Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 25, 1951

The Ministry Of Song

Robert C. Ewell, Woodsboro, Texas

Having recently read a poem, "Good ol' Mountain Music," by brother Jack Dunn, I wonder if the attitude, which inspired the poem, isn't much too prevalent among church members. I am sure that it is evident that many congregations go at singing as if it were for show instead of worship to God. It is also evident that some seem to use their singing to have a big time and nothing more. Maybe we do not realize just how important singing is to us in being a Christian, and maybe we do, but we surely could improve our attitude toward it.

The ministry of song has too long been overlooked, and because of ignorance, it has been over-developed in some places and under-developed in others. Instruments of music are certainly the product of over-emphasis on the "show" end of church music. Of course we can credit much of the fancy church "Choirs" springing up over the country to the "show" side also. I think that in some instances, there is a danger of "hiring" a man to lead the church in singing, in that some of them go out of their way in arranging "schemes" to please the people who hired them instead of God. (This can also be true of "hired" instead of supported preachers.) It is true that the church should develop all the talent it has, but how can we develop talent, and give so much emphasis to being popular because we want the best singer, and most showy - singing in town? Some congregations simply go into a "tizzy" when the leader makes a mistake, or when some new leader doesn't do it just exactly like they want the singing done. We could use less of the showy kind of worship in the church and more of the simplicity found in Christ. It would indeed be show enough to sit with a group of sincere singers pouring their heart out to God. It is equally sad to sit with people who through lack of effort to learn, literally "murder" good gospel songs. Why not open our eyes to the problems before us and do something about them, such as truly learning to sing the songs of Zion?

Song should be the product of an open, honest heart, and open lips of praise will naturally follow. Fill your heart full of God's goodness and keep from singing if you can. Knowing that leaders of many places are criticized, and others who try, it would be well to think how wonderful it would be if all mistakes made were blended in the voice of love—and overlooked.

How song can serve us is amply illustrated in the New Testament. In Matt. 26:30, we see song as a part of worship to God. The very simplicity of that statement, "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out unto the mount of olives" lends dignity to singing. It becomes a shame to clutter up heart-felt praise to God with all the mechanics of instruments; and sometimes the mechanical singing of some unconverted church. Real song comes from deep inside and unless a person is full of God's many blessings his lips move in vain. Paul states in I Cor. 14:15 that we must sing with the "spirit and understanding." He teaches us in that passage that not only our praying but our singing must be fruitful to the hearer. We should not spend time trying to please the hearer—but use it in edifying him. If we will sing as though we were singing in the presence of God, and we are, those that hear will certainly be taught the proper lesson from our songs. I think all will agree that singing which is highly "antical" is certainly not conducive to worshipping God as we should. Perhaps if we would give more heed to the power in song, we would learn to use it more effectively. If we want people to dance, then we just have to play the proper music and they will. If we want people to worship, we need only to sing worshipful songs. Spirited, joyful songs are a part of worship, just as much as thoughtful hymns; but there is without doubt, a place to stop with these jazzy, jumpy, jivvy jingles put out for church music. I Cor. 14:40 We should also give heed to our teaching in song. "Is it Scriptural?" should be our prime thought about every song we sing. How easy it is for us to teach error in our singing when we sing those errors again and again. How can we expect to teach the truth with unscriptural songs? How can we speak one to another as commanded, (Eph. 5:19) if we sing songs that have no sense, no meaning, no scriptural teaching, and so written as to require a juggler to sing them? If we will let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, then in wisdom we can teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts unto God. (Col. 3:16) Our main problem is getting enough of Christ "in" us, and the church, that He can't help but come out. Even as Paul and Silas, being afflicted and in prison, sang for joy, so should we sing when down cast. (Acts 16:25) When things go well and when we are cheerful and happy we should sing. (James 5:13) With our singing then we can conquer sin and win sinners to Christ, and having won souls for Him, we can win eternal life for ourselves. Then in resurrection day, we can go "singing all the way to heaven," hearing the "new song" of victory roll forth from the city if God. What would it be just to hear the righteous saints of God as they sing at the throne of the Lamb, praising Him for all eternity? (Rev. 14:2-3)

Perhaps salvation is not important enough to some to give heed to little things, but it should be, and we ought to evaluate our attitude in our singing and all that we do toward God. Maybe as the "Denominations," we aren't "mechanical," but in attitude sometimes we are more "denominationalized" than those about us. Can we say that we are pleasing God with our singing—wherever, and whoever, we are? Why not give heed to pleasing God, and God alone in all that we do?