LET US LIVE WHAT WE SING
It would be impossible to calculate that part of the wealth of the Church which is resident in her hymnody. Congregations singing with grace in their hearts to the Lord engage in an act of worship worthy of the cherubim.
Our hymns for the most part are full of good truth and good doctrine and often, like the Psalms of David, speak the universal language of the should, thereby furnishing us with the menas of saying with our lips what our hearts have tried vainly to express.
Repeated singing of the hymns of the Church serves to fix them firmly in our minds; thus without =conscious effort we have, through the years, accumulated in our memories a vast store of hymns and spiritual songs.
How many times in the dark night of our experience, when tested almost beyond endurance, has the Lord reassured us as we found ourselves singing in our soul:
“Fear not, I am with thee, Oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious omnipotent hand.”
If not these words, then some others have come to us out of that treasure of which we are scarcely aware, and have become to us literally “songs in the night.”
But with our hymns, as with everything else, there is danger in familiarity. We are likely to take them for granted. We sing them so automatically that they do not mean to us all that they could and should. Equally as bad is the possibility of singing far beyond our own experience, and remaining unconcerned about the disparity.
In some of our hymns and songs we make promises to the Lord, in others we identify ourselves with Him, and in yet others we rejoice, we worship, we trust-and all this while our lives “are trailing in sordid dust.”
How many of us coldly sing “Tis burning in my soul!” Or it may be that one, who during the week has been out on devious detours from the highway of holiness, finds himself unconsciously and untruthfully singing on Sunday morning “Where He leads me I will follow,” or “Tis so sweet to walk with Jesus.”
How many have forgotten in the heat of some fiery trial, that only the Sunday before they had stood to sing, “Ready ot suffer grief or pain, Ready to stand the test…” and how many, content with heir own carnality, take up the refrain, “I long, Oh, I long to be holy.”
In a day of jet-propulsion, when even the ministry has become air=borne (but not with wings like eagles), we breathlessly rush into the sanctuary and sing to ourselves good advice that we do not heed, “Take time to be holy,” and though guilty of long-interrupted devotions, continue with the words, “Speak oft with thy Lord.”
“O Thou in whose presence my soul takes delight” is sung by thousands who have not taken pains to cultivate that Presence and will not do so because they would be uncomfortable in it.
How often we sing “I’ve enlisted for life in the army of the Lord,” when in reality we are superannuated soldiers who for the most part have been non-combatants; yet without missing a note we boast “At the front of the battle you will find me.”
“I’ll live my life the world around, in presence or in prayer,” we often sing, when the truth is that our spiritual geography and prayer expeditions are limited to the range of our own little horizon.
There are times when out of downright honesty we ought to refrain from singing “Nothing between my soul and the Saviour.” Should we stand convicted by the words we cannot truthfully sing, we ought then and there to settle the matter that has long stood between our Lord and us.
We owe a great debt to those who have in our hymns bequeathed to us such a rich and precious heritage. Let us make the best possible use of our inheritance, and be done with merely parroting the words that should be sung only with depths of reverent meaning. Like Paul, let us determine that we shall sing “with the spirit…and with the understanding also.” Then with hearts tuned to sing His praise, come into His presence singing as we have never sung before-
Oh, worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing His wonderful love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.”
TOZER EDITORIAL: LET US LIVE WHAT WE SING is from Alliance Weekly 16 December 1950. This may not actually be an editorial from Dr. Tozer, the initials R.W.B. at the end may signify another writer although not stated in the magazine nor has it ever been published in any of Tozer’s books. It is still a very good article.