“Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” Ephesians 5:19
Country Music artist Trisha Yearwood released a hit song in 1993 entitled “The Song Remembers When”. It describes how a memory that is all but forgotten can be resurrected simply by hearing a certain song. Studies have shown that patients with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease can often tap a beat to music, or sing along to lyrics known from childhood. In addition, music has the power to soothe troubled hearts; think of King Saul being soothed by David’s playing of the harp (1 Samuel 16:23).
Both music and singing play a vital role in our Sunday worship services. John Piper has said, “A congregation learns its theology, and takes it down into the crevices of their soul, by the songs that they sing, not just by the preaching they hear.” This is the reason that we strive to sing only gospel-focused, Christ-centred, God-glorifying songs here at NFBC.
Scripture commands us to sing to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Commentators are not agreed as to the unique distinctions between these three categories. It may be safe to assume that the Psalms generally refer to the songs of the Old Testament, which looked forward with anticipation to the Messiah, while Hymns are those composed in the New Testament and describe in a fuller way the glories of the Messiah and the gospel!
Isaac Watts, a prolific writer, who is credited with writing some 750 hymns, has taken many of the indistinct truths of the Psalms, found the fulfillment of those shadows in Christ, and written glorious hymns of the gospel! Watts said, “Where [the Psalmist] speaks of pardon of sin through the mercies of God, I have added the merits of a Saviour. Where he talks of sacrificing goats and bullocks, I rather mention the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God.”
One of the ways to honour the command of Ephesians 5:19, is to sing these rich hymns to ourselves and with our families. Family singing is an enjoyable exercise with the great benefit of storing rich theology in the crevices of the souls of our children and grandchildren – stored to be remembered exactly when needed, to God’s eternal glory! (It is our intent to use the Pilgrim’s Path for the summer months to take a brief look at several of our favourite hymns.)