When we worship God there are many benefits. One of them is the edification of one another. We do this in songs. “Speaking to yourselves in palms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in palms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

In the section dealing with miraculous gifts, Paul deals with praying and singing in an unknown language. While this might impress people that are around us, there is no benefit at all in our own worship. “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).  The “spirit” in this passage is not the Holy Spirit. Paul is dealing with worshipping God correctly. John said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth) (John 4:24). This second time that “spirit” is used in this passage and the “spirit” that is used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:15 is the same “spirit.” We must worship God with the correct attitude. This being said, then when we worship God it must be done with the correct understanding.

If one came into our assembly and started doing any of the acts of worship in another language, what would it profit any of us? Some of you might be fluent in another language and if the person speaking, praying, or leading singing in that language you might profit from that worship, but as for me, I would not. All things done in that worship might be correctly done but it is not done with the correct attitude or spirit and therefore is not correct worship.

Any time we can improve our understanding of spiritual things it will help in our worship. If we understand music then it will help in our worship.  We are taking time to understand music just a little bit better and that will help our worship. We also ought to look at the meaning of words if there are words in the song with which we are unfamiliar.

There are other areas of understanding that will help with the songs that we sing. If we know the setting of a song when it was written it also might help understanding the “spirit” of the song or the sentiment that the writer of that song is trying to portray.

“Hear me when I call, O God, my righteousness, Unto Thee I come in weakness and distress; Hold my trembling hand, lest hapless I should fall, O hear me, Lord, hear me, O hear me when I call!

Hear my cry, O God, attend unto my prayer, More and more I need Thy mercy and Thy care; Clouds of doubt arise and faith grows weak and small, O hear me, Lord, hear me, O hear me when I call!

Hear my voice, I God, and cleanse my soul within, Mercy do I need for all my doubts and sin; Only in Thy grace I trust my all in all, O hear me, Lord, hear me, O hear me when I call!

Hear my prayer, O God, I need Thy cleansing power, Let me feel Thee near each moment of each hour; Hold my trembling hand, lest helpless I should fall, O hear me, Lord, hear me, O hear me when I call!

Have you lost a loved one to death? This song was written the night that Tillit S, Teddlie wife died. When I heard that the song has a different meaning that it did before. My understanding is different and thus my singing of that song is also different.

The song “It Is Well With My Soul” was written by Horatio Gates Spafford the story behind that song is this: Horatio Spafford, author of It Is Well With My Soul, was born in North Troy, New York and moved to Chicago in 1856. He established a successful legal practice and became professor of medical jurisprudence of Lind University. He was also active in YMCA work and a Sunday School teacher for his Presbyterian Church. In 1870 he visited England and Scotland and became very interested in Bible archaeology. Returning to Chicago, he bought a great deal of real estate on the lake front. Then tragedy struck repeatedly.

First, the Chicago fire of 1871 wiped out his real estate holdings. Then, in 1873, upon the advice of his wife’s physician he planned a family vacation in Europe. Spafford sent his family ahead aboard the ship Ville du Havre. Out on the high seas, the Ville du Havre collided with the Lochearn and sunk. Mrs. Spafford was saved but their four daughters perished. Spafford took the next boat to meet his wife in Cardiff, Wales, where the survivors had been taken and while sailing past the spot where his daughters perished, wrote It Is Well With My Soul. (This information came from The History of Hymn Singing as told through One Hundred & One famous hymns by Charles Johnson)

There are many such stories about the songs that we sing that truly help in our understanding of that song. Songs then when we do come to the proper understanding we may not be able to sing any more. Let us keep studying so that we can have a proper understanding of God and His will.

Love, Keith

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