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 this month on the words of the hymns we so often sing.
O Thou in whose presence my soul takes delight, On whom in affliction I call, My comfort by day, and my song in the night, My hope, my salvation, my all. Where dost Thou at noontide resort with Thy sheep, To feed on the pastures of love? Say, why in the valley of death should I weep, Or alone in the wilderness rove? O, why should I wander an alien from Thee, And cry in the desert for bread? Thy foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see, And smile at the tears I have shed. His voice, as the sound of the dulcimer sweet, Is heard through the shadows of death; The cedars of Lebanon bow at His feet, The air is perfumed with His breath. He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice, And myriads wait for His word; He speaks, and eternity, filled with His voice, Re-echoes the praise of her Lord. Dear Shepherd, I hear and will follow Thy call; I know the sweet sound of Thy voice. Restore and defend me, for Thou art my All, And in Thee I will ever rejoice.—Joseph Swain, 1761–1796