“How much public singing, even in the house of God, is of no account! How little of it is singing unto the Lord! Does not the conscience of full many among you bear witness that you sing a hymn because others are singing it? You go right straight through with it by a kind of mechanical action. You cannot pretend that you are singing unto the Lord. He is not in all your thoughts.
Have you not been at places of worship where there is a trained choir evidently singing to the congregation? Tunes and tones are alike arranged for popular effect. There is an artistic appeal to human passions. Harmony is attended to; homage is neglected.
That is not what God approves of. I recollect a criticism upon a certain minister’s prayers. It was reported, in the newspaper, that he uttered the finest prayer that had ever been offered to a Boston audience! I am afraid there is a good deal of vocal and instrumental music of the same species. It may be the finest praise ever offered to a congregation; but, surely, that is not what we come together for.
If you want the sensual gratification of music’s melting, mystic lay, let me commend to you the concert-room, there you will get the enchanting ravishment; but when ye come to the house of God, let it be to ‘sing unto the Lord.’
As ye stand up to sing, there should be a fixed intent of the soul, a positive volition of the mind, an absolute determination of the heart, that all the flame which kindles in your breast, and all the melody that breaks from your tongue, and all the sacred swell of grateful song shall be unto the Lord, and unto the Lord alone.”
From Spurgeon’s sermon: The New Song and the Old Story,