The song of Moses (Exodus 15:1–19) was both declaration and anticipation: it looked back and forward. Within a few hours of singing this masterpiece of praise, however, the Israelites were murmuring! The question that must be asked then is, how many Israelites sang in the congregation that day with no real feeling or sincerity?
We must ask ourselves the same question. Do we sing with the heart or only with the mouth? Is our singing with an engaged mind, a faithful heart, and earnest desire for the God we praise? Meditate on the words of the hymns we so often sing.
On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie. O the transporting, rapturous scene, That rises to my sight! Sweet fields arrayed in living green, And rivers of delight! There generous fruits that never fail, On trees immortal grow; There rocks and hills, and brooks and vales, With milk and honey flow. O’er all those wide extended plains Shines one eternal day; There God the Son forever reigns, And scatters night away. No chilling winds or poisonous breath Can reach that healthful shore; Sickness and sorrow, pain and death, Are felt and feared no more. When I shall reach that happy place, I’ll be forever blest, For I shall see my Father’s face, And in His bosom rest. Filled with delight my raptured soul Would here no longer stay; Though Jordan’s waves around me roll, Fearless I’d launch away.
—Samuel Stennett (1727–1795)