Worship In a Higher Register


Psalm 33:1-3

In our series of sermons on the church’s corporate worship on the Lord’s Day we have so far said that this public worship is, according to Holy Scripture, the great engine of spiritual growth and discipleship and so it is immensely important that it be done rightly and well. We have said that worship is prayer, that is, a form of conversation with God. We have argued that the authority according to which we must order and offer our worship is the entire Bible, OT and NT alike, and that the fact that so much of the Bible’s instruction concerning worship is given to us in the OT and especially in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, is a fact more fascinating than it is important. As the spiritual world in which we live and the gospel we believe, as the Savior in whom we hope and the salvation we have received, are the same today as long ago, so the worship we offer the Lord rests upon the same foundation and is to be offered according to the same principles as that worship in the days of Moses. We noticed that in the Bible’s teaching concerning the church’s high worship there is never any conflict to be found between order and form on the one hand and the free expression of the heart on the other. Finally, we have said that the specific purpose of the Sunday worship, this conversation we have with God every Lord’s Day, is the renewal of our covenant with him. That is why there is this predictable element to it, why the ritual is fixed in certain respects, why we say many of the same things over and over again, Sunday by Sunday. This is a conversation with a very specific and formal purpose. You will see that these sermons have concerned, as they will continue to concern, the larger issues of the church’s high worship, not the details. This morning I want to address another such larger issue, another of worship’s fundamental principles.

Here too we encounter an issue more likely to be controversial. I am, in fact, going to defend what we do here at Faith Presbyterian which comparatively few Christians do any longer. We don’t talk about our practice very often. We don’t make a point of criticizing what other Christians do and I think that it right. Each one must live according to the light that he has and to each man’s master he will stand or fall. But it is important for those of us who are here and worship as we do at Faith Presbyterian Church to have some sense of why it is we continue to do what fewer and fewer Christians do any longer in the worship of God. We believe we are right to do what we do and it is important for you to know why.

I have read the first three verses of Psalm 33, a very short text, I realize. Actually, I’m interested this morning not in these three verses so much as in but two words, the first two words of the second verset of v. 3: “play skillfully,” or, as one fine commentator on the Psalms has it, “play beautifully.” [Craigie, WBC, i, 269] However one translates the text it obviously amounts to the same thing – the reason God wants the playing to be skillful is so that it would be beautiful. In other words, the worship offered to God in song, and by analogy in every other way, ought to be offered skillfully, beautifully, artistically. It ought to be the very best we are capable of. I chose this simple statement; I could have chosen any number of other texts to make the same point.

With those two words I want to address what I gather is the chief objection to that Lord’s Day worship service and the sung praises that belong to that service that have been both handed down to us by the Christian ages and recommended by the most important of the church’s liturgical scholars. I mean a service of – and I struggled to decide how best to say this; to say it in a way that would not be unnecessarily provocative – a service of high culture.  I couldn’t think of a better term. Now hear me out. I don’t mean necessarily myhigh culture or any other high culture. I mean simply that our worship ought to reflect the very best artistically and intellectually of the culture of any Christian people in any time and in any place is capable of offering to the Lord. Cultures change, of course, and standards change with them. I understand that. I’m talking about a principle, not about someone’s taste! But taking the term in this way, this is increasingly not the service of the American church. Those services are typically simpler;  they are, I think anyone would admit, are reflections of what we may justly describe as low culture.

And those who recommend those services typically do so for one reason supremely. They argue that the classical service of Christian worship is not sufficiently accessible to the modern American, believer and unbeliever alike. The formality of the service of the central tradition of Christian worship is off-putting to casual, informal Americans who belong to the culture of the T-shirt, the flip-flop, blue jeans, and fast food. By formality I mean such things as a minister in a robe, architectural and liturgical distance between the congregation and the ministry, and music that is more complex and serious than the music they ordinarily listen to and accompanied by instruments generally identified with more serious music.

The American contemporary service is a service designed precisely to overcome the fact that Americans don’t find naturally congenial what Christians have historically done in worship. The service has been suited to modern American taste and comfort. It is simple in its organization; just a few things are done. The atmosphere is upbeat, familiar, often humorous – much more like a sales convention than the service of worship most Christians have known through the ages – but it is an experience Americans are familiar and comfortable with. The music is mostly soft-rock and folk music with lyrics so simple that they require little or no intellectual engagement. There is virtually no ritual except the offering and Americans are used to being asked for money.

I don’t doubt that the architects of this contemporary service of Christian worship believe that a biblical argument can be advanced on its behalf. There is not, to be sure, much scholarship that has been offered by the advocates of the modern contemporary service. They certainly have not engaged or not much engaged, so far as I can tell, serious liturgical scholarship. The biblical argument is typically superficial, based largely on the assumption that the first 39 books have little or nothing to say to Christians nowadays regarding their worship of God.

The argument I wish to make is not that a properly ordered Christian worship offered in what I’m choosing to call the artistic and intellectual character of higher culture is in fact easily accessible to the un-churched and unbelieving or even to the typical American Christian. It is not. It is a service that must be learned. A Christian must grow up into this service. But it has always been so. Indeed, Israel was always tempted to prefer the more accessible, the more sensual, the more entertaining, the less spiritually demanding worship of the ANE. The services appointed for her by the Lord required a great deal of her and she was always tempted to prefer something easier.

But consider the worship of early Christianity. It was a service so unlike anything then known in the Greco-roman world that the society at large continually struggled to understand what was going on in it. The church made so little effort to accommodate the culture that, widely practicing the disciplina arcana, the secret discipline, the unbaptized were required to leave the service half-way through, after the sermon and before the Lord’s Supper. Though comparatively little effort was made to make the worship service accessible – though the church certainly availed itself of the artistic and intellectual forms of her culture – how could she not? – early Christianity was as successful evangelistically as at any subsequent period in history. The only period of Christian history to rival the first three centuries for missionary advance was the mission movement of the 19th century. There too cultures were confronted with a service alien to their experience, a set of actions, sounds, and words they had never encountered before.  Christian worship did not simply mimic the culture; it created its own culture. It took the forms of its culture up into itself, purified them, deepened them, beautified them, and then exploited them in ways they had never been exploited before to the glory of God. And by doing so that worship regularly transformed the culture around it into its own image.

While Christians built catacombs and buried their dead, we create churches that look like shopping malls or theaters and with increasing frequency cremate our dead just like the pagans always have. We’ve traded Pentecost for Mother’s Day. Do you know how many churches there are in the United States of America who will not celebrate Pentecost next Lord’s Day? There will be no mention of Pentecost in their service. Do you know how few churches there are in the United States of America that will not mention Mother’s Day on that day? The language of Christian theology, spread over the world through Christian worship, is now hardly used even in the church itself. Christian people themselves don’t know that vocabulary, much less the unbelievers round about. This is a recipe for irrelevance and that is what we are increasingly seeing everywhere we look: the irrelevance of the church in our modern culture. It has so accommodated itself to the culture that it is regarded by that culture as simply another expression of itself.

The specific point I wish to make from Psalm 33:3 concerns the measure of intellectual and artistic complexity common to that biblical and classical Christian worship. It was worship in what we might call the higher register in just the way that contemporary Christian worship is largely not. There are many lines of evidence supporting this conclusion but let me mention two that bear on our singing in worship because that seems to be both interesting to most people and one of the most controversial elements of the new American evangelical service. I could discuss any number of other aspects of the service with respect to the same point, but let’s stick this morning with what we sing in the worship of God’s house on the Lord’s Day, and not, as we might, consider the minister’s dress, the prose of the church’s written prayers, the architecture of her sanctuaries, or the shape of her rituals.

First there is the text that is sung. We have a hymn book in the Bible and a large number of hymn texts of various kinds. We have, in other words, a template for the text of the church’s sung worship. We have already made this point briefly in an earlier sermon in this series but let’s consider this in a bit more detail. And what can we conclude from those hymn texts that are provided us in the pages of Holy Scripture itself? Well, a number of things.

  1. The Psalms vary in complexity but most of them are theologically rich and demand thought and learning fully to appreciate. That is why readers of the Psalms still today find them, at one and the same time, wonderfully accessible and intellectually demanding. Today Christians tend to pick and choose, leaving the more difficult elements to the side. We are more likely to sing a few verses from a psalm than the psalm itself, or to pick the simplest thought of the psalm to turn into a praise song rather than the more demanding thoughts that lie in the nearby verses. We are more like to sing, “This is the day that the Lord has made,” from Psalm 118 than “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” the latter a hugely important text in the New Testament. The typical American evangelical thinks (this is not my theology but it is his) that we Christians today are more spiritual than believers used to be because we have more of the Holy Spirit than they did. But, apparently, with less of the Spirit they managed to sing more intellectually demanding and theologically rich praise to God than we do! What is up with that?
  2. It used to be thought that Hebrew poetry could be analyzed in terms of three types of parallelism, parallelism, as you know, being the characteristic feature of Hebrew poetry. There was either synonymous parallelism (in which the thought of the A verset was repeated in other words in the B verset; antithetical parallelism (in which the B verset contradicted the A verset); or synthetic (in which the B verset added something to the first). It is now widely thought in biblical scholarship that almost all Hebrew parallelism is of the synthetic type. If one looks only for restatement or contradiction one cuts the text with a butter knife. If one looks for differentiation as well as similarity or dissimilarity one cuts the text with a scalpel. The relationships between the versets are of all kinds and difficult to define precisely. Poetry is an art, not a science. It is too rich, too complex, and too affective to pin down according to some simple scheme. Hebrew poetry forces the reader to think. It is complex and beautiful literature. It is, in fact, some of the most beautiful literature that has ever been written. And, as its use in the NT demonstrates, it is a rich theological literature.

 

In other words, if a Christian church sings as the Psalter teaches the church to sing, it will sing profound, complex, and beautiful texts that she will have to work fully to appreciate, that will prove more and more meaningful to her the longer she sings them, texts that will teach her the biblical faith in all its honesty and complexity and teach her how to apply that faith to the issues of believing life. In any case, what is emphatically clear is that this poetry is not simple, predictable, and superficial. It is poetry in the high register. Hebrew believers who were highly educated and those who had very little education sang the same texts and both found in them intellectual and spiritual depth, difficulty, and challenge as well as help and encouragement and inspiration. The poetry we have in the Psalter, it must be emphasized in our day of ignorance regarding matters artistic, was not the poetry of the school room or of the amateur; it was not the way ordinary folk talked in the street or the bazaar; it is among the finest writing in the world and its content and artistry are so rich that no one over these three thousand years has fully mastered these poems yet. The best hymn texts of the past two thousand years and the few very fine hymn texts that are being written today are like the Psalms in just these ways. The church has some of the world’s greatest poetry in her hymnal. A good hymnal is, in fact, a credit to our heavenly Father who gave us the poetic muse, who made human beings susceptible to the power and influence of the poem, and gave us the ability to write poetry that both teaches our minds and moves our hearts at the same time!! And so should what we sing today be a credit to him, our very best, our deepest thought and reflection put in the most beautiful poetry we can create. It will be put in the forms of our culture, to be sure – Christians all over the world will put these expressions in the poetic forms of their culture but those forms sanctified and raised to the highest level of which we are capable. A thousand years before Christ Homer was writing his great epic poems – poetry never bettered in the ages since – and the Psalms were being written, some of the finest, most affecting, most elevating poetry ever written. We should not in the 21st century be singing doggerel to God! We can do better than that; we should do better than that; we need for ourselves and the world needs for us to do better than that!

Second, the music also was high register art. All the indications are that the music to which the psalm texts were set and sung was as sophisticated as was the poetry itself. That is, as Psalm 33:3 suggests, in worship they did play and sing skillfully and beautifully. For example, we know that David put a premium on professionalism in the performance of the music of the temple. We are told explicitly that the musicians who led the sung praise at the temple were carefully trained until they were skilled at their instruments or their direction of the choir (1 Chron. 25:6-8). The level of musical sophistication and professionalism is also reflected in the psalm titles.

  1. By the time of the translation of the LXX several hundred years before the appearance of our Lord and Savior in the world the technical musical terms used in the psalm titles were so arcane the Greek speaking Jews in Egypt were unable to translate them. They didn’t know what the terms meant. Instead they simply transliterated them. Still today no one knows what a maskil is or a miktam. No one knows what Selah means. That is what amateurs always resent about a professional discipline: its technical terminology seems to exclude them. And still today: rubato, adagio, allegretto, sonata, polonaise, and so on. The one who strums his guitar is not likely to think he should have to know what they mean. But the Hebrew musicians had to learn the terminology of a sophisticated discipline because only in this way did one master the possibilities of the musical arts. And the music sung to God David thought should be the very best that we can manage!
  2. What is more the music was suited to the text. In the psalm titles certain tunes were indicated for certain texts. The music was intended to adorn or glorify the words so the music needed to be suitable for the words. So there were hymns, we learn, for the burnt offering; not the same music as that used for hymns whose great purpose was doxology or praise. One immense problem with so much of modern church music is that it is so much the same. But you should not sing Abide With Me to the same sort of music to which you sing Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending!  Music has power to glorify words, but in order for that power to be exploited the music must suit the words.
  3. Other psalm titles indicate what instrumentation was to be employed for a particular hymn. Professional musical judgment was devoted to matching the music to the text.

 

In other words, the hymns that Hebrew believers sang (and that Jesus Christ sang as he experienced the worship of the synagogue and temple in his boyhood and young adulthood) were as sophisticated musically as they were poetically and theologically.

Without a doubt, the music sung in worship in those days was not the music they sang or played at parties and family gatherings. That sung worship required a certain education of the people’s taste, it was a worship up into which a mind and heart had to rise over time and in which intellectual and spiritual labor had to be invested if the congregation’s full participation and appreciation were to be achieved. Nevertheless it was the same worship for everyone and the peasant and the professor sang together. The music was not simple, but it was accessible, as all beautiful music is. Proof of that is the amount of the church’s music that continues to make its way into Hollywood movie scores or Elton John’s remark that when he needs inspiration as a composer he turns to the hymnal. Indeed, just as a good hymnal is a repository of some of the world’s best poetry, it is as well a library of some of the world’s most beautiful music. But it is not the music most people are listening to today. For many to begin to sing this music requires some education in both text and tune, education of their taste and cultivation of their appreciation. But surely that is as it ought to be. As our powers are cultivated by the grace of God and we learn to do and enjoy things we did not do and did not enjoy before. That’s called sanctification: Christian learning to cultivate and exploit their God-given powers.

We are told today that believers and unbelievers alike will not tolerate a worship that demands so much of them. But the fact is demanding worship has been the norm from the beginning of time and the Lord and his church obviously have thought that every Christian adult is capable of a meaningful participation in worship that is both in its content and its art in a higher register. And, in fact, they were capable. They have always been capable.

If you read today the sermons of the great Anglican preacher and pastor of the Puritan period, Richard Sibbes, you will find expositions that are demanding, searching, and the furthest thing from the simple, popular addresses about entertaining subjects that are in many churches the staple of the contemporary pulpit. But when once Sibbes was called to be the preacher in Cambridge, while some 29 parishioners signed the call a good number of them did not sign their names but made an X instead! [Works, i, xxxvi] Simple believers who could not read or write are capable of appreciating deep preaching and they are just as capable of participating meaningfully in intellectually and artistically demanding worship, even as university educated folk will often find it too demanding, too much work.

And so it has been with the psalms that have been sung by the faithful through three thousand years and more and of at least the best and most influential of the hymns that have been sung over the past two thousand years. There is that in those hymns that can be fully appreciated only with understanding and an increasing measure of spiritual maturity though all can sing them with appreciation no matter their spiritual and theological sophistication.

The practical consequence of the departure from worship in the higher register is precisely that the church has begun treating her adults as if they were children. In other words, the Church has capitulated to a powerful movement in the culture, signalized in Diana West’s recent book The Death of the Grownup. When I was in high school I sang the very sort of songs that are now referred to as praise songs and regularly sung in the high worship of the church on the Lord’s Day. There really is very little difference between what I sang then and what Christians in vast numbers are singing in church today. The sole difference between that music and the music now sung by congregations in worship is that in my youth we never supposed we would sing our songs, the songs of our youth group, in the church service. We understood that as we grew up and became adults we would sing differently, know more, and that our maturity would be expressed in our participation in the more adult, more complex, more demanding worship of the church. The music we sang in high school we fully understood was for young people. It was simple, primarily affective, with little theological depth, generally simple ideas repeated several times to catchy pop-40 types of tunes. But far too frequently the average teenager today and, alas, the average adult views himself not as a student in need of knowledge and a person needing further to mature, to grow up, but as a person who has gone as far as he or she needs to go.

What has happened, to put it simply, is that adults are now singing children’s songs in the church’s high worship. We might, in my view, very fairly refer to this music as the McSong and this worship as the McWorship. It partakes of the youth orientation of so much of modern culture. But it is a recipe for perpetual adolescence in the church. Hymns are a very important instrument of discipleship, that is one reason why The Psalms is the biggest book in the Bible! The Lord’s Day worship of the church is the great engine of discipleship and hymns play an extraordinarily role in that worship. If the sung praise of the church is juvenile, the church is consigned to a membership of juveniles not adults. Let me illustrate this.

First, what we have seen in these last years is the loss of the congregation’s voice. This is tragic.  I’m not sure if you have noticed this and, to be sure, it occurs by degrees in various churches, but a congregation filling a sanctuary with the sound of praise is becoming an increasingly rare thing. Part of the reason for this is that the new model for congregational singing is to have one singer or two or more on the stage singing into a microphone. The amplified voices and instruments are much louder than the unamplified voices of the congregation. The congregation’s inability to hear itself sing further depresses its interest in singing and little attention is given to this by the church’s leadership because the congregation’s voice is immaterial to the sound in the room. This is now so common that it is being regularly commented on by observers of American worship. Men in particular stand in these services but do not sing. In that they are not the worshippers they ought to be; something very important is missing both in the individual life and the life of the congregation. When Christians and Christian men in particular cease to sing and cease to have a sense of singing together, an important feature and instrument of the Christian life itself has been lost. It is one of the great differences – I wonder if you appreciate this – between Christianity and other religions of the world, that our faith is sung and sung beautifully by all its practitioners together. In every language of the world this is so. A sung faith, a faith sung beautifully is intrinsic to Christianity in a way it is not to any other great religion. Al-Qaeda, for example, does not sing its faith!

There are still congregations that sing beautifully. I’m thankful this is one of them! They fill the sanctuary with their praise and the sound of the congregation’s voice is a matter of great blessing to the people as I am sure it is to the angels and to God. It is a powerful, though subtle, verification of the faith. The Lord sits enthroned on those praises we are told in the Word of God. Alice Parker was a very influential musicologist in the second half of the twentieth century. She is an expert in American music and you will see her name as the arranger of one of the choral anthems to be sung at the end of the service. She wrote a highly regarded book Singing in Church. And, says Alice Parker, there is a reason why a congregation sings well. Someone expects it to! Luther prepared his congregation, unaccustomed to singing in church as it was in practices held on Thursday nights. It is a retrograde step, a step in the direction of the juvenile, for a congregation not to be able to hear its own voice in song and not to create that stirring experience that is the singing of a full-throated Christian congregation. Nowhere else in our culture do large groups sing with any regularity. Fewer and fewer are even singing the national anthem at baseball games. The church should continue to be the place as it has always been where a great congregation is heard to sing. God should have such praise! And the world should hear the church giving it to him and beautifully!

Second, there is the loss of singing in harmony. The replacement of a hymnbook with an overhead projector has meant that the congregation now regularly never sees the music. They sing only the melody line. For generations the church was the place where people learned to read music and learned to sing parts. Harmony is a great witness to the nature of reality in the kingdom of God: a beautiful unity created out of diversity; male and female voices, adults and children, sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses together forming a single sound. If you could stand where I stand on a Lord’s Day and hear yourselves sing, you would realize I do not hear it as hundreds of separate voices. I hear one voice but in a magnificent harmony of sound. It is one of the pleasures of being a minister. But not only has harmony disappeared, the ability to sing in harmony, a much more difficult thing to recover, once lost, is disappearing as well. This is a genuine tragedy.

Third, there is the loss of the serious, the melancholy, the darker sort of singing. Everything is happy, upbeat, light. Nothing is ever sung any longer more slowly or in the minor key. But the Christian faith has a minor key because life has a minor key and our faith engages life and reality at every point. There are psalms that have a minor key and the music with which some of them should be sung should reflect that fact. A faith that trades in sin, in the bloody sacrifice of the cross, in the reality of final judgment and hell, and the spiritual warfare cannot always sing light and peppy songs or soon its worship will be so far removed from its message that one or the other will inevitably lose its place. It does not take a prophet to predict that it will be the message that will be accommodated to the worship, not vice versa. My great fear regarding contemporary Christian worship is precisely that it will eventually no longer bear the weight of a fully orthodox Christian faith. Fed on the simplicities of a worship designed for the young, worship meant primarily to amuse and inspire, adults will find the transcendent and terribly solemn aspects of the Christian faith increasingly alien and eventually unbelievable.

And, finally, there is the tragic loss of a universal language of song uniting the church across the divisions that otherwise separate her people into various denominations and congregations. The music of the modern evangelical worship service is increasingly disposable, like the top-40 tunes that it emulates. The few contemporary praise songs that were included in the second edition of Trinity Hymnal are now passé and rarely if ever sung. Mega-churches are writing their own songs and continually and replacing one generation with another. This is what happened with the songs of my youth. They were sung in youth group for a few years and replaced by new ones. But the best hymnody of the church has never been so disposable. Christians have long sung her  finest hymns and has been blessed to sing those hymns no matter that they were written in another part of the world and long, long ago. Christians have long sung the finest hymns of the ages just as Jesus did in his own day.  When he sang a hymn with his disciples in the Upper Room, they sang a psalm from the Hallel, a section of the Psalter that was in large part, already by his time, nearly a thousand years old! Singing such psalms and hymns is one of the most important means by which Christians are given a sense of belonging to the church triumphant, a piece of their self-identity of great importance in this age of the temporary, the ephemeral, and the disposable. It also gives them the great blessing of experiencing the élan, the special inspiration, that attaches to many hymns from the circumstances of their creation. The church would be impoverished not to sing “O Light that Knew No Dawn,” Gregory of Nazianzus’ tremendous hymn, which, with its magnificent assertion of the full deity of Jesus Christ, comes white hot down the ages from the 4th century battle with the Arians, or Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” the battle hymn of the Protestant Reformation, a hymn more and more of our entering Covenant High School freshmen have never sung, or “And Can it Be that I Should Gain,” Charles Wesley’s magnificent and moving hymn from the Great Awakening on the transforming power of God’s grace.

I have told you before of singing by my late sister’s hospital bed in St. Louis – the last time I saw her alive – and hearing the hospital housekeeper on the other side of the curtain singing the hymns along with us. That was a precious moment! We knew the same great songs of faith and praise. An African American domestic and a white professional sang the same praise to God. That unity is disappearing and it is a supremely tragic loss. Every church hasn’t the same artistic gifts; every culture doesn’t have the same range of artistry for the church to exploit. Don’t mistake me. God’s people can worship him in a bark hut, they can worship him in a country church with their hymn singing accompanied by a CD player because they have no one to play the piano, or sing accompanied by someone who hardly knows how to play his instrument. God will love that worship if it is offered to him from the heart. The point is that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ should aim high. He did not give us gifts of artistry for us not to exploit them to the full. The Christian church ought to be offering to her God the very best that she can possibly attain to: the most adult, the most serious, the most sophisticated, and the most artistic praise. God has given us these powers and it is ours to exploit them to the full for the praise of his glory. The Lord deserves this and we need this.

The great importance of this issue, the register of the church’s high worship, is that worship shapes the sort of people we will become. Juvenile worship will keep us thinking and acting like young people. More demanding worship intellectually and artistically will draw us upward and onward.

Our worship should be a stretch for the new believer. He or she should realize that there is much to learn. But when he has grown into that worship he will realize that it remains a challenge even  for the most mature and experienced believer. It should call every believer to something more than he or she has so far attained. It should be such activity as can only be done rightly with a hard-working mind, an engaged heart, and an increasingly sophisticated trained ear. It ought to exploit the gifts that God has given mankind and which are at their best when bent to liturgical use in Holy Scripture: architecture, poetry, music, and oratory.

The church has often demonstrated this commitment in previous days and in doing so she regularly carried the culture with her. She led the culture, she didn’t follow it. There is precious little danger of that happening in our time and that is not only an abrogation of duty on the church’s part but a high tragedy both for Christian people and for the unbelieving culture. Following or imitating a decadent culture is no way for the church to increase her influence in that culture!

People aren’t different now than they have always been. Christians can be taught to sing well, sing deep and powerful texts that are intellectually satisfying and musically appropriate. They have been nurtured on and have come to love such hymns for thousands of years. The church’s singing can become again a powerful weapon in the spiritual warfare.

I have spoken to you about the worship that we offer to God here. I know that. I am speaking to the choir in many respects. But we rarely talk about this. Again, as I said at first, it is not ours constantly to criticize what others are doing. To each one’s master he stands or falls. But, as I also said at the beginning, you need to know why we worship here as we do. I need to recommend to you this worship and for the reasons I have given you it ought to be recommended to all Christians. Only if you realize why we worship as we do and what we believe is at stake in this question of the register of the church’s high worship will you continue to feel it a sacred obligation to adorn this worship and to commend it to others. We who believe this must adorn our position. We must raise a testimony to better things. Our churches need to be well-known for the quality of their worship and the engaging character of it, and especially the congregation’s singing.