Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
GEORGE SWINNOCK (1627-1673): The water of saints’ praises is drawn out of a deep spring―the heart.
J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Heartless hymns are insults to heaven.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Praise is not comely from unpardoned professional singers; it is like a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout. Crooked hearts make crooked music, but the upright are the Lord’s delight.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): One should be very careful therefore in appointing an organist to make sure that he is a Christian. And if you have choirs you should insist upon the same with every member of the choir. The first [requirement] should not be the voice, but the Christian character, the love of the Truth, and a delight in singing it. That is the way to avoid organist tyranny and the sister-trouble choir tyranny.
THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Praise is comely for the upright, Psalm 33:1. Praise is not comely for any but the godly. A profane man stuck with God’s praise is like dunghill stuck with flowers…Praise is a soul in flower.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Praising and adoring God is the noblest part of the saint’s work on earth, as it will be his chief employ in heaven.
ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): If an unholy man were to get to heaven he would feel like a hog in a flower garden.
J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It does seem clear that heaven would be a miserable place to an unholy man. It cannot be otherwise.
AUGUSTINE (354-430): When thou singest a hymn, thou praisest God, but what doth thy tongue, unless thy heart also praise Him?
THOMAS WATSON: Praise in the mouth of a sinner is like an oracle in the mouth of a fool: how uncomely is it for him to praise God, whose whole life is a dishonouring of God? It is as indecent for wicked man to praise God, who goes on in sinful practices, as it is for an usurer to talk of living by faith, or for the devil to quote Scripture. The godly are only fit to be choristers in God’s praise; it is called, “the garment of praise,” Isaiah 61:3. The garment sits handsome only on a saint’s back.
C. H. SPURGEON: It is to be feared that very much even of religious singing is not unto the Lord, but unto the ear of the congregation: above all things we must in our service of song take care that all we offer is with the heart’s sincerest and most fervent intent directed towards the Lord Himself…Sing not for ostentation, but devotion; not to be heard of men, but of the Lord Himself. Sing not to the congregation, but “unto God.”
C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): It certainly is a very great evil in singing to forget the subject and object of our song, and become occupied with the style and effect of our singing.
JOHN WELLS (circa 1668): In the ordinance of singing, we must not make noise, but music, and the heart must make melody to the Lord. Augustine complained of some in his time, that “they minded more the tune than the truth; more the manner than the matter; more the governing of the voice, than the uplifting of the mind;” and this was a great offence to him. Singing of psalms should be a joyous breathing of an elevated soul; here the cleanness of the heart is more important than the clearness of the voice. In this service we must study more to act the Christian than the musician. Many in their singing of psalms are like organs, whose pipes are filled only with wind. The apostle tells us we must sing with our hearts.
J. C. PHILPOT: Tunes should be suitable to the hymns. A solemn tune and a lively hymn―how alike inconsistent! As some singers have no ear, so some leaders have no judgment. They will choose a lively tune full of [chorus] repeats to a hymn on the sufferings of Christ, and a slow solemn air to a hymn of joyful praise. Such persons, were they masters of bands, would play Saul’s [Death] March at a wedding, or a Scotch reel at a funeral! Our next hint is, that the singing should be neither too fast or too slow. Too fast is quite unbecoming a spiritual service. Hymns are not to be sung any more to jig time than to jig tune…The opposite fault―to drawl over a hymn―makes the singing sometimes insufferably tedious. One hint more and we have finished our singing lecture―long enough, in all conscience, for all, and too long by half for that thin-skinned race―singers. It is a great mistake to sing too many verses.
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Above all, sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself or any other creature. In order to do this, attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually.
C. H. SPURGEON: Singing, as it is a joyful, and at the same time a devout, exercise, should be a constant form of approach to God. The measured, harmonious, hearty utterance of praise by a congregation of really devout persons is not merely decorous but delightful, and is a fit anticipation of the worship of heaven.
A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.
J. C. RYLE: Our hearts must be in tune for heaven if we are to enjoy it.
AUGUSTUS TOPLADY (1713-1778): But remember, reader, that “none can” truly and savingly “learn the Song of the Lamb” who are not “redeemed from the earth” by His most precious blood, Revelation 14:3.
JOHN WELLS: If we are not in Christ, we are certainly out of tune.
C. H. SPURGEON: Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me, saith the Lord. Sing then, my brethren! Sing not only when you are together but sing alone. Cheer your labour with psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. Make glad the family with sacred music.