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In the times of the judges, when the Lord wrought out a mighty deliverance by the hand of Deborah and Barak, they raised a song unto the Lord, saying, “ Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.” Judges, v. 2.
When David rose up to be the sweet psalmist of Israel, he, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, composed many psalms unto the Lord, which have been a blessing to the children of God, from generation to generation. He also set the singing service in order, and appointed Levites over the service of song in the bouse of the Lord. i Chron. vi. 31.
David, being seated on the throne of Israel, prepared a place for the ark of God, and brought it up. with great joy. The singers, Heman, Asaph, and Jeduthun, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass. Others bad psalteries and harps. Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song. The trumpets were blown before the ark of God, and all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, &c. 1 Chron. xy. And when David had nearly finished his earthly course, he delivered a psalm of praise unto the Lord, saying, “ Blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen." Ps. lxxii. I.,
After David was gathered to his fathers, the Lord raised Solomon his son to the throne of Israel, ap- . pointed him to build him an house, and gave him wisdom beyond any that were before him. “And when Solonion and all Israel dedicated the temple, the singers were set in order, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets. And it came to pass as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever, that then the house was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud ; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.” 2 Chron. v. 12--14.
The singers, on some occasions, had to undertake important enterprizes ; and their faith was fully tried when Jehoshaphat appointed them unto the Lord, to praise the beauty of holiness, and face the enemy, marching before the army when on the point of entering into battle. But faith prevailed; for when , they began to sing and praise, (and the army, no
doubt, joined in with them,) then the Lord wrought out a great deliverance. 2 Chron. XX. 21, 22.
When Joash was raised up to the throne of Israel, Jehoiada appointed the officers of the house of the Lord, to offer the burnt-offerings of the Lord with rejoicing and singing. 2 Chron. xxiii. 18.
The pious king Hezekiah, when raised to the throne, restored the worship of the Lord, and commanded to offer the burnt-offerings upon the altar. And when the burnt-offering began, the song of the Lord began also. “And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpets sounded : and all this continued until the burnt-offering was finished. 2 Chron. xxix. 27, 28.
In the reign of Zedekiah, the children of Israel were carried away captive; and by the rivers of Babylon they sat down and wept, and hanged their harps upon the willows. For there they that carried them away captive required a song. But their thought was, “How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land." Psal. cxxxvii. 1–4.
But when the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, their mouth was filled with laughter and their tongue with singing. And when the foundation of the temple was laid, they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever unto Israel." And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid ; and the noise was heard afar off.” Ezra, iii, 11-13.
After this, when Nehemiah had raised up the ruins of Jerusalem, they kept the dedication of the wall with gladness, with thanksgivings, and with singings. Nehe. xii. 27.
Throughout the Old Testament, the service of song formed an eminent part in the worship of God. It was also employed in giving reproof, correction, admonition, and instruction, in righteousness. The Lord raised up Moses, David, Asaph, and the holy prophets, who, by the Eternal Spirit, composed songs and psalms unto the Lord ; and wrote them for instruction, for celebrating the holy worship of Jehovah, and to be a blessing to the children of God in all ages.
On the Service of Song in the New Testament. In the fullness of time, Jesus Christ was born in
Bethlehem of Judea; and there was in the same country, shepherds watching over their flocks by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said, Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” Luke, ii,
At the feast of the Passover, when our Lord was about to be offered up, he instituted the ordinance called the supper of the Lord ; op which occasion, he and his disciples sung a hymn. Mark, xiv. 26.
Paul and Silas, in prison at Philippi, prayed and sang praises unto the Lord at midnight. And the Lord sent an earthquake, and wrought out a mighty deliverance. Acts, xvi. 25.
From this instance, it appears that, at times, the singing assists in growing into faith. It may be remarked too, that when the three kings sought untoElisha for deliverance, he said, “bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.” 2 Kings, iii. 15.
In the New Testament, we have peculiar directions for the performance of this service, in 1 Cor. xiv. 156 the apostle says, “ I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." And Ephes. v. 18, 19, says, “Be filled with the Spirit ; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts unto the Lord.” In Col. iii. 16, we have this farther instruction, “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs ; singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
As we advance in the New Testament, the singing service grows upon us. In Rev. V. John saw the Lamb take the book sealed with seven seals, and a new song was sung, saying, “ Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof : for thou wast slain, and hast redeemned us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign upon the earth.”
In Rev. xiv. the Lanıb and his company sung, as it were, a new song. And in Rev. xv. those who stand on the sea of glass, have the harps of God; and sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. And in Rev. xix. after Babylon was fallen, a voice came out of the throne, saying, “ Praise our God all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.” And John heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, “ Alleluia : for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”
General Observations. The Lord hath not only raised pious and holy men to compose psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, but he has, from time to time, raised up suitable persons to conduct the singing service ; men and women who can sing with grace in their hearts unto the Lord, and whose singing is accompanied with the power of God, and is a general blessing to the people. These are appointed of the Lord : all others would bring a vain oblation, and would injure both themselves and the congregation. None should be suffered to take any part in leading the singing service, but such as can a sing with grace in their hearts unto the Lord.” These are the people whom the Lord calls into this service; and their faith and piety is a blessing to all the people. Their zeal is to bring the whole congregation forward in the singing service, to lead them into faith, and enable them, as much as possible, to sing with the spirit and with the understanding also, and with grace in their hearts unto the Lord.
The Lord, in ancient times, raised up holy men to write songs and psalms as a part of the scriptures of truth; and in later ages he has raised up others who have performed a very useful, though a different, service. These have not been called to write with the authority of those who penned the scriptures of truth; but they have composed a variety of hymns, in different languages, for the edification of the children of God. In England, have been Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and a variety of others, who have laboured in this service with considerable success.
Of the present Book, In compiling the present hymn book, great care has been taken to select the best hymns from the best
authors; and a considerable number of original hymns have been composed expressly for this work. These are of a superior cast; they lead into the mystery of faith, and embrace a variety of subjects.
For the greater agreeableness, the authors' names, when known, are usually inserted, by way of signa ture, at the close of the hymns.
One great excellency in this book, is, its being suited to the varieties of meetings and worship. It is not only suited to the different ordinances, but the varieties in the lengths of the hymns will be a great accommodation. At the opening of a service, a hymn of considerable length is generally used ; and, as the worship proceeds, shorter ones are usually required. And here are an excellent proportion of long hymns; and, it is hoped, a sufficiency of shorter ones. Again, in prayer meetings, and on various other occasions, hymns, consisting of one or two verses, are almost constantly wanted: and great care has been taken to provide a considerable number of these. Nevertheless, if the excellent short hymns be found too few, a verse or two from any long hymn, may be occasionally given out. And, for the saving of time, the short hymns should mostly be given out from memory
ON WORSHIP. The more constant and frequent services of worship, are, Private prayer, Preachings, Prayer meetings, and Class meetings ; such as Lovefeasts and Camp meetings, are excellent and powerful, but not so frequent..
Private Prayer. In private prayer a person may, through the Mediator, enter into conversation with the Almighty, and lay open bis whole soul unto him. He may press through temptation, grow into faith, and take hold of the strength of the Lord. At times, however, it is difficult to wrestle through the force of temptation, and get into the fulness of faith, till the Holy Ghost powerfully descends. But in this, as in other means, he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.
Preaching Service. Preaching services usually open with singing and prayer, ending with the Lord's prayer. Singing again follows, (usually short,) after which a sermon or