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.
Make haste, O man, to live, For thou so soon must die; Time hurries past thee like the breeze; How swift its moments fly! To breathe, and wake, and sleep, To smile, to sigh, to grieve; To move in idleness through earth, This, this is not to live! Up, then, with speed, and work; Fling ease and self away; This is no time for thee to sleep, Up, watch, and work, and pray! The useful, not the great, The thing that never dies, The silent toil that is not lost— Set these before thine eyes. The seed, whose leaf and flower, Though poor in human sight, Bring forth at last th’eternal fruit, Sow thou by day and night. Make haste, O man, to live, Thy time is almost o’er; O sleep not, dream not, but arise, The Judge is at the door!
—Horatius Bonar (1808–1889)