Learning To Sing

 When the Psalmist had considered the goodness of the Lord and what it meant to mankind he cried out, "0 let the nations be glad and sing for joy" (Ps. 67: 4). And the Lord through Isaiah said, "My servants shall sing for joy of heart" (Isa. 65:11). Jeremiah says, "They shall come and sing in the height of Zion and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord .... and their souls shall be as a watered garden and they shall not sorrow any more at all." God not only meant this world to be a happy place, a place of gladness and song, but he has promised to put a new song in our mouths. Our heavenly Father like a good earthly father, rejoices in the happiness of his children. He never intended this world to be a place of sorrow and care, of disappointment and wretchedness. He never meant it to be a vale of tears. It is only because the world has been separated from God that all these things have come. Sin has brought universal trouble. God will take away sin and bring universal song.

  A child sings because he has the spirit of song in his heart. His singing may not be very melodious; he may not keep the tune nor the time; nevertheless the joy in his heart will bubble over. It is like this when we are saved from our sins. We are filled with a sense of God's goodness and our souls begin to sing. Like the child, however, there are many things we must learn about singing. Many Christians sing much less with heart and voice than they might sing if they should learn how to sing properly. There is a secret about singing that we learn partly by experience and partly by being taught. One of the best ways to learn to sing is to practice frequently. Many Christians do not practice singing. In other words they do not cultivate the elements in their souls that would lead to singing. On the contrary they look on the side of life or at elements in life that tend to chill the source of song.

  Light hearts do not come by accident or at least their lightness does not depend upon accidental combination of circumstances. The song in the soul is the result of a proper attitude of the soul toward life and toward God. Therefore if we cultivate this attitude toward life it will be to us a source of song, an inspiration of song. We sing when we are thinking about pleasant things. This attitude of mind is conducive to song. The song breaks forth spontaneously. In order therefore to have our hearts full of song we must train ourselves to have the heart attitude from which song springs. We CaD train ourselves to have this attitude as well as to have the opposite attitude. Life under such circumstances will be much more pleasant and happy than if we continually look upon the dark side of things.

  One necessary thing in singing is to get the proper pitch. If we are pitched too low we may run below the range of our voice or at least not be heard much. If we are pitched too high we may be thrown under serious strain to reach the tone. So it is important that we get the proper pitch not only for our own sake but for those associated with us. In other words, we must have a right attitude toward life and correct views of duty, of our privileges, and of what a wholesome, sane, balanced life is. We must have a proper sense of our relationship to the world in which we live. These things help us to be in harmony.

  Harmony is one of the greatest elements of happiness as it is one of the most necessary elements of song. Speaking of God's watchman the prophet says, "Together shall they sing." The Psalmist said, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." We must get the discords out of our hearts and out of our voices and out of our relations. One discordant voice in a choir or in a congregation can spoil all the singing. I remember listening over the radio on a number of occasions to the services of a church when a man standing near enough to the microphone to be readily heard sang altogether out of tune with the congregation. He sang away apparently with all his might and his voice stood out in sharp contrast to the voices of the other singers.

  There are people who are out of harmony with their surroundings, out of harmony with the people with whom they associate. Their lives and their voices are discordant. There are some who are discordant only in certain things. They miss certain notes. It is highly important that we learn the art of adapting ourselves to people and to things. We have to get along with people and they have to get along with us, and if these relations are to be joyous or even bearable there must be a considerable degree of harmony. We must get rid of those discords that continually arise. Sometimes people make no effort to be harmonious. They go on their way, do as they please, and think as they please, independently of others. The Bible teaches us that "no man liveth unto himself and no man dieth unto himself." There must be an adjustment of lives to each other and that adjustment must be such as will produce harmony. We should make a sincere effort to learn harmonyŚnot merely musical harmony, but soul harmony.

  We must learn to adjust ourselves to our circumstances in a way that creates the greatest possible harmony. If we are always at war with our circumstances and our environment we shall be constantly irritated, disturbed, and uncomfortable in mind and soul. If we do not find through adjustment a way to be at peace with our circumstances and our environment we shall have many a chafed spot to burn and pain. We must learn to have an ointment for the chafed spots and we must learn how to apply it to make it effectual. Patience, submission, and forbearance in equal parts well mixed make an excellent ointment. The machinery of life will sometimes get hot bearings. We need plenty of the oil of grace. This will stop the friction. There are ways of avoiding friction with people and friction with circumstances. There are ways of avoiding discord.

  One necessary thing is to keep in time with others. Soldiers must keep step; otherwise they are a rabble rather than an army. In like manner we must keep step with others. I have frequently listened in to church services where the song leader kept just about half a beat ahead of his congregation. He was all the time trying to hurry them up. I thought it a poor means of doing so. It spoiled the music for me. We may spoil the music of life for some people in a similar way. At the same time we are spoiling it for ourselves. So in life's song let us keep in time. Let us avoid discord, and let us sing with all our hearts.

  Religion is harmony. It is harmony with God and harmony with man. It is harmony with whatever is right everywhere. Life's harmonies are based on right relations. It is our privilege to have right relations with God, relations that satisfy us and relations that satisfy God. This is not an extreme statement. Thousands of people have this experience daily. They know the peace and joy and satisfaction that come from such relations. There can be no true happiness when one has not proper relations with others. If those relations are full of discord, disagreement, and inharmonies, life must be lived on a plane far below its possibilities.

  There is need of harmony within ourselves. Many people are torn with conflicting emotions, with conflicting desires, and conflicting purposes. They have conflicting experiences. There is conflict in the soul, conflict in the mind, and this often results in inharmony in the body. We should carefully study ourselves to see where our discords are located. We should then set about removing these discords, getting ourselves into tune. We should create harmonious relations within ourselves, instead of allowing the inharmonies that exist to persist.

  To a very large extent we can have harmonious relations with others. There are some people who are not harmonious with whom we must have relations. The' are not willing to be in harmony with us or with other.. We should strive earnestly that on our part there shall be no inharmony. We should have no attitude of inharmony toward them, no feelings of inharmony, no disregard of their rights. On our part there can be the elements of harmony without respect to what is on their part.

  It is God's earnest desire and purpose to be in her" mony with all his creatures. He will do everything in his power to bring us into harmony with himself. There is always a way for us to come into harmony with him and that is not a difficult way if we just take the right way. This right way we can learn from God more readily than from any other source.

  Harmony produces a life worth living. In fact, the happiness of heaven results from its harmony. This is true of the home, of the church, of the neighborhood, of the nation. The Psalmist said, "As for me I am for peace." Peace is harmony. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." If we have in our hearts the attitude of peacemaker, if we strive earnestly for concord, we shall inevitably be happy. There will be things in life we cannot help, things that are unpleasant, some things that are hurtful, some things that must be endured, but these need not destroy the harmonies in our souls nor the harmonies of our joyous song nor the harmonies of our relation with everything else, except these particular things that cause trouble. We can shut these rings up into a limited area of our nature and not permit them to permeate all our being. We can restrict them to the space that circumstances actually demand and keep the rest of our life free.

  One important thing to observe is that we do not flat the tones. There is a natural disposition in many singers to fall below the pitch in singing. Thus they get out of harmony with those who keep the pitch. Or if it is a leader who gets out of pitch all the singers will soon be out of pitch. There is a tendency to fall Wow the standards we have set for ourselves. There is always the tendency to deteriorate in our spiritual lives. In other words there is a tendency to flat the tones. It is needful therefore that we frequently compare the pitch of our lives with the pitch pipe or the tuning fork that gives the correct pitch.

  God has a most excellent and most satisfactory tuning fork. It is the Bible. It will always give us the true pitch for life, the true tone for our songs. Again and again we should come to God in prayer and thus find if we are in tune with him, and if we are not, there be restored to his pitch.

  We shall never be like God in greatness and majesty end power. We shall ever be finite and have our faults and failings. Nevertheless we can keep our lives in tune with the infinite. We can have the tones of divine love, truth, and mercy abounding in our lives and thus the rich and splendid harmonies of heavenly music will be sounding in our hearts and in our lives and their tones will inspire those about us to high and holy things that will start the heavenly melodies ringing in them also.