Expressing Appreciation in Song
WHAT reasons Christians have for expressing appreciation by thanksgiving and praise to their God Jehovah! Truly, “he is making green grass sprout for the beasts, and vegetation for the service of mankind, to cause food to go forth from the earth, and wine that makes the heart of mortal man rejoice, . . . and bread that sustains the very heart of mortal man.”—Ps. 104:14, 15.
Not only has God provided so well for the material needs of man (that many are without the things they need is not due to any fault of His), but He has also provided for sustaining the mind and “spirit” of man. As Jesus said: “Man cannot live on bread alone; he lives on every word that God utters.” (Matt. 4:4, New English Bible) Yes, God has given us his Word and has provided helps for us to understand it and he has given us the privilege of approaching him through prayer.—Ps. 65:2.
Surely for all the blessings we enjoy at God’s hand, both of a material and a “spiritual” nature, we owe him thanksgiving and praise. Most fittingly his Word abounds with commands for us to do so; a striking example being Psalm 136:1-26, wherein twenty-six times we are reminded that “his loving-kindness is to time indefinite.” Our expressing appreciation can be done in various ways: in prayer, by good conduct, by preaching and teaching God’s Word. And no doubt one of the most beautiful ways in which we can express our appreciation is by singing at congregation meetings.
Do we appreciate this privilege? Not all can enjoy it. Many Christians meet underground for united worship, that is, secretly, and so cannot sing songs of praise to Jehovah aloud, for that would betray their gathering. “Caesar” says, ‘Do not meet together,’ but God says, ‘Do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together.’ (Heb. 10:25) And since true Christians ‘obey God as ruler rather than men,’ they meet secretly. (Acts 5:29) This was the case with the Witnesses in Spain for more than thirty years. When at last they were able to meet openly they held a large assembly. Upon singing the first song they burst out in applause. Why? Because of the joy of being able to sing at their gatherings!
Likewise appreciative are the many thousands of Witnesses that fled Malawi and set up camps in Mozambique. Among the things that brought them great joy was their being able to sing again at their meetings, something they had not been able to do since they were driven underground by Dr. Banda in 1967.
The Bible tells of God’s people in times of old expressing their appreciation of Jehovah God and his saving acts by song. In particular does it tell of their doing so on special occasions, from the time of their deliverance from Pharaoh’s armies at the Red Sea to the inauguration of the walls of Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah. There was also much worship at the temple that involved the use of music, concerning which the musicologist Kurt Sachs writes: “The choruses and orchestras connected with the Temple in Jerusalem suggest a high standard of musical education, skill and knowledge.”
Most fittingly, time and again God’s Word tells us to voice appreciation by singing praises to God. Apparently there is a tendency to be lax in this regard, for so often the urgings are stated repetitively, as at Psalm 47:6, 7: “Make melody to God, make melody. Make melody to our King, make melody. For God is King of all the earth; make melody.” Five times the psalmist calls upon us to make melody.—See also Psalm 96:1, 2.
The apostle Paul, in urging Christians to praise God in song, follows a similar pattern, as at Colossians 3:16: “Keep on teaching and admonishing one another with  psalms,  praises to God,  spiritual songs with graciousness,  singing in your hearts to Jehovah.”—See also Ephesians 5:19.
Singing as a congregation is a part of our formal worship. It is directed to Jehovah and so we can have faith that Jehovah takes note of it, even as he does of our prayers and as he did in times past. (2 Chron. 5:13, 14) Just as we enter into the spirit of a prayer uttered publicly at our Kingdom Halls, so should we not with all our hearts, ‘with everything within us,’ enter into the singing of our Kingdom songs?—Ps. 103:1, 2.
Consider also the words of our songs. Should we not show appreciation for the fine sentiments they express? They are all taken from the Bible or Bible publications. Would it be fitting to sing about these precious truths in a half-hearted, perfunctory way? Yet sometimes that is done.
It takes effort to sing out. We may be a little tired and so feel inclined to follow the line of least resistance and sing without spirit. But if we put forth the effort and sing out, we will find that we will be feeling better and, at the same time, enjoy our singing. The fact is that music is known to have many benefits, helping to restore both mind and body as well as the emotions. Especially should those with good voices make it a point to sing out, as then others will most likely sing out also. And, of course, all should listen carefully to the musical accompaniment, whether furnished by a recording or by a pianist, so that the singing may be done as beautifully as possible.
Jehovah’s people have earned a good name as to their conduct. They have also acquired for themselves a fine reputation as to their Bible knowledge and their zeal in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom and in making disciples of people of all nations. (Matt. 28:19, 20) Should they not also be outstanding in their singing of Kingdom songs at their Kingdom Halls, even as the musical part of worship by Jehovah’s servants in ancient times was outstanding? Ever so many have been attracted to Jehovah’s worship by the sincere and friendly welcome extended to them as they visited one of these halls. And certainly the preaching and teaching by means of lectures, demonstrations, and so forth, are of a high order.—1 Cor. 14:24, 25.
That their singing can also serve to bring men to a knowledge of Jehovah God was shown by an experience of a woman who was baptized at the 1973 “Divine Victory” Assembly, Yankee Stadium, New York city. She had made her first visit to a local Kingdom Hall all by herself and stayed for both meetings. As the congregation sang Song No. 119, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!,” she was so impressed by both the words and the way they were sung that she decided that this is where she wanted to be. Afterward she approached one of the Witnesses and asked for a Bible study, and progressed right on to becoming a Christian witness of Jehovah.
So let each dedicated Christian witness of Jehovah resolve to do his or her part to make the singing at the Kingdom Hall such as reflects appreciation of Jehovah’s marvelous qualities and all that he has done for them materially and spiritually. ‘With everything within us’ let us ‘make melody to Jehovah!’