Singing, an ordinance of divine worship, in which we express our joy in God, and gratitude for his mercies. It has always been a branch both of natural and revealed religion in all ages and periods of time. It was a part of the worship of the heathen. It was practiced by the people of God before the giving of the law of Moses (Exodus 15); also under the ceremonial law. Under the Gospel dispensation it is particularly enjoined (Col 3:16; Eph 5:19). It was practiced by Christ and his apostles (Mt 26:30), and in the earliest times of Christianity. The praises of God may be sung privately in the family, but chiefly in the house of God; and should be attended to with reverence, sincerity, joy, gratitude, and with the understanding (1Co 14:15).
From the apostolic age singing was always a part of divine service, in which the whole body of the Church joined together; and it was the decay of this practice that first brought the order of singers into the Church. The Council of Laodicea (canon 15) prohibited singing by the congregation; but this was a temporary provision, designed only to restore and revive the ancient psalmody. We find that in after ages the people enjoyed their ancient privilege of Singing all together.
Among the Anti-Paedobaptists, during the early part of their existence, psalmody was generally excluded as a human ordinance; but some congregations having adopted it about the beginning of the 18th century, a violent controversy was excited. About the middle of the century, however, the praises of God were sung in every Anti-Paedobaptist church.
It was customary, early in the present century, for the precentor in the Church of Scotland to read the psalm line by line as it was sung., When the practice of continuous singing was introduced, it was a source of great and numerous congregational disturbances, and it was popularly stigmatized as an innovation. As to the use of instrumental music as an accompaniment to singing, SEE CHOIR; SEE MUSIC; SEE SINGER.