The Holy Spirit And Music
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 21 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit)
In the Old Testament the holy oil, representing the Holy Spirit, was poured and sprinkled on Aaron and his sons. Exodus 30:30-33, "And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto Me throughout your generations. Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people." No one else received this anointing. No one was allowed to make any other anointing oil, and the oil was not to be poured on a stranger. There were priests and Levites in the Old Testament chosen to minister.
Something wonderful was predicted in Joel 2:28, 29, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit." Notice, the Holy Spirit's power is for young men and old men, for servants and handmaids. It is for all of us. As believers, we are all priests. We are all to minister.
One of the ministers of the Levites was that of singing and providing other forms of music. How sad it is when religious music depreciates and degenerates by the use of the rock beat! How sad when something so spiritual as music becomes nothing more than a concert appealing to the flesh for which tickets are sold! Can you imagine Spirit-filled New Testament believers placing a price on their music? Would God the church of the Lord Jesus Christ could return to Colossians 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." Notice in this passage that we are to sing to each other. Singing is not just for those who have pleasant voices, and singing is not simply a display of some talent caused by the formation of a set of vocal cords.
As I grow older, I find myself bursting with song. The sad thing about it is, I am woefully lacking when it comes to singing! When I sing, David puts down his harp, Asaph resigns the choir of Heaven, and angels weep and Heaven's flag is flown at half-mast. In spite of this fact, when I am preaching I find myself unable to restrain a song. One day in a church service while I was preaching I just started to sing. Linda, our middle daughter who is married and a mother, leaned over to our youngest daughter, Cindy, who is likewise married and a mother, and said, "I just love to hear Daddy sing. His voice is so...so...so...sincere." I am afraid that she voiced the only good quality that my voice possesses!
Note in Colossians 3:16 the words, "teaching and admonishing." The words are important in music. it also means we are to use teaching songs in our services. Songs such as "He Leadeth Me," "Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned," "There is a Fountain Filled With Blood," "The Old Account was Settled Long Ago," and "Jesus Paid it All" teach us spiritual truths. What am improvement over the silly words that are found in the spiteful substitutes for music in this generation!
Then we are told to ADMONISH each other through our singing. This is done by such songs as "Our Best, " "Tell it to Jesus," "Help Somebody Today," "Brighten the Corner Where You Are," "Rescue the Perishing," etc. The wise song leader would choose some of each of these types of songs for the church service. He could be careful to include at least one song that teaches and one song that admonishes in each service.
We are also taught concerning the use of music as it relates to the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5:19, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord." It is very interesting that this follows the statement in Ephesians 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." We would be tempted to follow such a statement about Spirit-fulness with an activity such as preaching or soul winning, but the first statement that is made by the Holy Spirit after His fulness is mentioned is that of music!
Notice the three types of singing here. First, THE PSALM. There is not doubt but that the Christian should sing the Psalms. Many of them have been put to music. "In Shady Green Pastures So Rich and So Sweet, God Leads His Dear Children Along," "Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me All the Days of My Life," and one of the verses in t he song, "The Joy of the Lord is My Strength" would be a few examples. A music director, or for that matter, a layman, could collect all of the psalms that he can find which have been put to music. They should be used.
I have found that it is easy to make up my own tune as I sing a psalm. I just make it up as I go along.
Now also notice that HYMNS are mentioned. These are songs of praise addressed to God. Songs such as "Saviour, More Than Life to Me," "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," etc. These also should be a part of our musical repertoire.
We also find in Ephesians 5:19 the mention of SPIRITUAL SONGS. Songs like "Blessed Assurance," "At the Cross," "At Calvary," which are neither hymns nor psalms, can certainly be use with great blessing.
We have mentioned five types of songs: (1) songs that teach, (2) songs that admonish, (3) psalms, (4) hymns, (5) spiritual songs. All of these should be included as the Christian sings to himself and as we sing to one another in the services of the church.
We are also told to sing to ourselves. How about singing in the bathtub, while doing the dishes, while walking, and while working! My favorite singer is me! Your favorite singer is you!! I love to hear myself sing! You love to hear yourself sing!
When I get up in the morning, I always ask the Holy Spirit to give me a chorus or a song for the day. Choruses such as "Everything's All Right in My Father's House," "Yesterday, Today, Forever," "Let's Talk About Jesus," "Isn't He Wonderful!" "Only Believe," etc. can be in the subconscious mind throughout the day as we hum, whistle and sing.
So many times my song or chorus for the day has been used by the Holy Spirit in a wonderful way. I had just boarded a plane in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was humming, whistling and singing, "I am so glad that My Father in Heaven tells of His love in the Book He has given. Wonderful things in the Bible I see, this is the dearest that Jesus loves me. I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me, I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves even me." The stewardess approached me and said, "Mister, you sound happy." I replied, "I certainly am." She said, "What kind of music is that that you are singing?" Without a thought, I replied, "Rock music." She said, "That doesn't sound like rock music. Sing some of it to me." I sang, "ROCK of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee," I also said, "It is rock and ROLL." She said, "Where is the roll?" I sang, "When the ROLL is called up yonder, I'll be there." She laughed and laughed, and in a few minutes I was telling her the wonderful story of Jesus. Standing in the aisle of the plane she unashamedly bowed her head and prayed with tears moistening her eyes.
One time while I was waiting for my luggage at O'Hare Field in Chicago, I was whistling, "There's a land that is fairer than day, and by faith I can see it afar; for the Father waits over the way to prepare us a dwelling place there. In the sweet by and by..." An elderly man walked up to me and said, "Mister, I know that song, and what a blessing it is to hear you whistle it. You see," he said, "I have been serving as a foreign missionary for many years. My health has forced me to return home. I am in America for the first time in years, and I hunger for the field where I have served for most of my life. You have no idea what your song meant to me."
Another time I was being served in a cafeteria in Garland, Texas. I was alone, and as I pushed my tray along the counter I was whistling, "Oh, how I love Jesus." An elderly lady who was serving my vegetables looked up, smiled and said, "I do too." I replied, "You do what?" She said, "I love Jesus too." I did not even know I was whistling!
Our church used to sing this little song: "Get the new look from the old Book; get the new look from the Bible. Get the new look from the old Book; get the new look from God's Word-the inward look, the outward look, the upward look, from the old, old Book. Get the new look from the old Book; get the new look from God's Word," When we would come to any word mentioning the Bible, such as "the old Book," we would hold our Bibles high and wave them. One day this was my song for the day. I was sitting in a restaurant in Decatur, Georgia, eating a bite and reading the newspaper. Upon finishing my meal, I folded the newspaper and began to walk back to my room. As I walked along the highway, I was humming the aforementioned song. Subconsciously, I raised the newspaper in the air every time I came to the word "Bible" or "Book." I was not even aware of it. A car stopped. The driver said, "Sir, are you trying to sell that newspaper?" I laughed and told him our custom at our church, and then I told him of our Saviour. Beside the highway, he bowed his head and received Christ!
Recently I was on an airplane flying west. I was not aware of it, but I was humming some old songs of the faith. A well-to-do, middle-aged man sitting beside me looked over and said, "Those are the songs my mother used to sing." I said, "Sir, do you have the faith your mother used to have?" Through tears he said, "No, I do not." I told him of that faith, and he received Christ on the airplane. What a ministry music can be if we sing spiritual songs and sing then in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Spirit-filled singing played such a part in the Word of God. Of course, the Psalms formed the songbook for the Israelites. They were known as a singing people. When they were taken into captivity in Babylon, even the Babylonian people asked them to sing. Note Psalm 137:3, "For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion." But, sad to day, the Israelites when they perhaps needed to sing the most hanged their harps on the willows. Psalm 137:1, 2, "By the rivers of Babylon, there sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof." They refused to sing the Lord's song because they were in a strange land. Psalm 137:4, "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" Their deliverance from captivity returned their song. Psalm 126:1, 2, "When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them."
When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they sang for joy. When God gave the victory to Barak and Deborah, the occasion was marked by singing. When our Lord observed the last supper with His apostles, the Holy Spirit reminds us, "when they had sung a song, they went out into the Mount of Olives."
Spirit filled music is vital to any endeavor for God. Let it not be forgotten that when the Apostle mentions being filled with the Spirit, he immediately mentions music!
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"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." —Billy SUNDAY