Reformed Hymnody is NOT a Recent Phenomenon

(This is the first in a series of short articles correcting errors heard in pulpits and in conversations about church music. We hope these will be helpful in arming and aiding people who are interested in truth.)

Wesley’s Instructions on Hymn-singing

John Wesley, the preacher and hymn-writing brother of the more famous and prolific hymn poet Charles, gave directions for singing in his Select Hymns of 1761. These instructions are sound advice to this day and merit repeating. Wesley wrote these instructions to his congregation regarding that hymnbook and its tunes:

Singing: A Scriptural Mandate

It is not essential to have a great singing voice, but lack of one is not an excuse to remain silent. Singing is commanded in Scripture (Psalm 96:1-2, Ephesians 5:19, e.g.). It is not an option for the believer. And it is not optional for men! Take a look at the men who sang in Scripture (Moses, David, even Jesus Himself), and you will quickly note that mighty men and leaders were fully involved in the praise of God through song. God never asks us to do something that cannot be done in His strength. “Make a joyful noise” (Psalm 100:1) is a quality of the heart for which a trained voice is not prerequisite. The Bible clearly teaches that singing in worship is primarily a response to God for His acts (Creation and Redemption) and for His attributes. So it should be the best singing that we can offer. But God is honored in our sincere effort and desire to offer our best, which will always be less than His perfection.