Sing Praises to Jehovah
“Let me sing to Jehovah, for he has become highly exalted.”—EXODUS 15:1.
1. What attributes and qualities of Jehovah give us reason to praise him?
THIRTEEN times Psalm 150 gives the command to praise Jehovah or Jah. The last verse proclaims: “Every breathing thing—let it praise Jah. Praise Jah, you people!” As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we know that Jehovah is deserving of our praise. He is the Universal Sovereign, the Most High, the King of eternity, our Creator, our Benefactor. He is matchless, unique, incomparable, peerless in many ways. He is omniscient, omnipotent, perfect in justice, and the personification of love. He above all others is good; he is loyal. (Luke 18:19; Revelation 15:3, 4) Is he deserving of our praise? He most certainly is!
2. What reasons do we have for expressing gratitude to Jehovah?
2 Jehovah is deserving not only of our worship and praise but also of our gratitude and thanks for all he has done for us. He is the Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present.” (James 1:17) He is the Fountain, the Source, of all life. (Psalm 36:9) All things we enjoy as members of the human race are from him, for he is our Grand Creator. (Isaiah 42:5) He is also the Giver of all the spiritual blessings that come to us through his spirit, his organization, and his Word. We have forgiveness of sins on the basis of his providing his Son as our ransom. (John 3:16) We have the Kingdom hope of ‘new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell.’ (2 Peter 3:13) We have fine association with fellow Christians. (Romans 1:11, 12) We have the honor and blessings of being his Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12) And we have the precious privilege of prayer. (Matthew 6:9-13) Truly, we have many reasons to give thanks to Jehovah!
Ways in Which We Can Praise Jehovah
3. In what various ways can we praise Jehovah and express our gratitude to him?
3 How can we, as Jehovah’s devoted servants, praise him and express our gratitude? We can do so by sharing in the Christian ministry—witnessing from house to house, making return visits, conducting Bible studies, and engaging in street witnessing. We can also praise him by witnessing informally whenever the opportunity presents itself. Then again, we can praise Jehovah by our upright conduct, even by the neat and modest way we dress and groom ourselves. Jehovah’s Witnesses have often been praised for being exemplary in these respects. Moreover, we can praise Jehovah and thank him through prayer.—See 1 Chronicles 29:10-13.
4. What is one of the most beautiful ways we can praise our loving heavenly Father?
4 In addition, one of the most beautiful ways we can praise our loving heavenly Father is by extolling him and his virtues with melodious Kingdom songs. Many musicians and composers agree that the most beautiful musical instrument is the human voice. The masters of classical music aspired to write operas because there is so much satisfaction in listening to the human voice lifted up in song.
5. For what reasons should we take our singing of Kingdom songs seriously?
5 How Jehovah must enjoy listening to humans singing, especially when they are singing songs of praise and gratitude! Surely then, we should take seriously our singing of Kingdom songs at our various gatherings—congregation meetings, circuit assemblies, special assembly days, district conventions, and international conventions. Our songbook abounds with truly delightful melodies, the beauty of which has frequently been praised by outsiders. The more we enter into the spirit of singing Kingdom songs, the more we bring pleasure to others and benefit to ourselves.
Singing Praises to Jehovah in Bible Times
6. How did the Israelites express appreciation for their deliverance at the Red Sea?
6 God’s Word tells us that Moses and the rest of the Israelites sang triumphantly on being delivered from Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea. Their song began with the words: “Let me sing to Jehovah, for he has become highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has pitched into the sea. My strength and my might is Jah, since he serves for my salvation. This is my God, and I shall laud him.” (Exodus 15:1, 2) We can well imagine the enthusiasm and joy of the Israelites as they sang those words after their miraculous deliverance!
7. What other notable instances do the Hebrew Scriptures record of the Israelites praising Jehovah in song?
7 At 1 Chronicles 16:1, 4-36, we read that Jehovah was praised by singing and by the playing of musical instruments when David brought the Ark to Jerusalem. That was a truly joyous occasion. There was also a singing of praise to Jehovah accompanied by instrumental music at the time King Solomon dedicated the temple at Jerusalem. We read at 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14: “It came about that as soon as the trumpeters and the singers were as one in causing one sound to be heard in praising and thanking Jehovah, and as soon as they lifted up the sound with the trumpets and with the cymbals and with the instruments of song and with praising Jehovah, ‘for he is good, for to time indefinite is his loving-kindness,’ the house itself was filled with a cloud, the very house of Jehovah, and the priests were not able to stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of Jehovah filled the house of the true God.” What does that show? That Jehovah was listening to this melodious praise and was also pleased with it, as was indicated by the supernatural cloud. Later, there was singing by two choirs at the time of the inauguration of Jerusalem’s walls in the days of Nehemiah.—Nehemiah 12:27-42.
8. What shows that singing was taken seriously by the Israelites?
8 In fact, singing was such an important part of worship at the temple that 4,000 Levites were set apart for musical service. (1 Chronicles 23:4, 5) These would accompany the singers. Music, especially singers, occupied an important place in worship, not necessarily to instill the weightier matters of the Law, but to provide the right spirit for worship. It helped the Israelites to worship Jehovah in a spirited way. Notice the preparation and attention to detail that were devoted to this feature: “The number of them together with their brothers trained in song to Jehovah, all experts, came to be two hundred and eighty-eight.” (1 Chronicles 25:7) Notice how seriously they took the singing of praise to Jehovah. They were trained in song and were experts!
9. What emphasis is given to singing in the Christian Greek Scriptures?
9 Coming to the first century of our common era, what do we find? Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, with so many weighty matters on his mind, still felt the need to conclude his celebration of the Passover and the institution of the Memorial of his death by singing praises to Jehovah. (Matthew 26:30) Also, we read that at “about the middle of the night,” Paul and Silas, after having been beaten and imprisoned, “were praying and praising God with song; yes, the prisoners were hearing them.”—Acts 16:25.
Singing Praises —An Important Part of Our Worship
10. What commands does God’s Word give as to praising him in song?
10 Do you perhaps feel that the singing of Kingdom songs is not important enough for you to give it your heartfelt attention? If so, should you not reevaluate the matter, in view of the importance that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ place on the singing of praises? Why, God’s Word is filled with commands to praise Jehovah and sing praises to him! For example, at Isaiah 42:10, we read: “Sing to Jehovah a new song, his praise from the extremity of the earth, you men that are going down to the sea and to that which fills it, you islands and you inhabiting them.”—See also Psalm 96:1; 98:1.
11. What admonition did the apostle Paul give as to singing?
11 The apostle Paul knew that singing could lift our spirits, so he admonished us twice on the matter. We read at Ephesians 5:18, 19: “Keep getting filled with spirit, speaking to yourselves with psalms and praises to God and spiritual songs, singing and accompanying yourselves with music in your hearts to Jehovah.” And at Colossians 3:16, we read: “Let the word of the Christ reside in you richly in all wisdom. Keep on teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, praises to God, spiritual songs with graciousness, singing in your hearts to Jehovah.”
12. What examples do we have of our songs helping us to teach and admonish one another?
12 Note that in each instance Paul makes repeated references to singing, when he mentions ‘psalms, praises to God, spiritual songs, singing with music in your hearts.’ Also, he prefaces his remarks to the Colossians by saying that by this means we can be “teaching and admonishing one another.” And that we certainly do, as can be seen by the very titles of our songs—“All Creation, Praise Jehovah!” (number 5), “Be Steadfast, Unmovable!” (number 10), “Be Joyful for the Kingdom Hope!” (number 16), “Fear Them Not!” (number 27), “Laud Jehovah Our God!” (number 100), to give but a few examples.
13. How has “the faithful and discreet slave” shown the importance of singing as part of our worship?
13 In harmony with these commands, “the faithful and discreet slave” has arranged that our gatherings—congregation meetings, circuit assemblies, special assembly days, district conventions, and international conventions—open and close with the singing of Kingdom songs. (Matthew 24:45) In addition, songs are scheduled to be sung at other times during these gatherings. Since our meetings usually begin with the singing of a Kingdom song, should we not make it a point to arrive on time, early enough to share in that part of our worship? And since the meetings close with singing, should we not remain until the closing song and the prayer that immediately follows it?
14. What examples do we have of fitting songs being chosen for our programs?
14 The songs at our meetings are carefully chosen to harmonize with the program. For example, at the “Divine Teaching” District Conventions in 1993, song number 191, “Make the Truth Your Own,” which encourages Christians to contend with Satan, the world, and the fallen flesh, immediately followed the three talks that dealt with these foes. Likewise, song number 164, “Children—Precious Gifts From God,” which abounds in admonition to parents, followed right after a talk highlighting parents’ obligations to train their children. Song number 70, “Be Like Jeremiah,” preceded a series of talks based on Jeremiah’s prophecies. And after a symposium on various aspects of our Kingdom ministry came song number 156, “I Want To,” a very service-oriented song. The same care is exercised in choosing songs for the Watchtower Study, the Service Meeting, and the Theocratic Ministry School. It follows that when elders give public talks and indicate the song to be used to open the program, they should choose a song that fits the theme of their talk.
15. How may the meeting chairman enhance appreciation for the song to be sung?
15 In announcing the song to be sung, the chairman may enhance appreciation for the song by giving its title or theme. We do not sing numbers but Scriptural themes. Also it would help the congregation to appreciate the song more if the scripture given under the title is noted. Then again, a few remarks might be in order, such as that all should enter into the spirit of the song.
Show Appreciation for Jehovah’s Goodness by Singing
16. How can we enter into the spirit of our songs?
16 Since the lyrics of our Kingdom songs are full of meaning, we need to concentrate on the words as we sing them. We want to enter into the spirit of each song. Some, such as those dealing with love, a fruit of the spirit, are heartfelt. (Galatians 5:22) These we sing with intensity and warmth. Others are joyous, and we should try to sing them happily. Still others are vigorous marching songs, and these should be sung with enthusiasm and strong confidence. In our Theocratic Ministry School, we are counseled to express warmth and feeling as well as enthusiasm in our presentations. To display warmth, feeling, and enthusiasm when singing our songs is even more important.
17. (a) What censure given the unfaithful Israelites would we not want to have apply to our singing? (b) What results when we take seriously the admonition contained in our songs?
17 If we were to sing our Kingdom songs with our minds on other things, not fully appreciating the meaning of the words, would we not be somewhat like the unfaithful Israelites who were reproved because, while they praised God with their lips, their hearts were far removed from him? (Matthew 15:8) We do not want that censure to apply to our way of singing Kingdom songs, do we? By doing justice to the singing of our Kingdom songs, we will stimulate not only ourselves but also those around us, including the young ones. Yes, if all who sing at our Kingdom Halls took seriously the admonition these songs contain, this would be a powerful encouragement to be zealous in the ministry and avoid the snares of wrongdoing.
18. What effect did the singing of Kingdom songs have on a certain woman?
18 Time and again, outsiders are impressed by our singing of Kingdom songs. The Watchtower once published this item: “That [our] 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 . . . ‘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 [she] progressed right on to becoming a Christian witness of Jehovah.”
19. What final encouragement is given as to singing our Kingdom songs wholeheartedly?
19 At most of our meetings, there are comparatively few opportunities for the audience to express their feelings and appreciation. But all of us can express the way we feel about Jehovah’s goodness by heartily joining in the singing of Kingdom songs. Besides, when we meet together, are we not in good spirits? So we should feel like singing! (James 5:13) Really, to the extent that we appreciate Jehovah’s goodness and his undeserved kindness, we will sing out whole-souled praises to him.
How Do You Answer?
□ What are two basic reasons for praising Jehovah?
□ In what various ways can we praise Jehovah?
□ What is one of the most beautiful ways we can praise Jehovah?
□ What Scriptural examples do we have of praising Jehovah in song?
□ How can we do justice to our singing of Kingdom songs?
[Box on page 11]
Enjoy Those Songs!
It appears that some have had a little difficulty in learning a number of the songs. However, some congregations have had no major problem with singing most of these songs. Perhaps just a little more effort to learn what at first seems unfamiliar may be all that is needed. Once having become familiar with such songs, the congregation often appreciates them more than those that required no effort to learn. Then all in the congregation can sing them confidently. Yes, they can enjoy those songs!
[Box on page 12]
Sing Kingdom Songs at Social Gatherings
Our singing of Kingdom songs need not be limited to the Kingdom Hall. Paul and Silas sang praises to Jehovah while in prison. (Acts 16:25) And the disciple James said: “Is there anyone in good spirits? Let him sing praises to God.” (James 5:13, footnote) At social gatherings everyone is in good spirits. So why not sing Kingdom songs? This can be especially delightful if the singing is accompanied with the piano or the guitar. Otherwise, there are the piano tapes of our Kingdom songs; many Witness families have the album of these tapes. They not only serve well to accompany singing but are also ideal for beautiful background music.
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After their deliverance at the Red Sea, Israel expressed their joy in song
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Joyful song is a part of Christian worship today