Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

Col. 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Our God is a musical Being. He established the use of music early in the history of Israel, assigning the priestly tribe, Levi, to provide music in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. I’m so glad He loves music! It has always been part of my life, from my earliest memories of hearing my mom sing as she worked in the kitchen. I remember the gospel music of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, with Rudy Atwood at the piano. George Beverly Shea, Ronnie Avalon, and so many others. Later, my sister and I sang trio with my mom. I learned to play the piano, as well as, later, the violin and organ. Music in a church that loves to sing is such a thrill and a joy! I loved the old-fashioned hymn sings we’d have after the evening service. One of my most enduring memories, though, is from Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis. The morning service always started when the organist played the opening chords, as the congregation rose, and we sang “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!” I’d get goose bumps every single time!

Today’s verse is a favorite of mine.

The only way to have the Word of Christ dwelling in us is to read it, study it, memorize it. It should be a daily part of every believer’s life. We can never plumb the depths of His Word, not in a lifetime, and it never becomes stale.

It is to dwell in us richly, in all wisdom. Deeply, sincerely, in a way that blesses others, we are to gain wisdom from the Word. We are to share the Word with others in teaching each other, and admonishing each other. To admonish is to reprove gently, to warn. Such is to come not just from the pulpit, but among the members of the body when one sees a need. It is to be done with wisdom and grace, so that it may be received in the same spirit. Criticism is not the same as admonishment. God never tells us to go around being critical of each other.

Sometimes we can admonish one another in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs. It is difficult to know if there is truly any difference among those three things. Most commentators I’ve read believe it is written this way for emphasis rather than for dividing music into categories.

In Bible college, I took a course in hymnology. We studied the history of church music, and the way it evolved from the earliest records of written music, to the chants and liturgical music in the early church, to what we knew (this was in the 1960’s) as hymns and gospel songs. Our teacher said that there IS a difference between the two. A hymn is about God; Who He is, what He has done. Think of songs like “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” or “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

A gospel song is about our reaction to God. There are so many! Think of “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!” or “I Love to Tell the Story of Unseen Things Above!”

When we sing, we are to do so with grace in our hearts to the Lord. We sing, not for our own glory, but for His. He gave us music. He gave us the talent to play instruments, to write music, to sing to His glory. Let it always be with joy in our hearts, with love for fellow believers, with the sheer joy of the gift of music.

Here’s someone who understands all that:

4 thoughts on “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

    1. You wouldn’t believe all the hymns I have stored in my brain :)When you’ve sung them since early childhood, they stay with you.

      Thanks so much for the encouraging comment.

      Like

  1. Thank you for that encouragement. I don’t have a solo voice or even a choir voice, but I do love to sing and listen to music. I don’t remember ever hearing Wintley Phipps before, but, WOW! He sang with such power and emotion. What a blessing!

    Liked by 1 person

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