Music and Song – enchanting words! And little wonder, for truly the gift of song is one of the most wonderful creations of God. When we read in Genesis that the Lord saw that His works were good and that He rejoiced in them, we can imagine He also listened to the wonderful harmony arising from all creation. Scripture is full of the song of creation. In Job we read that the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. And truly, if we have ears to hear and are not too rushed by the hustle and bustle of our busy world, who has not on a beautiful summer’s day listened in awe to the melody of sweet singing song-birds and humming insects, and that, even now after the curse of sin has caused a note of groaning to be heard from all creation?
The Psalms call to creation to sing. “Sing oh heavens and be joyful oh earth! Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all the earth.” And Psalm 148 is one call to praise, to angels and stars, to fire and hail, snow and vapors, fruitful trees and cedars, beasts and creeping things and birds and then to kings and people, young men and maidens, old men and children. For very well can we realize how Adam in his state of righteousness joined his voice in the grand swelling chorus of praise to his Maker.
What a change sin wrought also in this gift of song. Yes, man living in sin still sings; sings in wicked revelry or to try to forget the miserable results of the curse of God upon sin. We hear it round about us every day, this vain, sinful singing. Our hearts ache when we see men, women and children go into eternity singing these empty, sinful songs. How grateful we should be who, by the grace of God, have been turned from death to life.
Surely, it is most fitting that Christian should sing. Scripture calls us to shout aloud and sing for the great redemption wrought in us. “Oh sing unto the Lord a new song for He hath done marvelous things. The Lord hath made known His salvation, He hath remembered His mercy and truth toward the house of Israel. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous.” And this is as it should be. Our lives should resound with praise and thanksgiving. The question may arise, what shall we sing? The answer is given in Ephesians 5:19
“Speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” How must we sing? Colossians 3:16 “Sing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Yes, we very well know what and how we as Christians should sing because it is plainly shown us in God’s Word. In regard to this wonderful gift of song given us by our God, it is our calling to let our light shine that men may see our good works and hereby our Father in heaven may be glorified, because it is true that by our songs we make an impression which is often times stronger than our mere speech.
Is it then not pathetic that also among us as Christian young people we often hear these vain, sinful and worldly songs at our banquets and outings and at our work? Surely it must have grieved many of us when also at our own picnics and outings we find that many a one is ashamed to sing good old songs and psalms but not one bit ashamed to sing such ridiculous things as “Pistol Packin’ Mama” many seem to be much better acquainted with all this popular stuff than with our own Psalter. Surely these are not songs of salvation and spiritual songs. Anyone full of the Spirit and with grace in their hearts certainly cannot sing, “Mairsy Doats”! It is indeed, in what we sometimes consider to be Christian homes, very shocking to find the hymnals and psalters covered by about two layers of popular music. I challenge anyone to prove to me that we may expect much active spiritual life there. It is the spirit of the age and we certainly here also may see the signs of the times. I know when we look shocked and disgusted about these very things, we are ridiculed and called “old fashioned” but if we turn to God’s Word we can easily see our calling to turn back.
Of course this is only one of the forms of misuse of the gift of song. Singing with grace in the heart and full of the Spirit, making melody in the heart unto the Lord, is also very often lacking even when singing sacred songs. How often are we not singing just for the form and because we enjoy a catchy tune. This, of course, has always been the case in the history of God’s people especially in times when spiritual life is not on a very high level. We are easily led astray by beautiful tunes and before we know it we may be singing heartily something we cannot accept as our confession of the truth.
In regard to the gift of song which God has given us with which to glorify Him, I am sure everyone of us when appearing before our God and giving account of also this wonderful gift of His, must confess:
“My sins are more than I can count
My sinful deeds arise:
Yea, they have overtaken me,
I dare not raise my eyes”.
We may have one consolation as Christians, even though now singing very imperfectly, one day we shall sing the song of complete victory when we shall sing the new songs and the songs of Moses and of the Lamb.