Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 10 October 2014
Page 9

Songs of Praise

Raymond Elliot“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You” (Hebrews 13:15; 2:12). Recently in our worship assembly on Sunday morning, the song leader had us to pause for a time of silence and to concentrate on why we had assembled. He then announced the numbers of the first two songs he had selected for the congregation to sing. He asked us to stand and sing. The songs he had carefully selected were songs of praise. The first one was entitled, “We Shall Assemble.” The lyrics clearly set the tone for our coming together as the children of God: “We shall assemble on the mountain, we shall assemble at the throne. With humble hearts into His presence, we bring an offering of song. Glory and honor and dominion unto the Lamb, unto the King. Oh, hallelujah, hallelujah! We sing the song of the redeemed.” The following three hymns we sang were all songs of praise and adoration rendered to our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. They were, “To God Be the Glory,” “Glorify Thy Name” and “Worthy Art Thou.” When it came time to partake of the Supper of our Lord, there really was no reason to have a song “to help us prepare for the communion.” Our hearts had been concentrating on our Lord and Savior. I could not help but to be moved emotionally as we sang these songs that spoke of the glory of God, the Lamb and the love manifested for us on Calvary. Oh, that more of our song leaders would choose hymns that would cause our thoughts to be on God and His Son.

Many are the times when a brother will express thanks to God in the public prayer “for this opportunity we have had to sing songs of praises to your name” when in fact not one song sung during the worship assembly was a song of praise. We sometimes go through an entire worship assembly in which we only sing songs about heaven and encouragement to live faithfully to the Lord. While in a Gospel meeting, a brother quickly took a songbook and turned hurriedly to a particular page and announced the number. The song selected for the first hymn was “Farther Along.” It was difficult to center one’s mind on worshiping God with the ill-advised opening song for the congregation to sing. Now we are instructed to teach and admonish one another “in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16), but we should not leave out songs that would speak of the glory, honor and adoration that belong to the Lord God. A balance should be sought in the selection of songs to be sung in every worship assembly. This would require thought and preparation by the appointed song leader. A brother should look in the topical index in the back of the songbook and choose carefully songs that would center on the grace, holiness, love and mercy of our Heavenly Father, songs that would cause our hearts to lift up our voices in praise to Jesus Christ for his sacrifice on Calvary’s cross. It has been my personal experience that the congregation will sing better if such songs are selected.

Here are a few suggestions for our song leaders that I believe will contribute to the betterment of our worship to God in our singing.

  1. It is best to know ahead if you are to be the song leader for any of the assemblies. This will give you time to prayerfully and carefully select your songs.
  2. It would be good to ask the preacher/teacher the biblical subject for his sermon (lesson) and select songs that would be appropriate for the occasion.
  3. In conjunction with the preacher, there could be the selecting of certain Scriptures to be read (especially in praise to God) and intersperse hymns of praise between the readings. I have often done this, and the congregation really enjoyed and appreciated this change.
  4. If there is an expedient time for the congregation to stand during our singing it would certainly be during hymns of praise to God. It is not necessary to stand for all of the songs, but it would be appropriate to have the congregation to stand while singing the opening song of praise to God.
  5. It would be best to introduce a new song during a specific time set aside for this purpose and/or on a particular time set aside for congregational singing in lieu of a time when there would also be preaching.
  6. Song leaders should realize that their attitude and action will permeate the congregation during the assembly. Have a pleasant look on your face. If one is unusually slow in the leading of a song, so will be the congregational singing. One can lead a song too fast also and hinder the meditation on the lyrics of the song being sung. Speak clearly and distinctively when announcing the page numbers of the songs selected. Remember that there are usually people present who are hard of hearing.
  7. Please remember that you should not cause unneeded attention to yourself by your dress, demeanor and mannerism. If you keep time with your hand, please don’t distract from the song by being extreme in your gestures.
  8. I would like to suggest that you not proceed to the next stanza too hurriedly. If you do, many in the assembly will miss the first two or three words of that particular stanza. Holding the last note and word of a stanza for a few seconds will contribute to the beauty and meaning of the song.
  9. This is perhaps a sensitive area, but a song leader who possesses a very strong voice should realize that he can be so loud that the members cannot hear others while singing. In other words, he can “drown out” the rest of the congregation. It would best if he would move away from the microphone after he announces the number of the song and begins singing. Remember it should be congregational singing and not a solo.

How wonderful that all present for the worship assembly can join voices together in singing praises to God the Father and to the Lamb. In heaven there is a scene in which the victorious saints sang “the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Who shall not fear You, O lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For your judgments have been manifested’” (Revelation 15:3). This is “The Song of Moses” sung by Moses and the children of Israel after crossing the Red Sea in which they praised God for their deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 15). Our hearts should be filled with thanksgiving and adoration to our Heavenly Father for delivering us from the bondage of sin by the blood of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:1-3). At last when we are home with God we can sing songs of praise to Him and to the Lamb for our eternal salvation. Our congregational singing presently is simply a foretaste of what it shall be like in eternity in that land that is fairer than day.

[Editor's Note: We are thankful to brother Elliott for some suggestions that may prove helpful in the exercise of our congregational singing. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]


Devotion to the King

Tim Childs

Tim ChildsAfter executing his plot to avenge his sister Tamar’s rape (2 Samuel 13:1-14) by the slaying of Amnon (13:28-29), Absalom left for Geshur in Syria for three years (13:38). He stayed there until finally given permission to return to his own house, being aided by Joab (14:1-23).

Over a period of time, Absalom gave a lot of energy to endearing himself to the people of Israel. He became quite the politician as he, among other things, built himself up while promoting dissatisfaction toward David and his staff, suggesting they were incapable of settling their disputes in an equitable way. By his actions Absalom “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Samuel 15:1-6).

Absalom wanted to be the King, and he led a rebellion against King David. Absalom would do whatever necessary to become king even if it meant murdering his own father. Absalom was able to garner a significant following, which included the elders of the people (2 Samuel 17:4). Set the actions of Absalom in contrast with those of a man by the name of Ittai, the Gittite. Such a vast number of Israel had cast their lot to follow and crown Absalom to succeed his father that David was fearful for their lives and began to lead out of Jerusalem those loyal to him.

Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also an exile. Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee. And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be. (2 Samuel 15:15- 21)

What remarkable loyalty to King David! May you and I have such devotion to the King of kings and Lord of lords!


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