Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 4, 1952

Scriptural Singing

— F. Y. T.

Nearly every gospel preacher we know will preach a sermon on occasion showing the sinfulness of instrumental music in Christian worship. Or at least that was so until recently. It is possible now that some have discarded that sermon from their list. They may be of the same attitude as the well-known middle Tennessee preacher who has been remarking lately that "If I had lived when the controversy over the missionary societies was raging, I would very likely have gone with the society people; for "I can't see very much harm in the idea of an organization like that." But that brother is in the minority, and so far as this journal is concerned we'd like to see that minority become even more minor than it is.

It is right to preach sermons and to give lessons repeatedly on the sinfulness of instrumental music in the worship and the defiance of God's arrangements which is implicit in any kind of society to do the work of the church. But while we are showing the sinfulness of those things, let us not neglect to emphasize and encourage the right kind of music and the right organization for doing the work. A poor, weak, discordant and half-hearted singing on the part of the congregation is no excuse at all for an organ or piano to be introduced; but who can deny that weak and untaught members are often started on their way to apostasy by such a miserable showing in our singing?

Of late years the churches, particularly in the west, are making real progress in the matter of teaching and encouraging scriptural singing. The old fashioned "singing school" has almost disappeared, and for a score of years there was little to take its place. But within the last decade a number of congregations have begun to put forth some very constructive efforts in the right direction. A "singing normal" is the method now by which the churches, many of them, are seeking to help congregational singing. Places like Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Amarillo, and Plainview, Texas, have of recent years had outstanding success in these normals. There are several regular normals held each year, such as the one conducted by brother Edgar Furr and brother Austin Taylor at Sabinal, Texas.

This article is being written on the camp ground at Nolanville, Texas, where we are engaged in the annual camp meeting. Song director this year, as well as last year, is brother Palmer Wheeler, one of the finest song leaders we have ever worked with. Brother Wheeler conducts several singing classes each day with the younger people here, and is wonderfully effective in inspiring the young people with the idea of good singing and the desire to participate in it. We have observed this sort of practice to be growing in gospel meetings of late years. With capable singing teachers helping in gospel meetings the practice will likely grow rather than diminish. And it is all to the good. Our "singing" problem in the churches is a spiritual rather than a musical one. When congregations are taught and instructed as to the place of congregational singing in Christian worship, there will be the sort of singing that will glorify God and "teach and admonish" the singers.

We would like to encourage the singing normals in every way. Evidence of their effectiveness in improving the quality of our singers (and, incidentally, of our songs) is abundant. We have seen young men and even boys come out of these schools with a real foundation laid for future development as fine song leaders. Certainly the schools are worth the effort and the expense, relatively minor, of putting them on. And the brethren who work so diligently in them are worthy of our praise and thanks.