Here are some wise and seasoned words on corporate singing and song selection from William Gadsby and J. C. Philpot. These quotes appear in the dual prefaces to Gadsby’s Hymns: A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship (chosen by William Gadsby), originally published in 1838. With the glut of worship songs being produced today and the idea of “worship leader” growing in visibility, variety, responsibility, and influence, I pray that this kind of rich insight will win the day among God’s gathered people.
“To be employed with solemn pleasure in singing the praises of God with the spirit and with the understanding also, is a blessing peculiar to God’s elect; nor can even they be thus engaged, only as the blessed Spirit influences the mind, and favours them with the unction of his grace. It is one thing to have the ear charmed, and another to have the heart engaged in this most delightful part of God’s worship in his church below.” — William Gadsby
“In a Collection of Hymns for the worship of God, three things seem desirable, if not essentially necessary — savour, variety, and number. Without the first, the sacrifice lacks salt; without the second, the various experiences of the Lord’s people are not met; without the third, constant repetition of the choicest hymns has a tendency to deaden their effect.” — J. C. Philpot
“I have been chiefly guided by two things: first, the savour which I have felt in the hymn itself; secondly, in its meeting the average experience of God’s living family. As in music a tune may be pitched in too high a key for the average of voices, so a hymn may be written in too high a strain of assurance for the average of experiences; and as one would not choose a tune in which only a few voices could join, so one would not select a hymn which would require many to be mute.” — J. C. Philpot
Gadsby’s Hymns: A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship (chosen by William Gadsby) (reprint, Sand Springs, OK: Grace & Truth Books, 2003).