Wilhelmus a Brakel’s Exhortations to Sing

Earlier this week, I posted a quote from pastor/theologian Wilhelmus a Brakel (1635-1711) concerning his frustration with the Dutch churches’ lack of passion in their singing.  That post is found HERE.

He follows up his lament by positing five reasons to “stir up everyone to sing… therefore, believers, dispense with this listlessness!” (that quote, along with the following five exhortations to sing, is found in The Christian’s Reasonable Service, volume 4: Ethics and Eschatology, published by RHB, 1995, pages 35-37):

First, you must know that singing is not a neutral matter in which you may or may not engage.  Rather, it is God’s command [Psalm 100:2, Isaiah 12:5, 27:2, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, James 5:13, I Corinthians 14:15 Revelation 5:9]… Begin to engage in this duty with an obedient heart; break open your mouth and your closed heart will open as well.

Secondly, God has created this ability in the very nature of man…  Would you, who have the greatest reason in the world to sing joyously, be dumb and silent?

Thirdly, [singing] is the work of angels, for they glorify the Lord in song (cf. Job 38:7, Luke 2:13-14, Revelation 5:11-12), and it is the work of the church upon earth and in heaven (Revelation 5:9, 14:3, 15:3)… If you have no desire to sing, then what will you do in church and in heaven?  Furthermore, if you are desirous to magnify the Lord with an eternal hallelujah, you should presently begin upon earth.

Fourthly, God is particularly pleased when His children praise Him in song (Psalm 22:3, II Chronicles 5:13-14, 20:22, Acts 25-26)… Therefore, if you are desirous to please the Lord, and delight in having the Lord visit your soul, and desire to experience His help, then accustom yourself to singing.

Fifthly, signing will move a heart which frequently remains unmoved during prayer.  It can be that while singing the tears will drip upon the book… Others will therefore be stirred up by your singing…

Therefore, no longer be silent, but lift up your voices – in spite of the devil, and all the enemies of God – to the honor and glory of your God… it will then become manifest to all natural men that godliness is a joyous rather than a grievous life, and they will become desirous for this as well.  And if you sing, sing with understanding, with a fervent desire, conscious of the presence of the Lord… with a modest demeanor, and with both inner and external attentiveness, so that it may all be becoming before the Lord and to the edification of others who surround us.

Let us keep these exhortations in mind as we go up to God’s house to worship Him with song tomorrow and in the rest of our lives.



2 Responses to “Wilhelmus a Brakel’s Exhortations to Sing”

  1. 1 Gary September 8, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Amen! As enjoyable as it may be to listen while others sing, it is SO much more obedient, uplifting and God-honoring to pour out praise ourselves.

  2. 2 Michael Kearney September 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Great quote! See also an earlier post entitled “But I Can’t Sing” (May 9th, 2012).

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