Posted by: Sherry Goodwin | May 7, 2008

The Ministry of Song

IN God’s great field of labour
All work is not the same;
He hath a service for each one
Who loves His holy name.
And you, to whom the secrets
Of all sweet sounds are known,
Rise up!  for He hath called you
To a mission of your own.
And, rightly to fulfil it,
His grace can make you strong,
Who to your charge hath given
The Ministry of Song.

Sing to the little children,
And they will listen well;
Sing grand and holy music,
For they can feel its spell,
Tell them the tale of Jephthah;
Then sing them what he said,–
‘Deeper and deeper still,’ and watch
How the little cheek grows red,
And the litttle breath comes quicker:
They will ne’er forget the tale,
Which the song has fastened surely,
As with a golden nail.

I remember, late one evening,
How the music stopped, for, hark!
Charlie’s nursery door was open,
He was calling in the dark,–
‘Oh no!  I am not frightened,
And I do not want a light;
But I cannot sleep for thinking
Of the song you sang last night.
Something about a “valley,”
And “make rough places plain,”
And “Comfort ye;” so beautiful!
Oh, sing it me again!’

Sing at the cottage bedside;
They have no music there,
And the voice of praise is silent
After the voice of prayer.
Sing of the gentle Saviour
In the simplest hymns you know,
And the pain-dimmed eye will brighten
As the soothing verses flow.
Better than loudest plaudits
The murmured thanks of such,
For the King will stoop to crown them
With His gracious ‘Inasmuch.’

Sing, when the full-toned organ
Resounds through aisle and nave,
And the choral praise ascendeth
In concord sweet and grave.
Sing, where the village voices
Fall harshly on your ear;
And while more earnestly you join,
Less discord you will hear.
The noblest and the humblest
Alike are ‘common praise,’
And not for human ear alone
The psalm and hymn we raise.

Sing in the deepening twilight,
When the shadow of eve is nigh,
And her purple and golden pinions
Fold o’er the western sky.
Sing in the silver silence,
While the first moonbeams fall;
So shall your power be greater
Over the hearts of all.
Sing till you hear them with you
Into a holy calm,
And the sacred tones have scattered
Manna, and myrrh, and balm.

Sing!  that your song may gladden;
Sing like the happy rills,
Leaping in sparkling blessing
Fresh from the breezy hills.
Sing!  that your song may silence
The folly and the just,
And the ‘idle word’ be banished
As an unwelcome guest.
Sing!  that our song may echo
After the strain is past,
A link of the love-wrought cable
That holds some vessel fast.

Sing to the tired and anxious
It is yours to fling a ray,
Passing indeed, but cheering,
Across the rugged way.
Sing to God’s holy servants,
Weary with loving toil,
Spent with their faithful labour
On oft ungrateful soil.
The chalice of your music
All reverently bear,
For with the bless`ed angels,
Such ministry you share.

When you long to bear the Message
Home to some troubled breast,
Then sing with loving fervour,
‘Come unto Him, and rest.’
Or would you whisper comfort,
Where words bring no relief,
Sing how, ‘He was despis`ed,
Acquainted with our grief.’
And, aided by His blessing,
The song may win its way
Where speech had no admittance,
And change the night to day.

Sing, when His mighty mercies
And marvellous love you feel,
And the deep joy of gratitude
Springs freshly as you kneel;
When words, like morning starlight,
Melt powerless,–rise and sing!
And bring your sweetest music
To Him, your gracious King.
Pour out your song before Him
To whom our best is due;
Remember, He who hears your prayer
Will hear your praises too.

Sing on in grateful gladness!
Rejoice in this good thing
Which the Lord thy God hath given thee,
The happy power to sing,
But yield to Him, the Sovereign,
To whom all gifts belong,
In fullest consecration,
Your Ministry of Song,
Until His mercy grant you
That resurrection voice,
Whose only ministry shall be,
To praise Him and rejoice.

–Frances Ridley Havergal from THE POETICAL WORKS

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