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and they desire to awake to the performance of the duty, in all the powers of their souls.
Since, therefore, psalmody is an instituted part of worship ; and since it is our duty to worship our Maker with all our powers, both of body and soul, it becomes us to attend seriously to the subject, and to inquire relative to the matter of the duty, and the manner in which it should be performed.
1. With respect to the matter, or subject of our singing, it appears from the apostle's directions to the Colossians, and also to the Ephesians, as well as from the practice of the Jewish and Christian church, that it must be Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs. By Psalms, we are to understand more particularly the Book of Psalms, of which David, by divine inspiration, was the principal author. These divine compositions, not only in the original, but in all the translations, paraphrases, and versifications of them, are distinguished by the title of Psalms. Other versifications upon sacred subjects, whether those contained in the sacred scriptures, or such as have been written since, illustrative of gospel truths, and in conformity to the word of Christ, are called Hymns and Spiritual Songs. And doubtless all such are included in the direction the apostle gives: “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another, in Psalis, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs."
2. With respect to the manner of performing this duty, the principal directions given us, are, to sing with the understanding, and with the Spirit, making melody, (or singing with grace) in our hearts to the Lord. Singing with the understanding, implies the exercise and attention of our rational powers, to the subject matter of the praise ; so as to understand the sentiments expressed. This is of great importance. If we do not understand the praise we offer, what
advantage do we derive from it, any more than in the expression of unmeaning sounds ? It is important, therefore, for those who perform, to command their thoughts, and attend to the words, for their own advantage; and to pronounce them as distinctly as possible, for the sake of those who hear
and if the latter find it difficult so to hear as to understand, they should furnish themselves with books, that they may have their eyes upon the words. This, it is feared, is a point, not sufficiently attended to by the most of our worshipping assemblies.
Singing with the understanding, must also imply a competent kno:vledge both of the theory and practice of the art of music. The design of music, in the social worship of God, is to compose the mind, and enliven the devotion of the heart. But it will not, it cannot have the effect, unless performed with
exactness of time, and harmony of voices. A failure in these will produce a contrary effect. The combination of harsh, untutored voices, in strains of. discord, instead of assis:ing devotion, interrupts it ; and excites sensations merely of distress and horror. Great attention, it seems, was paid to this point in the Jewish church, by means of which, the influence of thoir sacred music upon the worshippers, was great and powerful. Peculiar care
was taken, that the choir of singers should be well versed in music, and familiarly acquainted with the sacred songs they performed. Those, who were to perform either with their voices, or instruments, were at the conimon expense, put under skilful instructors. We read, that the sons of Hermon, were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord ;-and that they, with their brethren, were intructed in the songs of the Lord, and were all cunningand that Chena. niah, the chief of the Levites, instructed in song because he was skilful. And whenever public praise was performed, a principal musician was over the song cailed, the Master of the song ; by which is
doubtless implied, that he led in the tune, giving to the others the time : Hence, as we read, they were, as one to make one sound. They moved together in exact time and tune ; and the voices on the different parts were all, as it were, melted into one sound. In this respect, the Jewish psalmody was performed with the understanding, or skillfully ; and it ought, as far as possible, to be so performed now in the Christian worship ; both because of the happy effects of it, and because we cannot expect that a bad performance, eren as to the external part of duty, will be approved of God, while we are capable of a better ; that is, capable of performing it in a manner better ad.apted to answer the end of psalmody:
But I proceed to mention a more important particular in the manner of singing praise.
We ought to sing with the spirit, making melody in our hearts, and to sing with grace in our hearts, unto the Lord.
These different expressions imply much the same thing. To sing with the spirit, is to sing sincerely, and not with a solemn sound upon a thoughtless tongue ;-it is to sing fervently and affectionately, and in a spiritual manner, by assistance of the Spirit of God. It implies, not only, that we enter into the spirit of the sentiments expressed, but that we exercise holy affections towards them, or by means of them; and that we rise in our spirits, in holy joy, or humble desires towards God, or pour out our soul in penitence and godly sorrow for sin. This is to sing with grace, and to make melody in our hearts. We sing in this manner, when we sing in the exercise of devout affections ; when our worldly and discordant passions are quieted, and the soul smoothed into love, humility, hope and joy ; or when the affections of our hearts answer in unison to the sentiments of the sacred song. Hence we often use the expression of having our hearts tuned to the praise of God.
“Oh, may my heart in tune be found,
Hence, the Psalmist said, “ My heart is fixed; that is, prepared, as it might be rendered, or tuned -therefore he called upon his tongue, and instruments of art, then used in sacred music, to unite in expressing the devout and grateful affections of his soul. When the heart is in tune, or in the exercise of grace, there is a desire to express its holy affections, in songs of praise. The soul, in the exercise of holy joy, or godly sorrow, delights to express and indulge these affections, in well adapted strains of psalmody. When this is done, there is a reciprccal influence. As the heart affects the voice, causing it to break out in strains of praise, or expressions of sorrow, or any particular affection—so the voice again, in these strains, affects the heart, increasing its sensations to a still higher degree. To sing, therefore, with grace, making melody in our hearts, is to have our hearts fixed, or tuned, and warmed by the exercise; its affections answering to the sentiments of the sa
I only add, that we are to remember that our praise is addressed to the Lord, and that we are in his preSinging with
hearts TO THE LORD.” The duty is performed directly to God, and not to men. It ought, therefore, to be performed with solemnity, reverence, and awe, in our external deportment ; on account, both of its happy effect upon the devotion of spectators, and the pain which a vain and trifling deportment will give to the people of God. Add to these considerations, the greatness and majesty of God, who is fearful in praises, and therefore to be praised with reverence and godly fear.
Having thus shown, that we ought to consecrate all our powers to the service and worship of God; and that psalmody is an instituted part of social worship; briefly considering the matter and manner of the duty, as taught and required in the sacred scriptures, I shall now close with an
The subject is important and practical, as is every thing relating to the worship of God. As such, it applies in the
1. Place, to all present, in general, as members of this church and congregation.
We are all particularly reminded, this day, that psalmody is an instituted part of divine worship; and that we are all required to take an active part in its performance ; either joining with our voices, or uniting with our hearts, calling upon all the powers of our souls, to awake in the duty. Let us consider and improve it as a duty, a privilege, and a delightful service. And since the sacred music in our public worship, is now performed in so improved and perfect a manner externally, let us be thankful for the favor, and the help we may receive from it in our religious assemblies, and use all proper influ. ence and exertions to have it continued. Let us remember, that it is as really a duty, to support this, as any other part of public worship; and that the expense of preparing for it, ought always to be defrayed by the community. Those who prepare themselves to perform, have to pay, only in their attendance upon the schools, a very large tax; and though it is no more than their duty requires, yet so far as they do it from a desire that this part of God's worship may be decently performed, they deserve our grateful acknowledgments.t
* This discourse was first delivered by the deceased author to his own charge, on February 3, 1805. Afterwards, at a Singing Lecture, to the people of West Simsbury, (now Canton.)
† Though sundry observations in this part of the discourse appear to have been locally addressed by the preacher; yet they are viewed by the editors, as too important in their nature, and too extensive in their application, to be wholly suppressed; especially as the same method of supporting