“Sacred song tranquillizes and softens the mind, makes an opening for higher influences, and prepares voice and heart for the public praise of God.”

From Thoughts on Family Worship by James W Alexander.

“In families where there is daily praise of God, in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, there is an additional influence on the young. At no age are we more impressed by music, and no music is so impressive as that which is the vehicle of devotion. The little imitative creatures begin to catch the melodies long before they can understand the words. Without any exception they are delighted with this part of the service, and their proficiency is easy in proportion. No choir can be compared with that of a goodly household, where old and young, day after day, and year after year, lift up the voice in harmony. Such strains give a jocund opening to the day, and cheer the harassed mind after labour is done. Sacred song tranquillizes and softens the mind, makes an opening for higher influences, and prepares voice and heart for the public praise of God. The practice is the more important, as it is well known that in order to attain its perfection, the voice should be cultivated from an early age. Nor should we omit to mention the store of psalms and hymns which are thus treasured in the memory. By this it is, even more than by public worship, that the Scottish peasantry to so great an extent have the old version of the Psalms by rote, in great part or in whole. But this is a topic which we reserve for another place.”

While we agree with Mr. Alexander’s excellent thoughts on the importance of music [and the Psalms] in family worship, it is of interest that Alexander goes on to speak against the exclusive use of the Psalms…

“While we condemn the narrowness of that prejudice which would debar the Church of God from naming the name of Christ in public praise, and which would reject all New Testament hymns, we cannot shut our eyes to the singular influence of that ancient version; though written by an Englishman, Francis Rouse or Rous, it has become almost the peculiar treasure of the Scots, and is still used in the Kirk of Scotland, and the Secession bodies of Britain and America. The use of psalmody in Family-Worship we believe to have been almost universal in the old Presbyterian church of Scotland, as it has been laudably kept up till this day. That it tended, in a high degree, to increase -the interest of all concerned in the service, and to promote Christian knowledge and sound piety, we cannot for a moment doubt.”

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One response to ““Sacred song tranquillizes and softens the mind, makes an opening for higher influences, and prepares voice and heart for the public praise of God.”

  1. These prejudices against the Psalter on the matter singing the name of Christ in public worship are a regrettable assertion set forth by those who have not taken the time to understand the Psalter itself and the fullness of our Savior’s life and ministry it presents. The name Lord, and the name Christ are clearly seen in the Psalter. Many times the word Lord is a translation of the Hebrew term Adonai, meaning master, and often refers to Christ. (See Psalm 110.1, and our Lord reference to that Psalm in Matthew 22.42-46). The term Christ is a Greek term meaning anointed. Again, this term is used in the Psalter for Christ. See Psalm 2.2; 45.7. The name “Jesus” comes from the Hebrew name meaning “Yahveh Saves”, and was the name of the successor to Moses. Even here we speak of the Salvation of our God many times in the Psalter, and though perhaps not a direct naming of Christ, our minds ought to be trained to understand that Jesus is our salvation, and when the Psalter calls upon us to sing of the salvation of Yahveh, we are indeed singing of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Note that the KJV uses “salvation” 63 times, “save” “saves”, or “saved” 52 times, and “saviour” once. Especially in the first group, we remember that “Jesus is our savior, our salvation”. When in Psalm 98.2-3 we hear that the salvation of the Lord has gone forth to the ends of the earth, we understand the preaching of Christ to all nations. When in Psalm 106.13 we take the “cup of salvation” we know that it is the cup of our Lord Jesus Christ, that saving cup is His, filled with His blood. There are many other ways those who are favorable to singing the Psalter, according to God’s own appointment, will see Christ in the Psalter, in His fullness. Alas, those who are dissatisfied with the Songs of Zion will continue in their empty complaints.

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