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PSALMODY A PART OF DIVINE WORSHIP.
A SINGING LECTURE..
PSALM LVII. 8.
Awake up, my glory ; awake psaltery and harp : I
myself will awake early.'
These words contain an exclamation of the sweet Psalmist of Israel, He calls upon his tongue, "the glory of his frame,” to express the praises of his God, in the devout exercise of sacred song. He summons the instruments of art to aid his voice in this heavenly employment ; and resolves he will himself awake to the duty, in all the powers of his soul.
Conscious that his reason, his faculty of speech, and his musical powers, were the gifts of his Creator, he resolved to consecrate them all to his service, and by every possible method, use them as helps in the worship and praise of their author. Warmed with this sentiment, in a rhapsody of devotion, he exclaims, “ My heart is fixed, o God, my heart is fix
ed, I will sing, and give praise. Awake up, my glory, awake psaltery and harp : I myself will awake early."
By the words of the text, the following truth is. naturally suggested to our minds, viz. that, we ought 10 consecrate all our powers and faculties to the service and worship of God.
We are the creatures of God. He formed us by his word, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. He has endowed us with rational powers. By these: we are distinguished from the brutal creation, and rendered capable of the knowledge, service, and enjoyment of God. These powers, therefore, ought to be improved to obtain the knowledge of his character and kingdom to assist us in his service and worship, and prepare us for the enjoyment of his holy presence.
He has also, endowed us with the faculty of speech, which, next to reason, is the distinguising excellency and glory of man. By this we are capable of a mutual communication of our thoughts, of improving ourrational powers, and assisting each other in the acquirement of useful knowledge. By this, too, we reciprocate sentiments and feelingsmilie crease our social comforts, and unite in the social worship of the Father of our spirits. This faculty we ought also to devote to the service of God, in the uses for which it was given. We should “let our speech be always with grace, seasoned with salta and let no corrupt communication proceed out of our moutli, but that which is good, to the use of edifying. Nether filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks."
In addition to the faculty of speech, our beneficent Creator hath endowed us with musical powers and faculties. By these we are capable, not only of uttering the seven distinct original sounds of nature; but, by the direction of the ear, and a musical taste,
of modulating them in strains of melody, and of combining the concording sounds, by several voices. in concert, so as to constitute harmony. This, especially when accompanied with important sentiment, affects the mind, through the organ of hearing, and the sympathy of the nervous system, with the most refined and exquisitely pleasing sensations. We are indeed wonderfully made ; and this faculty, by which we are capable of giving and receiving such sensations of delight, and of increasing the influence of sentiment, by the power of music, is not the smallest wonder in our formation, To whom, then, if not to the author of it, shall we consecrate this faculty ? Should we not always use it with a view to his glory, while deriving from it all that assistance it is capable of giving in the worship of God? These are the ends for which it was given, and we ought not to pervert it from them. We have no right to consecrate it to Satan, by abusing it to vain and carnal purposes.
To this practice, however, many are inclined. The use which multitudes make of music, and the highest end they propose from the practice and enjoyment of it, is to excite carnal mirth. By merry and vain songs, they endeavor to give a keener relish to scenes of conviviality-to beguile the insipidity of mispent time, and the more effectually banish from their minds the thoughts of a holy God. In reference to such abuses of music, and in reproof of them, the prophet Isaiah says, “ The harp and the viol, the tabret and pipe and wine are in their feasts, but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands.” And the prophet Amos, “ They chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves, instruments of music like David-that drink wine in -bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointment, but they are not grieved for the affliction of
Joseph," or, the people of God. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Ephesian converts, says,
6 Be not
drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in Psalms Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.” As if he had said, instead of being filled with wine, as the heathen are in their festivals, be filled with the Spirit of God; and sing, not as they do, vain and impure songs but such as are spiritual: and instead of addressing your devotion to Bacchus, or Venus, or any other imaginary object of worship, always ad. dress it to the Lord of nature, and the giver of all things," singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.”
From these scripture passages, as well as from reason, it appears unfit, that music should be used for selfish, carnal, and sensual purposes; and that it ought to be improved, like all other enjoyments, cither with an immediate, or ultimate reference to the service of God. It may be used lawfully, and in the service of God, at other times, and in other ways, than the direct worship of God. We may use it, either to relax the mind from cares, or to enliven the animal spirits, when in a state of dejection and languor; that we may thereby be the better fitted for the active duties of life. But the noblest, and most important use of music, is to assist us in the worship of God, by exciting animation, and enkindling a spirit of devotion in our souls. To effect this, it has a happy and powerful tendency.
The several emotions, or passions of the soul, as one observes, have, each its peculiar language, and give some distinguishing notes to the voice; and these different notes excite in the mind the passions which they represent. So that from the connection existing between sounds and passions, they become by turns the causes and the effects of each other. We know there are certain sounds which inspire with ardor and resolution; and others which melt and dissolve. But if mere sounds have this ef
fect, burcly much greater may be produced by the living sound of human voices, harmoniously combibed in singing such sacred songs, as are filled with sentiments of piety and devotion. And such are the known effects of sacred music, applied to psalmody, in the worship of God. All the religions, which have prevailed in the various nations and ages of the world, have agreed in this, to solemnize their social worship, in hymns and songs. In the church of the true God, it has ever been a divinely instituted duty. We may trace it back to the patriarchal dispensation. Moses and the people of Israel, while in Egypt, were acquainted with the practice of sing
ing the praises of God. We find them, immediate. hi ly upon their leaving Egypt, and passing the Red
sea, engaged in singing a song of praise for their
instituted part of social Worship, after the giving of the law, and througla
that dispensation, is evident from the book of Psalms, Wet and the account we have of the temple-service.
That it was to be continued under the gospel, is evicente dent, among many other things, from the example of
Christ and his disciples, singing a hymn at the celebration of the sacramental supper; and from the example of the Corinthian, Ephesian, and other church
es, together with the directions given them by the 14 Apostle relative to the duty. After the time of the
apostles, the primitive Christians continued to practise it, and that, not only in public worship, but in the social worship of the family. This is evident from the writings of the early fathers. We have the testimony of heathen writers also of that time, that “ it was a custom among the Christians to assemble on a certain day, and sing hymns unto Christ, as unto God.” And we know that it has been continued ever since, and that it is an exercise in which they greatly delight. They feel disposed to say with the Psalmist, Awake up, my glory".