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.
Open now thy gates of beauty, Zion, let me enter there, Where my soul in joyful duty Waits for Him who answers prayer. Oh, how blessèd is this place, Filled with solace, light and grace! Lord, my God, I come before Thee, Come Thou also unto me; Where we find Thee and adore Thee, There a heav’n on earth must be. To my heart, oh, enter Thou, Let it be Thy temple now! Here Thy praise is gladly chanted, Here Thy seed is duly sown; Let my soul, where it is planted, Bring forth precious sheaves alone, So that all I hear may be Fruitful unto life in me. Thou my faith increase and quicken, Let me keep Thy gift divine, Howsoe’er temptations thicken; May Thy Word still o’er me shine As my guiding star through life, As my comfort in my strife. Speak, O God, and I will hear Thee, Let Thy will be done indeed; May I undisturbed draw near Thee While Thou dost Thy people feed. Here of life the fountain flows, Here is balm for all our woes.
—Benjamin Schmolck (1672–1737)