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THE ASAPH MUSIC LETTER
ENCOURAGING BELIEVERS TO SET AND MAINTAIN A BIBLICAL MUSIC STANDARD
To the chief musician and his choir
Vol. 3--No. 1--October 31, 2003
(Go easy on your eyes. Print this letter for a more enjoyable read.)
SONGS OF JOHN R. RICE--It was going to be a long trip to Texas. I had pretty much loaded the minivan with product to sell at a four-day convention in Texas, making sure that I had accessible to me in the front seat a copy of the six-audio-tape album Songs of John R. Rice, ready to play.
When I first began listening to these tapes a couple years prior to this trip, I began with Tape 1 and memorized most of the songs in succession through Tape 4, before getting sidetracked, and never getting back to begin learning in earnest Tapes 5 and 6. Perhaps before this trip was over, I would have the whole album memorized.
As I headed south early in the morning, not much time was wasted before I popped in the first tape, Tape 1, as I decided to warm up with the familiar songs on the first four tapes...and that's when it happened.
A sense of revival overcame my heart as I drove and listened and sang along. You know, once again, I never made it to the final two tapes. Bible doctrine absolutely permeates every song in this album; and after forty songs full of expressing the truths of God's love, care, blessing, Heaven, Word, hope, salvation and many other things, I had enough to ponder until I returned to Tennessee a few days later.
That was more than nine years ago. I still have not memorized the last two tapes, but I hope to someday. At this point, though, I want to make certain I offer this album and accompanying printed music to you, so that you too can enjoy them. True, these songs are not like the music to which most are accustomed to listening. These songs teach, preach, exhort and cheer like no others.
Dr. John R. Rice was most recognized for founding the Sword of the Lord, America's foremost revival publication, and for his voluminous titles on the Christian life. He may be least remembered for his songs, and that's a shame.
Please do yourself a favor and avail yourself of this great work of songs, the Songs of John R. Rice audio tape album, a total of sixty songs on six tapes( http://www.asaphmusic.com/description.asp?Item=STL-CA-764-0 ), and Songs of John R. Rice, sixty printed songs in a spiral binder bound in the same order as the songs on the tapes.
You'll be glad you did.
DR. JOHN R. RICE ON MUSIC--Here is an interesting article on music by Dr. John R. Rice. After reading this and listening to his songs, you'll discover why his songs have such an impact for righteousness upon the hearers and singers of them.
"Be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." -- Eph.5:18,19.
Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., said in my hearing, "Everything beautiful really belongs to God. The only beautiful music the Devil has, he stole."
The essentials of music are of divine origin as clearly as the essentials of chemistry and physics. The seven notes of the scale, with the first one repeated to make the octave, are a perfect thing which man did not create but which he discovered, just as man did not invent the law of gravity or the multiplication table.
Music goes with Holy Spirit anointing. The nearer man comes to God, the sweeter should be his music. And the Scriptures tell us that to be filled with the Spirit puts music in the heart. And part of the proper expression of the fullness of the Spirit is for one to speak to himself "in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (vs. 19). Every Spirit-filled Christian has music in the soul.
Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs are the natural result of every great spiritual revival. Once three kings--Jehoshaphat of Judah, with the kings of Israel and Edom--went to the prophet Elisha to inquire of the Lord through him.
Elisha said, "Now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him" (II Kings 3:15). He commanded the king to make the valley full of ditches and promised that God would fill them with water for the thirsting armies, and it came to pass. Elisha found the will of God better when he heard sweet music.
Music has an affinity for the Spirit-filled heart. When Saul was anointed king and met a company of prophets playing with psaltery and tabret and pipe and harp, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him (I Sam. 10:5-10). Later when King Saul was troubled with the evil spirit and downcast, the boy David was brought before him to play beautifully upon the harp, and the evil spirit departed and Saul was well (I Sam. 16:14-23).
Oh, there is power in Spirit-filled music to bless the heart and bring people to noble decisions and to faith and joy. You see, the fullness of the Spirit goes with gospel songs. The right kind of singing tends toward the attitude of heart in which the Spirit can come upon His people in power. And the fullness of the Spirit encourages the best in sweet music.
Spiritual music helps in holy decisions. Years ago I preached in a revival campaign in a town forty miles southwest of Fort Worth, Texas. B. B. McKinney, long the music editor for the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board, blessed and anointed songwriter, led the singing for the services. He and I were guests in the same home.
But in the midst of the revival, when great crowds attended and many were being saved, I was stricken with tonsillitis. When my fever mounted and my throat grew more sore and it seemed impossible to preach, I prayed much and was able to preach that night. But the next day when my fever rose high again and my inflamed throat made it seem impossible for me to go on with the revival services, Brother McKinney, the pastor and I prayed together. Then I said to my beloved brother, "Brother Mac, if you will sing for me, I'll trust the Lord, and I believe He will give me faith to get well. Sing Paul Rader's chorus, 'Only Believe.'"
McKinney sang it sweetly and with the blessing of God upon it. "Sing it again!" I said. Again he sang, "Only believe; only believe. All things are possible; only believe. Only believe; only believe. All things are possible; only believe." My heart reached out in faith for God. I said to Brother Mac, "Sing it again, please!" And he sang it again. Over and over in our room together that good man of God sang the chorus and I prayed.
After some long time the Spirit of God gave me assurance that our prayer was heard. Sure enough, before the day was gone, my fever was gone also. I went to the pulpit, preached with ease and with great power that night, and many were saved. And, thank God, I was not hindered more during that campaign by my tonsillitis.
This is only an illustration that God's Holy Spirit has an affinity for sweet music and that we ought to use this holy means of grace and blessing to stir hearts, to help people trust in Christ, to help Christians lay all on the altar.
It is this divinely given principle that leads us to have an invitation song when we urge sinners to step out and claim Christ as Saviour. Millions have found Christ as they sang some of these blessed invitations like, "I will arise and go to Jesus; He will embrace me in His arms. In the arms of my dear Saviour, Oh, there are ten thousand charms." Or, Just as I am, without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!" Others have come to Christ as they sang "Almost Persuaded" or "I Am Resolved No Longer to Linger" or "If You Are Tired of the Load of Your Sin, Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart." Singing in the Spirit, with the moving of the Spirit of God upon hearts, helps in an invitation.
How careful we ought to be that the singing in all of our services pleases God. The idea of hiring worldly, even unconverted people to sing God's praises in the public services is abhorrent to the spiritual mind.
Special music is good, provided the singers are filled with the Holy Spirit. In the public song service there ought to be a constant stress that one cannot properly sing praises to Christ who does not love Him with all the heart and who does not have the Spirit of God singing in the heart.
It is as much a work of the Holy Spirit to help people sing as it is to help preachers preach or to help the personal soul winner deal with a sinner.
Many times in a night of prayer I have found it wise to start a little song or a chorus which has a pleading note of prayer. Sometimes people can pray all the better when the words of the prayer have music. Whether it is "Out of My Bondage, Sorrow and Night, Jesus, I Come; Jesus, I Come" or "Have Thine Own Way, Lord; Have Thine Own Way" or "Where He Leads Me I Will Follow" or the chorus, "Spirit of the Living God, Fall Fresh on Me," we ought to let the Holy Spirit use music in all of our churches to bring people to decision, to faith, to surrender--both the saints of God who need some forward step in the Christian life, some victory, some help; and the lost sinners who need to come to Christ for salvation.
Great gospel music comes from great revivals. It is a striking thing that nearly all the great gospel music was written in times of great revival.
Think of the Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts hymns which we connect with the Wesleyan revivals. Think of the music of Ira D. Sankey, P. P. Bliss and others collected in the books used in the great Moody revivals and still much used in England and Canada. Remember the Torrey-Alexander revivals and the great music that came out of those revivals. Remember the Charles H. Gabriel and B. D. Ackley songs and all the others collected by Rodeheaver and Hall-Mack, which grew out of the Billy Sunday campaigns.
It is time again for us to pray that God will anoint songwriters. It is time for great soul-winning preachers to give their attention to the writing of poems for gospel songs. There is great need for Spirit-filled song leaders, men as dedicated, as unselfish, as full of faith and zeal for souls as the evangelists.
In times of declension and when there are no great revivals, some people write songs and choruses. But these are not great revival songs. They are devotional songs with praise for Jesus, but they do not demand decision. Songs like "The Great Judgment Morning," "Ye Must Be Born Again," "I Surrender All" and "Where He Leads Me I Will Follow" come from Spirit-filled songwriters with the revival burden, the soul-winning passion.
We need songs that stir people to win souls, songs that call people to consecration, songs that plead with sinners to turn from sin and warn sinners of the dangers of delay and of judgment.
When we have that kind of revival preaching in the mighty power of God, we will surely have that kind of song written and sung. And as such songs are sung by Spirit-filled people, the revival will spread.