Spurgeon knew the song of the Church should rightly magnify the Lord. While preaching to his congregation, he implored them to “mark how the music of the church is set to the same tune as that of heaven and earth — ‘Great God, thou art to be magnified.’” Their pastor understood God should not be magnified mindlessly. For who loves God without first knowing Him? Who truly praises God without first knowing whom they praise?
Charles Spurgeon’s theology of music enriched his relationship with God and strengthened his ministry to God’s people. Though his own life was a complex mixture of blissful harmony and piercing dissonance, Spurgeon faithfully heralded the hope of “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” with a heart attuned to the Lord. I hope that we, the Church, will benefit from listening to such a voice meditate on the importance of musical worship.
The Chorus of The Universe
Known as the “Prince of Preachers” for his faithful performance in the pulpit, Surgeon’s own verbal and written communication had a mellifluous quality. With “poetry in every feature and every movement, as well as music in the voice,” the prolific pastor was quite literally an instrument of the Lord. Drinking in General and Special Revelation of God caused beauty to pour from Spurgeon’s mouth and flow from his pen.
In one sermon, Spurgeon described a moment of joy as when “all the world was full of music through the music that was in your heart. And, after all, what is man but the great musician of the world?” He knew God’s gift of song to this earth was meant to be given back to Him. From the rustling of falling leaves, to the dripping of the rain, to the whistling of the wind, to the silence of the mountains—all things gladly extol the King who commanded them. His focus then became: How much more should the vocal cords of the adopted sons and daughters of that Creator sing His praise?
Let Us Exalt His Name Together
Spurgeon believed the Church is commanded to sing. He regularly cited Ephesians 5:19, which implores believers to “address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” and be “singing and making melody to the Lord with [their] heart.” While Spurgeon believed each believer in Christ should bring the fragrant offering of their voices to God, his emphasis was on the Church collectively worshipping the Lord.
Two of the clearest examples of how the Prince of Preachers sought to encourage excellence in congregational worship were his composition of the Treasury of David and his compilation of hymns in Our Own Hymn Book. In both cases, Spurgeon saw a need in the Church for a right understanding of musical worship grounded in the Scriptures and tried to meet it through extensive personal study as well as thoughtful collaboration with other saints.