The Joy of Singing
One of the most beautiful gifts God has given to mankind is the ability to sing. The cadence of several parts blending harmoniously is more than enthralling; it has brought joy and comfort to many weary and fainting hearts. Man is not alone in his enjoyment of singing; God delights to hear His people lifting their voices to Him in praise and adoration."Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teach and encourage one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord" (Col 3:16). Many people can be blessed when the message of the song promotes the word of Christ and is sung with the desire to exalt God. Our hearts stir when we sing "We would see Jesus! For the shadows lengthen", and are blessed anew by the great sacrifice Christ made". Our hearts swell with adoration and praise as we sing, "All Hail the power of Jesus' name". Think of the impetus we receive to live a more holy life when we sing, "Blessed are they who listen not to evil counsel". These songs stir our feelings but their messages promote spiritual growth.
The Colossians quotation tells us that our songs should have purpose, that they should teach and admonish. Doctrinally sound music will always complement truth by conveying a sound scriptural message. Sound gospel music centres around God, not man, it will exalt God, His attributes and the wonders of His grace and mercy to man. It will inspire an attitude of surrender and submission to God's will. It will evoke a growing commitment to serve God as a living channel of His power. Our singing should help prepare us for the coming kingdom. Colossians also tells us that our singing should instruct others. Many songs testify to the saving merits of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Others portray the road to peace, joy, humility, love and many other Christian virtues, and the words are greatly enhanced when they are sung with grace in your hearts to the Lord. A brother once advised me to sing songs when I am `down', that I should sing my favourite hymns (the advice of Bro Ibeka really helped me).
So, brethren and sisters, if you are weighed down with trials and tests in life or burdened with grief don't despair. Instead, think of Paul and Silas in prison and sing (Acts 16:25). When we, from a heart of love and adoration, exalt God in praise, we are reminded that God knows and cares, and thus our cares grow lighter. The oppression of discouragement or even despair cannot survive long in a heart that overflows with gratitude, for God is love and of tender mercy. The Psalmist instructs us, in the context of singing to show His salvation from day to day: "Declare His glory among the heathen, His wonders among all people" (Psalm 96:2,3). The witness of song has made a deep impact on many searching hearts, stirring the conviction that has aided them in finding salvation.
To man's disgrace, much music that has developed in modern times does not bring glory to God.
Carnal man capitalises on the emotional nature of music to enslave multitudes in a state of sensual ecstasy. Modern music has contributed greatly to the current exercise of free love and its contempt for moral restraints. Sad to say, the influence of this sensual music is subtly making inroads into today's (Gospel music) Christendom. We hear more and more songs focused on human feelings and emotions - an offshoot of the country music of the mid-1900s, from jazz comes the swinging rhythm, phrase repetition and the subtle use of syncopation. Even more recently we hear the inroads of strong beat and off beat patterns so reminiscent of rock music.
The fact that the gift of music has been adulterated does not mean we should stop singing, but we do need to exercise spiritual discernment in the kind of music we enjoy, because it will affect our worship and our desire to know and follow God. The beauty of ecclesia blending in four-part harmony is soon replaced by a trained choir, a singing group, or even recorded music. But as we follow God's directives for the New Testament era (Mark 14:26; Eph 5:19).) Singing our praises from the heart, we are blessed by the inspiration of true heart worship that ascends to God as a sweet incense. Our singing needs to be a heart response to the work of the word and of the kingdom. Paul said, "I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also" (1 Cor 14:15).
When we sing from the heart our spirit is strengthened and we gain fresh zeal to remain faithful to God. One of the joys of eternity, when our Master returns, will be singing the praises of the Lamb, the one who is worthy of all adoration and praise. Let us exalt the name of the Lord now from a heart of love and thanksgiving, so that we can be a part of the blood-washed throng who will sing the praises of the Lamb for ever.
Comment from Sister Esther Worrell.- I could attest to the advice given, as once whilst undergoing tremendous trials, the song my parents sang when I was quite young, came to me over the many years from the past, and I found myself singing it, and it brought me great relief. It was only then that I was able understand what they were going through at that time, and the relief it brought them. The words were - "I must tell Jesus all of my troubles: I cannot bear these burdens alone: When in distresses, he surely will help me: He'll ever love and care for his own". The chorus - "I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus, I cannot bear these burdens alone etc." just seemed to resonate throughout my feelings, bringing out an earnest prayer for his attention to what I>d been going through, and his help, bringing me ever so close to him and his Father, that I found great solace in singing it, and thus the relief I was seeking. Yes, I often long for the time when in his Kingdom, we>ll be singing praises to our Heavenly Father and Our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, accompanied by those musical instruments.
Bro Uka Egwu (Ohafia, Nigeria)