We generally have two hymns before the lesson. What if the song leader chose “Glorify Thy Name” and “I Will Call upon the Lord”? This is what you will be singing:
Glorify Thy Name
Father (sung 1 time)
Jesus (sung 1 time)
Spirit (sung 1 time)
We love you, we worship and adore you (3 times)
Glorify they name (12 times)
In all the Earth (9 times)
That means you sang “Father/Jesus/Spirit we love you, we worship and adore you, Glorify thy name in all the earth,” and that was the extent of the teaching in that song. Pardon me if I am underwhelmed, but let’s check the second song too
What do we sing in “I Will Call Upon the Lord”?
I will call upon the Lord (6 times)
Who is worthy to be praised (4 times)
So shall I be saved from my enemies (4 times)
The Lord liveth and blessed be the rock and let the God of my salvation be exalted (4 times)
That means you sang this: “I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised. So shall I be saved from my enemies. The Lord liveth and blessed be the rock and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” Yes some of this is very good, but it isn’t really very much in quantity.
It seems to me that we are singing an awful lot to say very little. Maybe those two songs should not be sung on the same day, especially if that’s all there is to our singing.
Please compare any song written before 1960 and, while you will still find some fairly worthless songs, you will find far more who give us line after line of truths straight from or alluding to God’s word in a deep and thoughtful manner, songs that, if meditated upon and sung “with the understanding” will enrich your spiritual life far more than many, maybe most, of the newer songs.
Let’s now clear up some misunderstandings. I have heard it said, “The Psalms are full of repetition.” Have you studied them? Only one that I can think of is “full” of repetition, number 136. It was obviously meant for group worship in a time when hymnals were unheard of. It is a type of psalm called “responsorial.” Only the leader—the choirmaster or chief musician--knew the words, but to help the congregation participate, they were given the phrase “His lovingkindness endures forever” to repeat after every line he sang, twenty-six different lines, by the way, with no repetition in them. That was a remedy for a situation that no longer exists. Every place I have worshipped has a hymnal for every person.
Other repetitions in the Psalms are nowhere near that level, and were sung as refrains, the same way we sing a chorus after a verse nowadays. They tend to come after stanzas that cover several verses, none of which is repetitive. Usually you won’t find the refrains more than three times, sometimes only twice.
For the record, I like both of the hymns I have listed above. Do you know why? I like the harmonies in “Glorify Thy Name,” and I like the music and style of “I Will Call Upon the Lord.” But are those good reasons to sing them? Not on your life. For one thing, music in those days up through the first century and several centuries beyond, was not about harmony and metered rhythm—they hadn’t been invented yet. Even melody was more akin to a chant.
Hymns should appeal to us because of the lyrics, not the music. I far prefer the older hymns that help me recall passage after passage after passage. In them I can find references or quotes of literally dozens of verses, not just one line or verse repeated ad nauseam. Aren’t the words supposed to be the most important thing in our singing? How else do we “teach and admonish?” Certainly not by syncopated rhythm!
So let’s sing one of those occasionally, maybe to get the interest of the younger folks ignited, but let's not leave our older folks in the dust. And let’s remember what we are supposed to be doing and pick out a few hymns with deeper meaning. Let’s check to see how much teaching is actually being done on a given Sunday morning.
What is it then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 1Cor 14:26