Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Thinking of worship through examining Jesus' singing of the hymn before His Passion.

“When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” [1]

Jesus was a singer; on four occasions Scripture informs us that Jesus sang. I cannot help but wonder what songs Jesus sang. Perhaps my training in the sciences compels me to ask such questions; nevertheless, I wonder what sort of songs Jesus sang. What were the words of the songs Jesus sang? Would we recognise any of the melodies known to the Master? That Jesus sang is evident from Scripture; and since He sang, what are the implications for our own worship that He was a singer? The questions may be more pertinent to contemporary worship than we might imagine.

Twice in the Gospels, Jesus is recorded as singing. Our text mirrors what is written in MATTHEW 26:30—those gathered at the Last Supper sang a hymn as the final act of worship that evening. Jesus and His disciples had concluded the Pascal Meal and Jesus had instituted a new Meal which was to be kept until the day He would return. The two brief accounts are identical.

The writer of the Letter to Hebrew Christians cites a Messianic Psalm when referring to Jesus. The passage reads, “It was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying,

‘I will tell of your name to my brothers;

in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.’”

[HEBREWS 2:10-12]

Jesus was a singer. According to this citation, we may anticipate hearing His voice singing in the midst of the saints assembled in glory as He leads us in praise. We who are redeemed look forward to hearing His melodious voice singing praise to the Father. Will we join Him? I rather suspect that will be the case for us who are redeemed.

The third instance in which Jesus is revealed to have been a singer is found in Paul’s Letter to Roman Christians. Again, the Apostle quotes a line from a Psalm of Thanksgiving. He writes, “I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,

and sing to your name.’”

[ROMANS 15:8, 9]

Jesus was a singer. He promises to sing praise among the Gentiles. Does He do this now through His Body, which is the assembly of the faithful? Again, it would be reasonable to understand that the churches of our Lord sing with His voice as God is praised.

Since the Lord’s Supper grew out of the Pascal Meal, the hymns of praise Jesus and His disciples lifted up to God were most probably the final Hallel Psalms, PSALMS 115 through 118. These Psalms are normally sung as the fourth and final cup was being filled. These are songs of praise, thanksgiving and rich expressions of trust. As such, these particular Psalms constituted a fitting conclusion to the observance. Also, they would be a fitting preparation for the Passion the Master was soon to endure. Among the words that would have been sung are these:

“The LORD is my strength and my song;

he has become my salvation.

Glad songs of salvation

are in the tents of the righteous:

‘The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,

the right hand of the LORD exalts,

the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!’

“I shall not die, but I shall live,

and recount the deeds of the LORD.”

[PSALM 118:14-17]

How those words must have comforted the Saviour as He faced the cross.

Again, the final Hallel Psalm contains these meaningful words:

“Open to me the gates of righteousness,

that I may enter through them

and give thanks to the LORD.

This is the gate of the LORD;

the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me

and have become my salvation.

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

This is the LORD’s doing;

it is marvelous in our eyes.”

[PSALM 118:19-23]

In years that followed, after the resurrection, I can only imagine that the Apostles recalled the Psalms Jesus sang; and each time they heard that Hallel or sang the words of the Psalms, gratitude, praise and wonder filled their heart. For surely, the stone that was rejected had become the cornerstone. Indeed, this divine grace is marvellous in our eyes. So, what songs did Jesus sing? What would we have heard had we been present in that dark hour?

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