1. Intelligently. We are rational beings. This is a reasonable service. “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” It requires the concentrated action of all the mental faculties, as well as previous familiarity with the matter of the Psalms. On this account they should be regularly explained from Sabbath to Sabbath. Where their excellence is appreciated they will never be laid aside.

2. With the heart. God looketh on the heart. He says to every worshipper, “My son, give me thine heart.” When filled with love, and joy, and gratitude, how it beats responsive in his presence, imparts its own thrilling emotions to the music and the psalm, and pours out its richest and its sweetest treasures unsparingly at his feet! Without this, the finest music and the noblest Psalmody are empty and worthless offerings—not better than the husks which swine do eat.

3. With the voice. It is the divine outlet and utterance of the mind and heart in man. God’s voice is himself, and we receive it as such. So when we ask God to accept of us we say—hear my cry, attend to my voice. It is a distinctive and inseparable part of ourselves; the natural embodiment of our emotions and desires. We cannot give utterance to them without it. God has made it with special adaptation to this end, and therefore it is, beyond all comparison, the most consummate organ of expression and of praise. He formed it for himself, and claims its most skilful intonations for his worship. We insult, but do not praise God when we use mechanical instruments in its stead. If there be “no essential distinction between the music of the voice and the music of an instrument,” may we not use instruments to deepen and interpret our emotions in prayer as well as in praise? The church of Rome plays her litanies and masses with as much propriety and effect as she plays her anthems and oratorios. This substitution of man-made instruments and offices in place of God’s is the very core of Anti-Christian worship. The early Christians perfectly understood the symbolical import of the musical instruments which are mentioned in the book of Psalms, and could sing about them with as much freedom and intelligence as they sang of the sacrifices, which no one thinks of renewing. Thus Clement of Alexandria, at the close of the second century, refers to those mentioned in the 150th Psalm. “Praise him with the psaltery. The tongue is the psaltery of the Lord. Praise Him on the lyre. By the lyre is meant the mouth struck by the spirit as it were by a plectrum. Praise him on the chords and organ. Our body he calls an organ, and its nerves are the strings by which it has received harmonious tension, and when struck by the Spirit it gives forth human voices.” The common sense of the Church in all ages has declared that instrumental music may be calculated to gratify the senses and inflame the passions, but not to aid, unless as types or symbols, the devotions of men. It properly belongs to the public procession and the battlefield, to the theatre and the drinking saloon, but not to the Church of the living God.

4. With distinct enunciation. Every word, as well as every note, should be clearly pronounced. Otherwise, to a stranger coming into the Church, our singing might as well be in an unknown tongue.

5. Skilfully. The art of singing cannot be learned without much study and practice. It is a divine art, and should be cultivated incessantly for the glory of God’s name and the improvement of his worship. “As it is commanded of God that all should sing, so all should make conscience of learning to sing. Those, therefore, who neglect to learn to sing live in sin, as they neglect what is necessary to one of the ordinances of God’s worship.” If any say the heart is everything in praise, we reply they can have no heart whatever in the exercise who do not strive to perform it in the most skilful and perfect manner. In every congregation there should be a standing class for the improvement of sacred music.

6. With appropriate melody. Each psalm has its own character and style, and should have its own tune. The collection is not too large for this. The Reformers everywhere accomplished it with ease. Some of the longer historical psalms are specially adapted for chanting, and chanting is the most simple, ancient, and devotional form of all music. Every tune should be marked by a religious character; the singer and the hearer should at once feel that they are not in the theatre, or the concert-room, or in the private social party, but in the house of the most high God.

7. Harmoniously. All voices are not alike. In pitch as well as in tone they have deep natural distinctions. Instead of vainly trying to obliterate these distinctions, we should aim to harmonise them in God’s worship. Human voices resolve themselves into what is called four-part harmony, a natural arrangement by which the different voices of women and men are employed together, according to their pitch. Each individual should find out his own proper part, and cultivate and practise it in full-toned harmony with all the rest. When two or three meet together in the name of Christ they are required to agree together, or harmonise, as to what they shall ask, and as to their general intercourse and action for the common good. Should they not, in the same manner, tune their feelings and voices to sing together in the harmonious expression of their common praise?

8. In the way of direct and sustained adoration. “O come, let us sing unto the Lord. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods.” Yet how often do the indolent posture, the wandering eyes, the frequent interruptions, that would not be permitted during prayer, indicate the want of that solemnity which befits an act of divine worship! When the Jews sang praises they bowed their heads and worshipped, and the redeemed in the Apocalyptic heaven fall down and cast their crowns before the throne. Should not we also take the attitude of highest respect and adoration when engaged in this exercise? “Thou, even thou, art to be feared; and who may stand in thy sight if once thou art angry?” “Praise ye the Lord. Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.”