I guess that some of you, my younger charismatic friends, hardly know any hymns. If so, I’m sorry. I’m so grateful for hymns.
Paul encourages us to be filled with the Spirit speaking to ourselves (or to one another) in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. (Eph5:19) It’s what we do when we want to be refreshed in the Holy Spirit‘s presence. We sing. We make melody.
Of course, like so many New Testament instructions this is essentially addressed to the church rather than to individual believers, but individuals can still obey and benefit. It’s a fascinating instruction which I have found so helpful during my season of enforced rest, with more time available than usual.
We charismatics tend to enjoy a diet limited to spiritual songs. Praise God for so many of them. They are easy to remember and often come easily to mind. And of course we have some recently written wonderful hymns.
Hymns are not only longer but often tell a story or take you on a journey as you sing. Also many were written under remarkable inspiration, maybe during seasons of revival or great spiritual awakening. The longings they express often run deeper than the rather shallow modern culture we share today.
As you sing through a hymn you are often introduced to, or reminded of, truths that were not in your consciousness as you began to sing. I find this so helpful. My rather narrow, predictable pattern of thought is enlarged, stimulated and provided with fresh motivation for worship, praise and devotion. More thoughts of Christ, his beauty, steadfastness, love, sacrifice, triumph, eternal reign are opened up to me. I’m reminded of his tender mercies, kindness, faithfulness, and extraordinary patience, inviting me to renewed devotion.
Hymn writers sometimes express longings for God that I can make my own but, left to myself, I have no eloquence to express. As I sing them they transfer to the depths of my own heart.
Paul tells us to “make melody”. Melody opens doors in your soul. When Elisha was urged to prophesy, he called for a musician. He wanted to tune in.
I love melody. I took to jazz quite early in life and came to love classical music later. While convalescing I’ve so enjoyed the leisure of listening to Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Schubert, Sullivan, Brubeck, Mulligan, Evans, Davis, the MJQ. Melody is one of God’s wonderful gifts to the human race, common grace that all can enjoy. Melody mixed with sublime words, often poetically inspired, which I can sing from my heart to my loving God are something else!
My heart opens, my spirit is stirred, my emotions are kindled. Often the Holy Spirit seems to blow in on the breeze and catch me up. Occasionally he takes me where I hadn’t expected to go.
Recently singing “Oh breath of life, come sweeping through us”, expressing my desire for more of the Holy Spirit, I came to the last verse; –
Revive us Lord, is zeal abating
While harvest fields are vast and white.
Revive us Lord, the world is waiting.
Equip your church to spread the light.
My thoughts had not been on the vast, white harvest fields. I was stirred, awakened and moved to tears. The hymn had been used by the Holy Spirit to soften my heart and motivate me to pray for our poor, lost, bewildered world.
Let me encourage you. Be filled with the Spirit with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs making melody with all your heart to the Lord. Maybe worship leaders could start introducing some well chosen hymns at Sunday gatherings.
(Brief health report:- Not left the house yet, still a bit sore, quickly grow weary, voice weak, but very happy thanks.)