As I have advanced in years, I have come into a deeper realization of how my life has been impacted by the wonderful Divinely inspired hymns of the Church that have contributed to my spiritual growth. I have wondered how psalms and hymns have played a part throughout the centuries of God’s dealings with His people. What purpose have they served? And how are we affected by the songs of today – for good, or for ill? How do they affect our younger generation? What effect do the lyrics of our modern music have on our spirits? Or our minds? What was God’s intended purpose for music and songs?
Music and songs really originated when the Creator God “laid the foundations of the earth.” It was such a glorious event that “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” (Job 38:4-8)
The first we read of people singing in the Scriptures is in Exodus 15 immediately after Israel’s miraculous crossing of the Red Sea on dry land: “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spoke, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously…The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my Salvation; He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” (Exod. 15) That song will be sung again by the Overcomers. “And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Your ways, You King of saints…” (Rev. 15:3)
There was “singing and dancing,,,with tabrets (timbrels or tambourines), with joy, and with instruments of music” when David returned in triumph from battle against the enemies of Israel. (1 Sam. 18:6)
Of the renowned King Solomon, the wisest of men, it is said that “he spoke 3,000 proverbs, and 1,005 songs!” (1 Kings 4:32) He must have inherited some of his father’s talent for song-writing. David’s many psalms were songs of praise and thanksgiving, sung with the sheep in the fields of Bethlehem, sung to cheer the depressed spirit of King Saul, sung when his own soul was “cast down,” and sung with great thanksgiving and praise to the God of His Salvation. (The Psalms of David)
We have recorded in 1 Chron. 25 a description of the first choir, organized by David. It numbered 288 singers, accompanied by “cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God.” These singers were “instructed in the songs of the Lord.” (1 Chron. 25:1-7)
Another great display of music occurred at the dedication of the rebuilt wall of Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah and Zerubbabel. All the Levites were brought to Jerusalem “to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps. And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together” from all the countryside around…”those with trumpets…and with the musical instruments of David the man of God…” “…so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.” (Neh. 12:27-47)
To follow through in the New Testament, I believe it was a practice of Jesus to sing hymns, as He did after His last Passover supper with His disciples, before facing the terrible ordeal that awaited Him in Gethsemane, the Judgment Hall, and Calvary. But it was also there that He imparted His Joy to those who would become the foundation of the Church which He was about to build. (Matt. 26:30; John 15:11)
So then, we are admonished by the Apostle Paul to “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And again, “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.” (Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16)
We have, in recent years, learned from a renowned Microbiologist some excellent information about the importance of cellular nutrition; the necessity of feeding the cells of our bodies with good nutrition to make for proper growth, good health, and high quality of physical life. Because it occurs over long periods of time, the impact on our bodies of the food we take in, for good or for ill, is imperceptible. It is not noticed until we suddenly succumb to some degenerative disease, our health has been compromised, or we discover that we are overweight. Or we are blessed to retain good health into our latter years.
Nutrition for our physical well-being is extremely important, but I have been meditating lately on just how much my spirit has been fed over the years by the regular intake of God’s written Word, as well as the singing of the wonderful Gospel hymns that express the goodness and faithfulness of God and confirm my own testimony and devotion to Him. I can recall occasions when I’m sure some of my “cells” were nourished by my precious Grandmother singing, while working around her little homestead kitchen,
“Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need Thy tender care;
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, for our use Thy folds prepare.
Blessèd Jesus; Blessèd Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are…”
Hundreds of wonderful old hymns that express our confession of faith have come back through my memory. It is almost impossible to choose those that most stand out in my memory, the truths of which have provided nutrition for my “spiritual cells” With very great difficulty I have chosen just one from a few of many topics:
Hymns that remind me of the cost of my Redemption: At the Cross;
Hymns of Praise: O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing;
Hymns expressing Worship: How Great Thou Art;
Hymns encouraging Prayer: What a Friend We Have In Jesus;
Hymns of Admonition: Count Your Blessings;
Hymns of Surrender: I Surrender All;
Hymns of Commitment: Take My Life and Let It Be;
Hymns expressing Trust: ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus;
Hymns assuring of God’s Guidance and Care” Great Is Thy Faithfulness;
Hymns inspiring Aspiration: Higher Ground;
Hymns promoting Challenge: Stand Up For Jesus;
Hymns expressing Hope: Face to Face;
Hymns articulating personal Testimony: (Please forgive me, but there was no way I could omit one of these): Constantly Abiding; Blessed Assurance; Never Alone; The Lily of the Valley; He Hideth My Soul; The Solid Rock; It Is Well With My Soul; etc…
If any of these stir something in your memory, take out those words again, and meditate on them. Many an inspired hymn is a Letter of Hope in itself.
“Now the God of all HOPE fill you with all JOY and PEACE in the believing, that you may abound in HOPE, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
In Agape, Eulene