Potency of Sacred Song

In the lives of Christians the church serv­ice is an important factor, and it is logical that music have a most important part in their worship.

By J. E. Cox, Evangelist, Cleveland, Ohio

Music is and has been from time im­memorial a medium by which man could give vent to his every emotion. At the tribal war dance in heathen lands, on the battlefield of the nations, in the home, church, office, and factory, and on the streets, the various moods of man can be interpreted by the song he sings, chants, hums, or shouts.

In the lives of Christians the church serv­ice is an important factor, and it is logical that music have a most important part in their worship. Add to this the realization that music can reach depths in the soul that nothing else can, and it is not strange to find that music is accorded a part second only to preaching, in the religious service.

Music is a universal language. The haunt­ing pathos of the funeral dirge moves all men to tears. A buoyant song lightens the load of care, and the pleading tenderness of gospel hymns melts hearts in every land. Music is as' a voice of love. It touches those depths in the emotions of the soul that speech could never affect. With music, we are wafted to blissful heights; with music, we are saddened.

In our mind's eye, let us picture a dying man on the battlefield. The sounds of strife are on every side—the captain's curt com­mands, the shouts of the soldiers, the boom­ing of the guns. None of these penetrates his benumbed senses. Then the breeze brings to his deafened ear the sounds of the national hymn. He stirs and tries to rise. Even though his physical forces are far spent, with the dying energy of his soul he responds to the music.

So it is on the evangelical battlefield. The evangelist can preach until he is hoarse. He can plead until he is weary, but his voice often falls on unresponsive ears. Then, through the veil of sin which has enshrouded hearers, filters a note of song. Like a wedge, it opens heart doors, and makes room for the gospel message. It evokes responses from dormant chords long since thought to be dead. Music does this.

The aim of the evangelist is primarily to save souls, for the kingdom, and he will use every opportunity to carry out this aim, whether it be by music or by preaching. Passers-by, who would otherwise trudge on unheeding, will be arrested by the strains of song. If the evangelist is to be success­ful, he must have good music.

No music can be effective unless the same spirit that inspired its composer to write it also inspires the singer. The singer must correctly and effectively interpret it ; he must put himself into it until it seems a part of him and he a part of it, He must not sing it mechanically.

We need music, not rendered solely as a duty or a necessity, but properly interpreted and sung from the heart. Only by like can like be cured or affected. Music sung from the heart will find an echo in the hearts of the listeners, and music sung because of a sense of duty will be accepted in like fashion. The listeners must not merely hear a song with undulations and shadings, but they must feel within themselves the communion of kindred hearts, sharing common sorrows and failures—twin souls, subjected to identical trials and pitfalls.

For church choirs to be successful, or for evangelistic choirs to be effective, they must be composed of those who are really interested from the heart. Those who are truly inter­ested will religiously prepare themselves for just such service. Only through preparation can we get real interpretation and inspiration from music.

Music must not be entered into with a sense of ability, but with a feeling of submission. We must sing to the honor and glory of God, realizing that He has a great work and an extensive program of which music is an im­portant part.

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By J. E. Cox, Evangelist, Cleveland, Ohio

November 1938

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