Singing in Harmony

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
Listen to a conversation I overheard several years ago. One young man declared: “In five year’s time (this was ten years ago!), we will sing no songs in churches that are more than twenty years old.” To which an older man declared: “We have seven hundred hymns in our hymn book. Why would we sing anything that’s not in a hymn book?”
So who was right?
Neither demonstrated a concern for the needs of others in the church. The second comment first: God inspired the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16). I am not aware of any “inspired” hymn books. As a matter of fact, we’re putting far too much faith in hymn books if we assume that editors do not succumb to petty politics when they compile them! The thoughtful song leader will know that there are many songs included in a hymn book that are not worth singing … and many not in the hymn book that are.
Now to the first comment. I heard another speaker say: “Do you have anything in your house that is more than twenty years old? Then why would you sing anything that was?” Guess he hasn’t seen our house. Our house is furbished in Late Twentieth Century Yard Sale! Do I have any music older than twenty years? Can you imagine a world without Bach, Mozart, and Sibelius? Now that I think about it, the music I thought was “cool” when I was young (we called it something that rhymes with “movie!”) is older than twenty years!
Many modern “praise songs” are excellent ones, and will become a part of what future generations sing; many will deservedly fade away into obscurity. Be assured of this: No song, whenever it is written, is worth hurting a brother for whom Christ died, or dividing Christ’s church! Remember, when we sing, we “speak to each other.” let’s do so with compassion, consideration, and in love!

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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