B·I·B·L·E & L·I·F·E

Bible Teaching Newsletter

of Biblical Doctrine & New Testament Assembly Life

Volume 2, No 4 July 1, 1995

Praise Him, Praise Him!!

by David Dunlap

         The spirit-filled Christian life produces spiritual music. Nothing is more characteristic of a Christ-centered life and its joyfulness than the overflow of the heart in song. It is the hallmark of the Christian. It is significant that the apostle, in mentioning the marks of the spirit-filled life in Ephesians chapter 5, lists first a heart that sings. A dynamic speaking ability, ecstatic utterances, and a great faith are all left for another time. For when a believer walks in the Spirit and Christ is paramount in his life his inward joy is manifested in music. God first puts His preeminence in our hearts and then a song of praise on our lips. The psalmist exhorts, "Sing for joy in the Lord, 0 you righteous ones, praise is becoming the upright" (Ps. 33:1).
         One of the greatest distinctions of the Christian faith should be its music. The music that springs from the heart full of Christ will by nature have little in common with the secular music of this world. Our music cannot be like the music of the world, because our God is not like the gods of this world. Most of the world's music reflects the world's ways, the world's standards, the world's idol-gods. For this reason the word of God uses the term "new" more frequently in relation to song than to any other feature of salvation. The psalmist sings, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings. He has put a new song in my mouth even praise unto our God" (Psalm 40:1-3). When God takes us out of the mire of sin, He sets us in the choir of the redeemed. God gives His people a new song, a spiritual song, a Christ-glorifying song, a more beautiful song than anything the world can produce. The high theme of our praise will ever be, "Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised..." (Ps. 145:3).
The focus of the worship of the redeemed will be the exalted Redeemer. For it is impossible for the eye to be fixed on Him and the heart not to be stirred to holy worship. This praise will be deeply reverent and will manifest a gratitude of the heart. John, the apostle, tells us that the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders will fall down before Jesus Christ, the Lamb, and sing a new song saying, "Worthy art thou..." (Rev. 5:9). Similiarly, Samuel Ridout has well written of this lofty theme, "Cristian worship has as its source the accomplished redemption; its object is God the Father and the Son; its place, the presence of God; its power, the Holy Spirit; its material, the truths fully revealed in the word of God; and its duration, all eternity." (1)

(1) Samuel Ridout, The Church According to Scripture, Loizeaux Brothers, NY, 1926,45

Bible & Life Interview
with Jim Upton
---------- SONG-LEADING ---------

Question? What is, or should be, the role of a song leader in the assembly meetings?

Response- The role of the song leader is threefold:
  • Use the singing time to lift hearts up to God, and so to prepare the audience for the message, prayer time. The music should introduce, and not be the main focus, for most meetings.
  • To choose, announce, and lead the hymns, including the closing hymn, if one is desired.
  • To give the announcements,to have an opening prayer, and to intoduce the speaker.
Question? How has the Lord led you to become involved in leading congregational singing? What has helped to equip and train you to be an effective song leader?

Response- I started congregational song leading in my later teens— first a few choruses in the Sunday School (encouraged by Jay Walden), then on more occasions, as time went on. Growing up in the assembly at the N.E. Gospel Chapel(Minneapolis), which was strong in teaching the Word of God and in seeking to honor Christ, I learned something of the importance of meaningful and appropriate words to hymns. In my earlier years I had an interest in music, taking piano lessons and playing in the high school band. The basic music theory that came with these experiences has been a great help in leading singing and in communicating with the accompanists; as a result, I strongly encourage song leaders to have, or obtain, some music theory background. Through observing others who had more experience in congregational song leading, and by having a growing interest and appreciation in the hymn message (words and music), the Lord gave more joy and opportunity to be involved in this work.

Question? Do you meet with others in the assembly in regard to music in the assembly? What areas of music are usually considered in these meetings?

Response- Several share in the song leading at the different meetings of the assembly. Two of us decide who should be responsible for the song leading of any one meeting. Special music (solos, duets, etc.) is also used, usually several times a month. Instrumental numbers are usually used only at special occasions; reading the words of instrumental numbers assures that the meaning is clearly conveyed to the audience. The kind, or area, of music used depends on the nature and purpose of the particular meeting — whether gospel, prayer, ministry, childrens meeting, etc. We use hymns, gospel, or praise songs and choruses, selected fr hymnbooks, overheads, or cards. In all of this, it is important to be watchful that the spiritual message is paramount and is not overpowered by the emotions of the music or by the artistry of the musicians. Christ must be preeminent in all things.

Question? What do you find to be among the greatest challenges that musicians and song leaders face in assemblies today?

Response- I suggest that the greatest challenges may be in one of two extremes, either:
  • LETHARGY — where the congregation has a habit of going through the motions of singing and doesn't care to be involved too much for whatever reason. The song leader can then remind the audience of the significance of the words and draw them out to musically express those thoughts. With a bit of kind encouragement, audiences will usually respond and enjoy their singing—and may even be instructed, Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16.

  • MISDIRECTED ENTHUSIASM — where the excitement of the music predominates and becomes the major interest. Contemporary music tends to have more of this element in it — though certainly other music can also. At times the difference betwčeh sensual and spiritual music may be hard to distinguish. Considering the high purpose of music in the Lord's work, the song leaders should carefully try to make that distinction so the hearts of the audience are lifted to exalt Christ and to live for his glory.
Question? How important is the eldership's involvement in regard to the proper use of music in the assembly?

Response- The elders' position on church doctrine, reverence, and the goals of the assembly sets the spiritual tone of the assembly, including that of music. If their predominant desire is to draw in as many people as possible, then any music that attracts will do. If the excellency of Christ predominates, then, if the elders provide appropriate guidance, the more Christ-exalting music will be emphasized. Further, if the elders are personally involved with some, or all, aspects of the music in the assembly, they can directly influence the type of music used. Certainly, no elder today should be indifferent to that which has so strongly influenced the work of the Lord, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament — yes, and will have a prominent place in the eternal future, as His saints are gathered to praise Him who is infinitely worthy.

Question? As you look back at your ministry as a song leader- what one or two areas of your work do you see as being most effective in contributing to the honoring of Christ through music?

Response- As I sense it from others, by the grace of God, my contribution to congregational singing may be in helping the congregation to enjoy singing, so we are encouraged together— and so, responding to the scripture, "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts the Lord." Enthusiastic leading can assist the audience to leave behind the lethargy which can choke our meditation or dampen our hearts from appreciating the awe, joy, or solemnness of the great message of the hymn — and of Him. A second area, may be directing the entire singing time to move along smoothly within the allotted time, with the primary goal of preparing hearts for hearing the word of God.

Songs of Heaven
by Walter Scott,
author and advisor to the 1909 Edition
of the Scofield Reference Bible

         In the center stands the slain Lamb, around the throne the living ones and the redeemed, while the outer circle is formed of angels whose numbers are beyond human computation. The worship of angelic hosts is spoken, " saying ... Worthy is the Lamb...", whereas the elders sing the song of the redeemed (Rev. 5:9, 12). There is more than a verbal difference in this, for while angels know the Lamb, they cannot say, "He was slain for us." We know Him in a deeper, fuller, more personal way than do angels. He died for us, not for them; hence the difference, we sing, they say. Angels are never said to sing. Observe, too, that the elders in their song directly address the Lamb, whereas the angels, in keeping with their place and service, adopt a more distant form of address. The former sing to Him, the latter speak of Him.
         The full burst of praise from the angelic hosts is grand, unmarred by one discordant note. They ascribe to Him the fullest number (seven) of attributes (5:12), as they also do in chapter Revelation 7:12; in the former passage, however the slain Lamb is the burden of their testimony, whereas in the latter it is "our God," the God of angels and men. The order in which the attributes are named in the two respective angelic strains differ. There are also other minor points worth noting in these ascriptions of praise. The seven terms denote the highest most perfect expression which a creature can offer. They embody the full and perfect praise of the most exalted of God's creatures.
         But the full tide of praise is not yet exhausted. It rolls on, gathering force and volume, till the whole universe is embraced. "Every creature which is in Heaven, and upon the earth, and under the earth, and (those that are) upon the sea, and all things in them," the vast universe of God in all its parts. Jehovah on His throne and the Lamb are the objects of universal adoration. The four-fold ascription of praise — "blessing and honor, and glory, and might" — marks the universality of this spontaneous burt of worship. The praise is never ceasing — "to the ages of ages."

Walter Scott, Expostion of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Pickering & Inglis, London, 142-143



"Christian worship has its source the accomplished redemption; its object is God the Father and the Son; its place, the presence of God; its power, the Holy Spirit; its material, the truths fully revealed in the word of God; and its duration, all eternity."

Samuuel Rideout (1850-1931)



Jim Upton is an elder and song-leader at the Believer's Bible Chapel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The assembly was established seven years ago; presently, up to 100 usually attend. He also has frequently led the singing at the National Workers' Conference. May his experiences as a song-leader encourage you in your worship unto the Lord.



"It is important to be watchful that the spiritual message is paramount and is not overpowered by the emotions of the music or by the artistry of the musicians. Christ must be preeminent in all things."




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