and prophetic insight. However, having never experienced except by anticipatory faith the reality of a Risen Savior and the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit within him, he could not grasp, as can we, the fullness and beauty — the sense of fulfillment — our salvation gives to us today. The church of the New Dispensation, as it seeks to praise God for its redemption and to render Him thanks for all His goodness, has the further revelation of all the Apostolic writers and the fruit of the work of the Spirit in its midst. Today this further inspiration and historical material has no influence in our act of singing praise to God. It makes no contribution at all to our singing culture on the Lord’s Day in the church worship services nor in our societal life. It should not be this way nor does it have to be.
We need a Hymn Book—a good selection of sound, worshipful hymns to round out our singing culture. We need a body of spiritual songs with a New Dispensational emphasis to meet our present spiritual needs and desires which our present Psalter alone can never give us. The Open Forum will happily publish any constructive suggestions as to how a Protestant Reformed Hymn Book can be brought into existence and into proper use in our circles.
Can you help?