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.
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down, Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown; O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine! Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine. What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain; Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain. Lo, here I fall, my Saviour! ’Tis I deserve Thy place; Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace. Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance, Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance. How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn! How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn! Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair; From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there. Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life; Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife. My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me, For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee. I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot; Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not! What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend, For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee. My Saviour, be Thou near me when death is at my door; Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore! When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone, But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own! Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die; Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh. Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell, My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.—Paul Gerhardt, (1607–1676)