Evangelistic Music

The gospel may be effectively pro­claimed through song as well as through the spoken word.

By L. S. Melendy

The gospel may be effectively pro­claimed through song as well as through the spoken word. Therefore it becomes vitally essential to put forth most earnest endeavor to raise the standard of evangelistic singing, so that every song rendered shall convey a message of hope and cheer, or of conviction of sin, thus tending to strengthen the sermon message by the preacher.

To become a soul-winning singer should be the true aim of every man or woman associated with the evan­gelist in the interests of the musical phase of the work. Success in this worthy ambition involves a number of outstanding requirements in the life of the singer. For example:

1. The heart of the singer must be consecrated unreservedly to the service of the Master, and there must be fel­lowship and communion with the Holy Spirit. The melody of song which comes from a heart void of offense toward God and which is accompanied by a silent prayer for God's blessing, will reach hearts and become effective for good.

2. The sentiment of the song must become actual personal experience. The person who sings, "When I have burdens to bear which no one can share, I take them to Jesus, the Man of Calvary," must know what it means actually to leave all personal plans and problems at the Saviour's feet. Only the heart which is thus unfettered and at peace can sing such a song with the " spirit and with the understanding." The ef­fective, soul-winning singer will ask himself the question, Am I expressing the truth when I sing,

"Over mountain, plain, or sea, Here am I, O Lord, send me "?

Or other stanzas, such as,"Earth holds no charm that can lure me away, Kept by the love of my Saviour; Sweeter He grows every step of the way, I'm longing, dear Saviour, for Thee."

To sing such words without true understanding and acceptance of their meaning, is to sing a lie; and all such singing, even though the technique is perfect, will fail to accomplish the true result.

3. The deportment of the singer, in public and private, either emphasizes or weakens the message of his song. There are times when evangelists utilize the splendid musical talent of men and women of the world, as a drawing feature in connection with the series of meetings, but far too often this plan has resulted in disappoint­ment and deep regret, because the singer, although possessing a beauti­ful voice and faultless technique, lacks the vital heart experience which is in­dispensable. At other times our own denominational singers counteract the effect of an excellently rendered song by lax conduct.

A few years ago, while attending a camp meeting, I listened to a very beautiful solo. The title of the song was, " I Know He Is Mine." The words and the music rang out so sweetly that every heart was stirred Shortly after the meeting closed, I passed the soloist, as he was in con­versation with a group of friends, and I caught the words of a slang ex­pression which came from his lips, and immediately the song to which I had listened a few minutes before, lost its force and power. This made a deep impression upon my mind, as to the importance of the singer's being true in his life to the sentiment of the songs he sings.

4. Distinct articulation in singing is essential. We consider as a decided failure the minister who speaks so in­distinctly as not to be understood by the, people, yet some singers seem to consider it a demonstration of exten­sive training to speak the words of a song in such a manner as to be abso­lutely misunderstood. Indeed, it may even seem to some that the soloist is singing in a foreign tongue.

The apostle Paul sets forth the true principle which should actuate the ren­dering of all phases of public worship, speaking, praying, or singing, for we read his words: " Except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be under­stood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. . . . In the church I had rather speak five words with my understand­ing, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." And then he declares his determination: " I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also." Such is the standard to be maintained in evangelistic singing.

5. The Christian grace of humility must dominate all natural desire for self-praise. Let the motto ever be:

"Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;

Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;

Not I, but Christ, in, every look and action,

Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word."

Some singers seem to have the impression that in our evangelistic work there is good opportunity to display exceptional musical talent, technique, etc. While these qualities are essen­tial and should not be overlooked, they must be kept entirely secondary to the true objective in evangelistic singing. The world is seeking for self-praise, but Christ's followers are not of this world. Our business is to win souls for Christ, and to this end it is our happy privilege to dedicate talent and train­ing to the highest degree of proficiency.

Let us, as singers of this last message to a dying world, ever pray that our songs may be watered by the Holy Spirit, and bring men and women to the foot of the cross, that we may to­gether join in that " new song " of ex­perience which only the redeemed from among men can sing.

Des Moines, Iowa.


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By L. S. Melendy

March 1928

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