The Ministry of Song
A Soul-saving Instrumentality.--The melody of song, poured forth from many hearts in clear, distinct utterance, is one of God's instrumentalities in the work of saving souls.--Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 493. (1889)
The Power of Song.--As the children of Israel, journeying through the wilderness, cheered their way by the music of sacred song, so God bids His children today gladden their pilgrim life. There are few means more effective for fixing His words in the memory than repeating them in song. And such song has wonderful power. It has power to subdue rude and uncultivated natures; power to quicken thought and to awaken sympathy, to promote harmony of action, and to banish the gloom and foreboding that destroy courage and weaken effort.
It is one of the most effective means of impressing the heart with spiritual truth. How often to the soul hard-pressed and ready to despair, memory recalls some word of God's--the long forgotten burden of a childhood song--and temptations lose their power, life takes on new meaning and new purpose, and courage and gladness are imparted to other souls!-- Education,pp. 167, 168. (1903)
A Continual Sermon.--These words [song of Moses] were repeated unto all Israel, and formed a song which was often sung, poured forth in exalted strains of melody.
This was the wisdom of Moses to present the truth to them in song, that in strains of melody they should become familiar with them, and be impressed upon the minds of the whole nation, young and old. It was important for the children to learn the song; for this would speak to them, to warn, to restrain, to reprove, and encourage. It was a continual sermon. -- Manuscript 71, 1897.
Far-reaching Influence.--The service of song was made a regular part of religious worship, and David composed psalms, not only for the use of the priests in the sanctuary service, but also to be sung by the people in their journeys to the national altar at the annual feasts. The influence thus exerted was far-reaching, and it resulted in freeing the nation from idolatry. Many of the surrounding peoples, beholding the prosperity of Israel, were led to think favorably of Israel's God, who had done such great things for His people. -- Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 711. (1890)
Attracting to the Truth.--A few nights since, my mind was much troubled in contemplating what we could do to get the truth before the people in these large cities. We are sure if they would only hear the message, some would receive the truth and in their turn communicate it to others.
The ministers warn their congregations and say it is dangerous doctrine that is presented, and if they go out to hear they will be deceived and deluded with this strange doctrine. The prejudices would be removed if we could get the people out to hear. We are praying over this matter and believe that the Lord will make a place for the message of warning and instruction to come to the people in these last days.
One night I seemed to be in a council meeting where these matters were being talked over. And a
very grave, dignified man said, "You are praying for the Lord to raise up men and women of talent to give themselves to the work. You have talent in your midst which needs to be recognized." Several wise propositions were made and then words were spoken in substance as I write them. He said, "I call your attention to the singing talent which should be cultivated; for the human voice in singing is one of God's entrusted talents to be employed to His glory. The enemy of righteousness makes a great account of this talent in his service. And that which is the gift of God, to be a blessing to souls, is perverted, misapplied, and serves the purpose of Satan. This talent of voice is a blessing if consecrated to the Lord to serve His cause. _____ has talent, but it is not appreciated. Her position should be considered and her talent will attract the people, and they will hear the message of truth. -- Letter 62, 1893.
A Connecting Link With God.--There must be a living connection with God in prayer, a living connection with God in songs of praise and thanksgiving.-- Letter 96, 1898.
To Resist the Enemy.--When Christ was a child like these children here, He was tempted to sin, but He did not yield to temptation. As He grew older He was tempted, but the songs His mother had taught Him to sing came into His mind, and He would lift His voice in praise. And before His companions were aware of it, they would be singing with Him. God wants us to use every facility which Heaven has provided for resisting the enemy.-- Manuscript 65, 1901.
Bringing Heaven's Gladness.--The early morning often found Him in some secluded place, meditating, searching the Scriptures, or in prayer. With the voice of singing He welcomed the morning light. With
songs of thanksgiving He cheered His hours of labor, and brought heaven's gladness to the toil-worn and disheartened.-- Ministry of Healing, p. 52. (1905)
The Song of Praise.--Often He expressed the gladness of His heart by singing psalms and heavenly songs. Often the dwellers in Nazareth heard His voice raised in praise and thanksgiving to God. He held communion with heaven in song; and as His companions complained of weariness from labor, they were cheered by the sweet melody from His lips. His praise seemed to banish the evil angels, and, like incense, fill the place with fragrance. The minds of His hearers were carried away from their earthly exile, to the heavenly home.-- The Desire of Ages, p. 73, 74.
A Weapon Against Discouragement.--If there was much more praising the Lord, and far less doleful recitation of discouragements, many more victories would be achieved.-- Letter 53, 1896.
Let praise and thanksgiving be expressed in song. When tempted, instead of giving utterance to our feelings, let us by faith lift up a song of thanksgiving to God.
Song is a weapon that we can always use against discouragement. As we thus open the heart to the sunlight of the Saviour's presence, we shall have health and His blessing.-- Ministry of Healing, p. 254. (1905)
To Conserve Christian Experience.--Evening and morning join with your children in God's worship, reading His Word and singing His praise. Teach them to repeat God's law. Concerning the commandments, the Israelites were instructed: "Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." Accordingly, Moses
directed the Israelites to set the words of the law to music. While the older children played on instruments, the younger ones marched, singing in concert the song of God's commandments. In later years they retained in their minds the words of the law which they learned during childhood.
If it was essential for Moses to embody the commandments in sacred song, so that as they marched in the wilderness, the children could learn to sing the law verse by verse, how essential it is at this time to teach our children God's Word! Let us come up to the help of the Lord, instructing our children to keep the commandments to the letter. Let us do everything in our power to make music in our homes, that God may come in.-- Review and Herald, Sept. 8, 1904.
All Heaven Echoes the Note of Joy.--We must bear in mind the great joy manifested by the Shepherd at the recovery of the lost. He calls upon His neighbors, "Rejoice with Me; for I have found My sheep which was lost." And all heaven echoes the note of joy. The Father Himself joys over the rescued one with singing. What a holy ecstasy of joy is expressed in this parable! That joy it is your privilege to share. -- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 125. (1900)
Music in Evangelism
To Impress Spiritual Truth.--Song is one of the most effective means of impressing spiritual truth upon the heart. Often by the words of sacred song, the springs of penitence and faith have been unsealed. -- Review and Herald, June 6, 1912.
Musical Instruments.--Let the talent of singing be brought into the work. The use of musical instruments
is not at all objectionable. There were used in religious services in ancient times. The worshipers praised God upon the harp and cymbal, and music should have its place in our services. It will add to the interest.-- Letter 132, 1898.
Song Service Not a Concert.--The presentation before me was that if Elder _____ would heed the counsel of his brethren, and not rush on in the way he does in making a great effort to secure large congregations, he would have more influence for good, and his work would have a more telling effect. He should cut off from his meetings everything that has a semblance of theatrical display; for such outward appearances give no strength to the message that he bears. When the Lord can co-operate with him, his work will not need to be done in so expensive a manner. He will not need then to go to so much expense in advertising his meetings. He will not place so much dependence on the musical program. This part of his services is conducted more after the order of a concert in a theater, than a song service in a religious meeting. -- Letter 49, 1902.
Longing for the Word.--The hearts of many in the world as well as many church members are hungering for the bread of life and thirsting for the waters of salvation. They are interested in the service of song, but they are not longing for that or even prayer. They want to know the Scriptures. What saith the Word of God to me? The Holy Spirit is working on mind and heart, drawing them to the bread of life. They see everything round them changing. Human feelings, human ideas of what constitutes religion, change. They come to hear the Word just as it reads. --Manuscript 11, 1899.
The Theme of Every Song.--The science of salvation is to be the burden of every sermon, the theme of every song. Let it be poured forth in every supplication.-- Manuscript 107, 1898.
Avoid Emotionalism.--Still others go to the opposite extreme, making religious emotions prominent, and on special occasions manifesting intense zeal. Their religion seems to be more of the nature of a stimulus rather than an abiding faith in Christ.
True ministers know the value of the inward working of the Holy Spirit upon human hearts. They are content with simplicity in religious services. Instead of making much of popular singing, they give their principal attention to the study of the Word, and render praise to God from the heart. Above the outward adorning they regard the inward adorning, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. In their mouths is found no guile.-- Manuscript 21 1891.
Ministry of Song in Homes.--Students, go out into the highways and the hedges. Endeavor to reach the higher as well as the lower classes. Enter the homes of the rich and the poor, and as you have opportunity, ask, "Would you be pleased to have us sing? We should be glad to hold a song service with you." Then as hearts are softened, the way may open for you to offer a few words of prayer for the blessing of God. Not many will refuse.-- Review and Herald, Aug. 27, 1903.
In House-to-House Ministry.--Learn to sing the simplest of songs. These will help you in house-to-house labor, and hearts will be touched by the influence of the Holy Spirit. . . . We learn from the Word that there is joy among the angels over one repentant sinner, and that the Lord Himself rejoices over His
church with singing.-- Review and Herald, Nov. 11, 1902.
Calling for Decisions in Song.--In my dreams last night I was speaking to a company of young men. I asked them to sing "Almost Persuaded." Some present were deeply moved. I knew that they were almost persuaded, but that if they did not make decided efforts to return to Christ, the conviction of their sinfulness would leave them. You made some confessions, and I asked you, "Will you not from this time stand on the Lord's side?" If you will receive Jesus, He will receive you.-- Letter 137, 1904.
Experience With Song Service on the Cars.--On Sabbath we had a song service. Brother Lawrence, who is a musician, led the singing. All the passengers in the car seemed to enjoy the service greatly, many of them joining in the singing.
On Sunday we had another song service, after which Elder Corliss gave a short talk, taking as his text the words, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." The passengers listened attentively and seemed to enjoy what was said.
On Monday we had more singing, and we all seemed to be drawing closer together.-- Letter 135, 1905.
Music in the New Earth.--Those who, regardless of all else, place themselves in God's hands, to be and do all that He would have them, will see the King in His beauty. They will behold His matchless charms, and, touching their golden harps, they will fill all heaven with rich music and with songs to the Lamb.
I am glad to hear the musical instruments that you have here. God wants us to have them. He wants us to praise Him with heart and soul and voice,
magnifying His name before the world.-- Review and Herald, June 15, 1905.
The Singing Evangelist
Preparing for Song Evangelism.--There should be much more interest in voice culture than is now generally manifested. Students who have learned to sing sweet gospel songs with melody and distinctness can do much good as singing evangelists. They will find many opportunities to use the talent that God has given them, carrying melody and sunshine into many lonely places darkened by sin and sorrow and affliction, singing to those who seldom have church privileges. -- Review and Herald, Aug. 27, 1903.
A Power to Win Souls.--There is great pathos and music in the human voice, and if the learner will make determined efforts, he will acquire habits of talking and singing that will be to him a power to win souls to Christ.-- Manuscript 22, 1886.
Bearing a Special Message in Song.--There are those who have a special gift of song, and there are times when a special message is borne by one singing alone or by several uniting in song. But the singing is seldom to be done by a few. The ability to sing is a talent of influence, which God desires all to cultivate and use to His name's glory.-- Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 115, 116. (1902)
Clear Intonations--Distinct Utterance.--No words can properly set forth the deep blessedness of genuine worship. When human beings sing with the Spirit and the understanding, heavenly musicians take up the strain, and join in the song of thanksgiving. He who has bestowed upon us all the gifts that enable us
to be workers together with God, expects His servants to cultivate their voices, so that they can speak and sing in a way that all can understand. It is not loud singing that is needed, but clear intonation, correct pronunciation, and distinct utterance. Let all take time to cultivate the voice, so that God's praise can be sung in clear, soft tones, not with harshness and shrillness that offend the ear. The ability to sing is the gift of God; let it be used to His glory.-- Testimonies, vol. 9, pp. 143, 144. (1909)
Factors in Effectual Music.--Music can be a great power for good; yet we do not make the most of this branch of worship. The singing is generally done from impulse or to meet special cases, and at other times those who sing are left to blunder along, and the music loses its proper effect upon the minds of those present. Music should have beauty, pathos, and power. Let the voices be lifted in songs of praise and devotion. Call to your aid, if practicable, instrumental music, and let the glorious harmony ascend to God, an acceptable offering.
But it is sometimes more difficult to discipline the singers and keep them in working order, than to improve the habits of praying and exhorting. Many want to do things after their own style; they object to consultation, and are impatient under leadership. Well-matured plans are needed in the service of God. Common sense is an excellent thing in the worship of the Lord.--Gospel Workers, p. 325. (1892)
The Heavenly Song Director.--I have been shown the order, the perfect order, of heaven, and have been enraptured as I listened to the perfect music there. After coming out of vision, the singing here has sounded very harsh and discordant. I have seen companies of angels, who stood in a hollow square, every
one having a harp of gold. . . . There is one angel who always leads, who first touches the harp and strikes the note, then all join in the rich, perfect music of heaven. It cannot be described. It is melody, heavenly, divine, while from every countenance beams the image of Jesus, shining with glory unspeakable.-- Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 146. (1857)
A Well-directed Song Program.--A minister should not give out hymns to be sung until it has first been ascertained that they are familiar to those who sing. A proper person should be appointed to take charge of this exercise, and it should be his duty to see that such hymns are selected as can be sung with the spirit and with the understanding also.
Singing is a part of the worship of God, but in the bungling manner in which it is often conducted, it is no credit to the truth, and no honor to God. There should be system and order in this as well as every other part of the Lord's work. Organize a company of the best singers, whose voices can lead the congregation, and then let all who will, unite with them. Those who sing should make an effort to sing in harmony; they should devote some time to practice, that they may employ this talent to the glory of God.
But singing should not be allowed to divert the mind from the hours of devotion. If one must be neglected, let it be the singing.-- Review and Herald, July 24, 1883.
Attractiveness of the Human Voice.--The human voice that sings the music of God from a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving is far more pleasing to Him than the melody of all the musical instruments ever invented by human hands.-- Letter 2c, 1892.
Cautions.--I was taken into some of your singing exercises, and was made to read the feelings that existed in the company, you being the prominent one. There were petty jealousies, envy, evil surmisings, and evil speaking. . . . The heart service is what God requires; the forms and lip service are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Your singing is for display, not to praise God with the spirit and understanding. The state of the heart reveals the quality of the religion of the professor of godliness.-- Letter 1a, 1890.
Choir and Congregational Singing.--In the meetings held, let a number be chosen to take part in the song service. And let the singing be accompanied with musical instruments skilfully handled. We are not to oppose the use of instrumental music in our work. This part of the service is to be carefully conducted; for it is the praise of God in song.
The singing is not always to be done by a few. As often as possible, let the entire congregation join.-- Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 144. (1909)
The Song Service.--The singing should not be done by a few only. All present should be encouraged to join in the song service.-- Letter 157, 1902.
Approach Harmony of Heavenly Choir.--Music forms a part of God's worship in the courts above. We should endeavor in our songs of praise to approach as nearly as possible to the harmony of the heavenly choirs. I have often been pained to hear untrained voices, pitched to the highest key, literally shrieking the sacred words of some hymn of praise. How inappropriate those sharp, rasping voices for the solemn,
joyous worship of God. I long to stop my ears, or flee from the place, and I rejoice when the painful exercise is ended.
Those who make singing a part of divine worship should select hymns with music appropriate to the occasion, not funeral notes, but cheerful, yet solemn melodies. The voice can and should be modulated, softened, and subdued.-- Signs of the Times, June 22, 1882.
With Heart and Understanding.--I saw that all should sing with the spirit and with the understanding also. God is not pleased with jargon and discord. Right is always more pleasing to Him than wrong. And the nearer the people of God can approach to correct, harmonious singing, the more is He glorified, the church benefited, and unbelievers favorably affected. --Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 146. (1857)
Without Spirit and Understanding.--Many are singing beautiful songs in the meetings, songs of what they will do, and what they mean to do; but some do not do these things; they do not sing with the spirit and the understanding also. So in the reading of the Word of God, some are not benefited, because they do not take it into their very life, they do not practice it. -- Review and Herald, Sept. 27, 1892.
The Music Personnel
Those Whose Hearts Are in the Effort.--In their efforts to reach the people, the Lord's messengers are not to follow the ways of the world. In the meetings that are held, they are not to depend on worldly singers and theatrical display to awaken an interest. How can those who have no interest in the Word of God,
who have never read His Word with a sincere desire to understand its truths, be expected to sing with the spirit and the understanding? How can their hearts be in harmony with the words of sacred song? How can the heavenly choir join in music that is only a form?-- Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 143. (1909)
Only Sweet, Simple Singing.--How can God be glorified when you depend for your singing on a worldly choir that sings for money? My brother, when you see these things in a right light, you will have in your meetings only sweet, simple singing, and you will ask the whole congregation to join in the song. What if among those present there are some whose voices are not so musical as the voices of others. When the singing is such that angels can unite with the singers, an impression is made on minds that singing from unsanctified lips cannot make.-- Letter 190, 1902.
Worldly Musicians.--Do not hire worldly musicians if this can possibly be avoided. Gather together singers who will sing with the spirit and with the understanding also. The extra display which you sometimes make entails unnecessary expense, which the brethren should not be asked to meet; and you will find that after a time unbelievers will not be willing to give money to meet these expenses.-- Letter 51, 1902.
Accepting Musical Help Offered.--In the meetings held the singing should not be neglected. God can be glorified by this part of the service. And when singers offer their services, they should be accepted. But money should not be used to hire singers. Often the singing of simple hymns by the congregation has a charm that is not possessed by the singing of a choir, however skilled it may be.-- Letter 49, 1902.
Music That Offends God.--Display is not religion nor sanctification. There is nothing more offensive in God's sight than a display of instrumental music when those taking part are not consecrated, are not making melody in their hearts to the Lord. The offering most sweet and acceptable in God's sight is a heart made humble by self-denial, by lifting the cross and following Jesus.
We have no time now to spend in seeking those things that only please the senses. Close heart searching is needed. With tears and heartbroken confession we need to draw nigh to God that He may draw nigh to us.-- Review and Herald, Nov. 14, 1899.
God Glorified.--God is glorified by songs of praise from a pure heart filled with love and devotion to Him.-- Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 509. (1867)
Qualities of Good Music.--Great improvement can be made in singing. Some think that the louder they sing the more music they make; but noise is not music. Good singing is like the music of the birds--subdued and melodious.
In some of our churches I have heard solos that were altogether unsuitable for the service of the Lord's house. The long-drawn-out notes and the peculiar sounds common in operatic singing are not pleasing to the angels. They delight to hear the simple songs of praise sung in a natural tone. The songs in which every word is uttered clearly, in a musical tone, are the songs that they join us in singing. They take up the refrain that is sung from the heart with the spirit and the understanding.-- Manuscript 91, 1903.
Proper Balance in Time Given to Singing.-- Improvements can be made in our manner of conducting camp meetings, so that all who attend may receive more direct labor. There are some social meetings held in the large tent, where all assemble for worship; but these are so large that only a small number can take part, and many speak so low that but few can hear them. . . . In some instances much time was devoted to singing. There was a long hymn before prayer, a long hymn after prayer, and much singing interspersed all through the meeting. Thus golden moments were used unwisely, and not one-half the good was done that might have been realized had these precious seasons been properly managed.-- Review and Herald, Nov. 27, 1883.
Ceremony and Display.--Form and ceremony do not constitute the kingdom of God. Ceremonies become multitudinous and extravagant as the vital principles of the kingdom of God are lost. But it is not form and ceremony that Christ requires. He hungers to receive from His vineyard fruit in holiness and unselfishness, deeds of goodness, mercy, and truth.
Gorgeous apparel, fine singing, and instrumental music in the church do not call forth the songs of the angel choir. In the sight of God these things are like the branches of the unfruitful fig tree which bore nothing but pretentious leaves. Christ looks for fruit, for principles of goodness and sympathy and love. These are the principles of heaven, and when they are revealed in the lives of human beings, we may know that Christ is formed within, the hope and glory. A congregation may be the poorest in the land, without music or outward show, but if it possesses these principles, the members can sing, for the joy of Christ is
in their souls, and this they can offer as a sweet oblation to God.-- Manuscript 123, 1899.
Music Acceptable to God.--The superfluities which have been brought into the worship in _____ must be strenuously avoided. . . . Music is acceptable to God only when the heart is sanctified and made soft and holy by its facilities. But many who delight in music know nothing of making melody in their hearts to the Lord. Their heart is gone "after their idols." -- Letter198, 1899.
A Misuse of Music.--When professing Christians reach the high standard which it is their privilege to reach, the simplicity of Christ will be maintained in all their worship. Forms and ceremonies and musical accomplishments are not the strength of the church. Yet these things have taken the place of God should have, even as they did in the worship of the Jews.
The Lord has revealed to me that when the heart is cleansed and sanctified, and the members of the church are partakers of the divine nature, a power will go forth from the church, who believe the truth, that will cause melody in the heart. Men and women will not then depend upon their instrumental music but on the power and grace of God, which will give fullness of joy. There is a work to be done in clearing away the rubbish which has been brought into the church. . . .
This message is not only for the church at _____, but for every other church that has followed her example.-- Manuscript 157, 1899.