Thursday, August 19

How We Sing

As I prepare for my sermon this coming Lord's Day, I have been thinking a good deal about the character and nature of singing. I ran across this old journal entry on what singing indicates in the heart and character of a man:

Iam lucis orto sidere
Deum precemur supplices,
ut in diurnis artibus
nos servet a nocentibus.

The harmonic drone of the chant for this Medieval Latin hymn is unvarying--like Medieval manners, customs, and generations. It has an ironic quality in it which savors at once both the pathetic and the steadfast. Its few notes recall those ancient themes which conceal something of the dreadful fallen estate of man but are yet buoyed by his supreme dignity and by the majestic purpose of the human will yielded to divine providence. Its Latin phrases ring out in the still morning air--and across the centuries--connecting us to the truth of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, to the hope of the Kingdom that transcends all other kingdoms, and to the strength of a united Christendom against which even the gates of hell may never withstand:

Deo Patri sit gloria,
eiusque soli Filio,
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
et nuc et in perpetuum.

Singing such hymns lifts the heart, shortens the way, and advertises a man's reputation. It is an admirable thing. A man who so sings--loudly, clearly, and well--proves, more often than not, to be of good character. He is master of himself. He is strict and well managed. He is prompt, alert, swift, and to the point. He is unafraid and jolly. He is disciplined and congenial with a clear conscience before both God and men. There is method in him. All these things may be in a man who does not sing, of course. But singing makes them apparent.

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