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It is said, “ The master of the song,
» or car. riage, “ was with the singers.” Some say, He car. ried or conducted the song, and gave all the singers the time by a motion of his hand. Hence their voices
as one to make one sound.” We may form some conception of the solemnity with which the temple worship among the Jews was conducted, by those allusions to it, which we find in the book of the Revelation. St. John, describing the heavenly worship, says, “ The four living creatures or cherubims, and the four and twenty elders, fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them golden harps, and they sung a new song.” As soon as they struck the song, he says, “I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the four cherubims and the elders, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that.was slain.” No sooner had the mul. titude of angels joined their voices, than all nature was tuned to harmony, and creation was one universal concert, like the whole congregation of Israel joining with the priests and Levites in the songs of the temple.
Every creature in heaven, and earth, and under the earth, heard I saying, Blessing, and glory, and honor, and power be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.”_" And the four cherubims said, AMEN.-They made a solemn pause in the music. Whereupon the four and twenty elders fell prostrate before the throne, in humble adoration. This alludes to a custom in the temple worship, of making pauses in singing. The Jewish writers say, that in each psalm were made three intermissions, during which the trumpets continued the sound ; and then the people fell down and worshipped.
John represents this new song in the heavenly teníple, as being several times repeated with little variety. Here is a manifest allusion to the manner of singing in the temple. · When the chief singers began the song, the chosen choir, standing near them, round about the
altar, struck in with them. And certain emphatical parts of the song were repeated. In these repetitions the assembly joined their voices. That such repeti. tions were usual in the temple music, is evident from the manner in which sundry psalms are composed.
It appears, that this branch of worship in the Jewish church was conducted with great order and solemnity; and the frequent allusions to it in the New Testament, shew that it is still of equal importance, and ought to be conducted, not indeed with all the same ceremonies, but with equal seriousness and devotion. This leads me to observe,
IV. That in singing wé must“ make melody in our hearts to the Lord.”
If singing is a part of religious worship, then this, as well as our prayers, must be directed to God.
We must sing in obedience to his command-with a sense of his presence with hearts disposed for his service--with affections corresponding to the matter of the psalm. If the subject be a petition, confession, thanksgiving, or adoration, our hearts must harmonize with it, and beat time to it. When we make a psalm' our own, and offer it to God with suitablé sentiments, then we“ sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord.” The melody of the heart is the consent of all the pow- . ers and affections of the soul in the service of God.
We must sing with a spirit of benevolence, peace and condescension to one another, and to all men. “ When ye stand praying,” says our Lord, “ forgive, if ye have ought against any man.” We must do the same when we stand singing. We must bring into the worship of God-into our songs, as well as prayers, a social, meek and quiet spirit.-"Speak to yourselves,” or to one another, “ in psalms, and let the peace of God rule in your hearts-teach and admonish one another in spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” We sing with grace and melody, when our devout affections charm down our earthly
passions, quiet their tumults, compose all jarring discords, all discontents, anxieties, envies and jealousies, and smooth the soul into peace, gratitude, hope and joy.
One end of social worship, and particularly of singing, is to improve a friendly and benevolent temper. “ Be like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus, that ye may with one mind, and one mouth glorify God.” Can we join our voices in singing the same spiritual songs to the same universal
pa. rent, and at the same time forget our mutual relation, and our obligation to mutual love ? In the music itself there is something adapted to promote a kind and social disposition. The harmonious coincidence, the sweet symphony of different voices teaches our hearts to mingle in Christian duties, hushes tumultuous passions, and expels the evil spirit of pride, envy, malice and discord. When David touched his harp, Saul's evil spirit fled. The man who can hear holy anthems sung to the universal parent, with voices sweetly mingling and harmonizing together, and not feel him. self softened into benevolence and love, and moulded into condescension and peace, must have a soul rugged as the rocks, and stubborn as an oak.
1. If singing is an instituted part of divine worship, all should take a share in it. Some through want of natural capacity, early education, or favorable opportunity, may be unable to join their voices in this exercise. . But these, no less than others, should be concerned to make melody in their hearts.
2. From our subject we learn, that every one according to his ability, is bound to promote the psalmody of the church. As many as are capable should encourage it by acquiring the necessary skill, and taking an active part in it. They who cannot do this, should be more solicitous to promote the object in other ways Vol. III.
by furnishing those under their care with the means of instruction-by giving countenance to a revival of sacred music, when it declines, and by cheerfully imparting their money in the cause, as occasion requires. From principles of common equity, as well as from examples recorded in scripture, it is manifest, that the expense of maintaining the psalmody of the church should be assumed by the community, and not left wholly on them who perform the service.
3. Let this thought be deeply impressed on every heart, that psalmody is a branch of divine worship. Let it be regarded, not as a theatrical exhibition, but as a religious solemnity.
When we see an assembly united in the praises of God, hear them sing divine songs with all the charms of music; and, at the same time, behold in their appearance that gravity, sedateness and reverence, which indicate their souls to be impressed with divine things ; we are raptured and transported; we are carried into the throngs of God's ancient temple ; we almost imagine ourselves in the midst of the heavenly assembly. But if, on the contrary, we observe a behavior, which bespeaks pride, passion, irreverence and levity, we lose the charms of music-we are shocked and confounded. As you regard the honor of God's worship, and your own and the common edification, conduct your psalmody with that gravity, peace and love, which become God's house for ever; and apply this and every part of worship to your preparation for the higher solemnities of God's temple in heaven.
Imagine you saw heaven opened, and the choirs of angels standing before the throne of God; imagine you heard them tuning their harps and voices in anthems of praise to the great Creator of the universe, and the gracious Redeemer of fallen men : Will not the thought elevate you above the dull delights of earth, and prompt a wish to rise and mingle with the celestial worshippers ? --Imagine you beheld the Lamb
standing on mount Zion, and with him the happy thousands who have his Father's name written in their foreheads; and from thence heard a voice, as the sound of many waters and as the noise of mighty thunder, the music of harpers playing on their harps, and the voice of singers singing their new song, which none but the redeemed can learn ; would you not wish to join the joyful assembly and mingle your voice with theirs ?--Imagine you heard them crying with a loud voice, “Salvation to our God and to the Lamb,” and saw them falling before the throne and worshipping God in strains like this, “ Amen ; blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and strength, be unto God forever and ever, Amen ; would not your souls at such a view, kindle into devo. tion and love, and burst into songs of praise - This view of the worshipping assembly above is held forth to us, that we may learn and imitate their piety. En. deavor then so to worship God by singing and all other appointed forms, that you may be admitted to join
your voice with theirs in singing the glories of God and the Redeemer through eternal ages.