This past Thursday morning, beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather Dan Erb passed into eternity and into the arms of our waiting Savior. For any who came in earshot of this joyful saint, they would encounter singing. At his funeral Monday morning, it was remarked by many that Dan had a song for every occasion, but especially for Christ – with “How Great Thou Art” and “Blessed Assurance” topping the list. In my visits with Dan over the years, we always ended up singing a stanza or two together. I held these memories dearly as I visited him in his final week and then during his funeral. Dan was a wonderful example of living out the Apostle Paul’s command to “Rejoice always, again I say rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).
Singing is an amazing thing. Whether musical gifting is possessed or not, there is a unique place that singing hymns and spiritual songs has for every believer. I believe that it is a God-given tool to help bring about joyful submission to the Lordship of Christ. I’ll try to explain what I mean through an example we all likely face week by week.
Let’s say that you awake one morning on the wrong side of the bed (figuratively speaking). Your day starts sour, and your mind and thought life that day seem on a terrible course to nowhere good along the lines of Paul’s instructions in Philippians 4:8. What to do? Enter “How Great Thou Art”. When we sincerely begin to sing while under the bleak fog of unbelief or inexplicable irritability, we are waging war against the flesh using some potent weaponry. Songs are meant to help rally us to what is true and thought-worthy. The erring emotion that often clouds me cannot abide when my lips are singing and my mind is engaging with:
“And when I think that God his Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin.”
The Christian must sing to maintain course in this life. Alongside prayer and Bible intake, it is our songs that help us to honor the Lord who bought us, and to aid us in slugging away against the Devil, this world and our flesh.