[From ws11/17 p. 3 –December 25-31]
“It is good to sing praises to our God.” – Ps 147:1
The opening paragraph of this study states:
It is no wonder that singing is a prominent aspect of pure worship, whether we are alone when we sing or we are with the congregation of God’s people. – par. 1
Singing is also a prominent aspect of false worship. So the question becomes, how do we protect ourselves so that our singing is acceptable to our God?
It is easy to sing a song someone else has written, feeling that one is merely engaging in an activity, not expressing personal feelings or beliefs. That may be true for recreational singing, but in the case of singing praises to Jehovah, we should bear in mind that singing out loud so as to praise our God in song means that we’re accepting and publicly proclaiming as true the words coming forth from our mouth. They become our words, our feelings, our beliefs. Really, these are not songs, but hymns. A hymn is defined as “a religious song or poem, typically of praise to God or a god.” The Organization discourages the use of that word as part of its effort to differentiate itself from the rest of Christendom, but replacing it with the common word “song” fails to speak to its true nature. In reality, we do not have a songbook, but a hymnbook.
I could sing the main song from the movie “Frozen”, but when I say, “The cold never bothered me anyway”, I’m not speaking for myself, and anyone listening wouldn’t think I was. I’m just singing the lyrics. However, when I sing a hymn, I’m proclaiming my belief in and acceptance of the words I’m singing. Now I may put my own interpretation on those words, but I have to consider the context and how others within that same context would understand what I’m singing. To illustrate, take song 116 from Sing to Jehovah:
2. Our Lord has appointed a trustworthy slave,
Through whom He gives food in due season.
The light of the truth has grown brighter with time,
Appealing to heart and to reason.
Our path ever clearer, our steps ever firm,
We walk in the brightness of day.
All thanks to Jehovah, the Source of all truth,
We most gratefully walk in his way.
Our path now becomes ever brighter;
We walk in the full light of day.
Behold what our God is revealing;
He guides us each step of the way.
For example, in the Kingdom Hall, all who sing this hymn accept that the “trustworthy slave” is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They also acknowledge that the light getting brighter is a reference to Proverbs 4:18 which is understood to refer to the Scriptural interpretations of the Governing Body. As the hymn states, they believe that Jehovah is guiding the Governing Body “each step of the way.” So whatever you or I may believe, if we were to sing these words out loud in the congregation, we’d be telling everyone, including our Lord Jesus and our God Jehovah that we agree with the official understanding.
If we do, that is fine. We would simply be working within the bounds of our conscience based on our current understanding of truth. However, if we don’t agree, we would be going against our conscience which, based on the words of Paul at Romans chapter 14, would not be a good thing.