Angels are hovering around yonder dwelling. The young are there assembled; there is the sound of vocal and instrumental music. Christians are gathered there, but what is that you hear? It is a song, a frivolous ditty, fit for the dance hall. Behold, the pure angels gather their light closer around them, and darkness envelops those in that dwelling. The angels are moving from the scene. Sadness is upon their countenances. Behold, they are weeping. This I saw repeated a number of times all through the ranks of Sabbath keepers, and especially in _____. Music has occupied the hours which should have been devoted to prayer. Music is the idol which many professed Sabbath-keeping Christians worship. Satan has no objection to music, if he can make that a channel through which to gain access to the minds of the youth. Anything will suit his purpose that will divert the mind from God, and engage the time which should be devoted to His service. He works through the means which will exert the strongest influence to hold the largest numbers in a pleasing infatuation, while they are paralyzed by his power. When turned to good account, music is a blessing, but it is often made one of Satan’s most attractive agencies to ensnare souls. When abused, it leads the unconsecrated to pride, vanity, and folly. When allowed to take the place of devotion and prayer, it is a terrible curse. Young persons assemble to sing and, although professed Christians, frequently dishonor God and their faith by their frivolous conversation and their choice of music. Sacred music is not congenial to their taste. I was directed to the plain teachings of God’s word, which had been passed by unnoticed. In the judgment all these words of inspiration will condemn those who have not heeded them.–“Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. 1, p. 506.
Music is of heavenly origin. There is great power in music. It was music from the angelic throng that thrilled the hearts of the shepherds on Bethlehem’s plains and swept round the world. It is in music that our praises rise to Him who is the embodiment of purity and harmony. It is with music and songs of victory that the redeemed shall finally enter upon the immortal reward.
Music can be a great power for good; yet we do not make the most of this branch of worship. The singing is generally done from impulse or to meet special cases, and at other times those who sing are left to blunder along, and the music loses its proper effect upon the minds of those present. Music should have beauty, pathos, and power. Let the voices be lifted in songs of praise and devotion. Call to your aid, if practicable, instrumental music, and let the glorious harmony ascend to God, an acceptable offering.
SD 179 (AH 407 after ||)
I feel alarmed as I witness everywhere the frivolity of young men and young women who profess to believe the truth. . . . They have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind, so that Christ is not desired. . . . Solemn responsibilities rest upon the young, which they lightly regard. The introduction of music into their homes, instead of inciting to holiness and spirituality, has been the means of diverting their minds from the truth. Frivolous songs and the popular sheet music of the day seem congenial to their taste. The instruments of music have taken time which should have been devoted to prayer. Music, when not abused, is a great blessing; but when put to a wrong use, it is a terrible curse. || It excites, but does not impart that strength and courage which the Christian can find only at the throne of grace while humbly making known his wants and, with strong cries and tears, pleading for heavenly strength to be fortified against the powerful temptations of the evil one. Satan is leading the young captive. Oh, what can I say to lead them to break his power of infatuation! He is a skillful charmer luring them on to perdition.
Great improvement can be made in singing. Some think that the louder they sing the more music they make; but noise is not music. Good singing is like the music of the birds–subdued and melodious.
The history of the songs of the Bible is full of suggestion as to the uses and benefits of music and song. Music is often perverted to serve purposes of evil, and it thus becomes one of the most alluring agencies of temptation. But, rightly employed, it is a precious gift of God, designed to uplift the thoughts to high and noble themes, to inspire and elevate the soul.
Brother U has a good knowledge of music, but his education in music was of a character to suit the stage rather than the solemn worship of God. Singing is just as much the worship of God in a religious meeting as speaking, and any oddity or peculiarity cultivated attracts the attention of the people and destroys the serious, solemn impression which should be the result of sacred music. Anything strange and eccentric in singing detracts from the seriousness and sacredness of religious service.
It is impossible to estimate too largely the work that the Lord will accomplish through His proposed vessels in carrying out His mind and purpose. The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.
The superfluities which have been brought into the worship in _____ must be strenuously avoided. . . . Music is acceptable to God only when the heart is sanctified and made soft and holy by its facilities. But many who delight in music know nothing of making melody in their hearts to the Lord. Their heart is gone “after their idols.”
On one occasion, when the armies of Israel were to go up to battle, the Lord commanded that they take with them singers and instruments of music. They went into the battle singing the high praises of God. When their enemies heard this music, the Lord caused fear to fill their hearts, and they fled. We need to have more music and less groaning. May God help us to put faith into our work, remembering that if trial comes, it will be because we need it.
Item 2. [Requested by A. L. White for use in answering questions on Ellen G. White’s attitude toward secular music.]
For about an hour the fog did not lift and the sun did not penetrate it. Then the musicians, who were to leave the boat at this place, entertained the impatient passengers with music, well selected and well rendered. It did not jar upon the senses as the previous evening, but was soft and really grateful to the senses because it was musical.–Letter 6b, 1893. (Regarding the landing in New Zealand in Feb., 1893.)
The first lessons are of great importance. It is customary to send very young children to school. They are required to study from books things that tax their young minds, and often they are taught music. Frequently the parents have but limited means, and an expense is incurred which they can ill afford, but everything must be made to bend to this artificial line of education. This course is not wise. A nervous child should not be overtaxed in any direction and should not learn music until he is physically well developed.
I have been shown the order, the perfect order, of heaven, and have been enraptured as I listened to the perfect music there. After coming out of vision, the singing here has sounded very harsh and discordant. I have seen companies of angels, who stood in a hollow square, every one having a harp of gold. . . . There is one angel who always leads, who first touches the harp and strikes the note, then all join in the rich, perfect music of heaven. It cannot be described. It is melody, heavenly, divine, while from every countenance beams the image of Jesus, shining with glory unspeakable.
In their efforts to reach the people, the Lord’s messengers are not to follow the ways of the world. In the meetings that are held, they are not to depend on worldly singers and theatrical display to awaken an interest. How can those who have no interest in the Word of God, who have never read His Word with a sincere desire to understand its truths, be expected to sing with the spirit and the understanding? How can their hearts be in harmony with the words of sacred song? How can the heavenly choir join in music that is only a form?
Music was made to serve a holy purpose, to lift the thoughts to that which is pure, noble, and elevating, and to awaken in the soul devotion and gratitude to God. What a contrast between the ancient custom and the uses to which music is now too often devoted! How many employ this gift to exalt self, instead of using it to glorify God! A love for music leads the unwary to unite with world-lovers in pleasure-gatherings where God has forbidden His children to go. Thus that which is a great blessing when rightly used, becomes one of the most successful agencies by which Satan allures the mind from duty and from the contemplation of eternal things.–PP 594.
I feel alarmed as I witness everywhere the frivolity of young men and young women who profess to believe the truth. God does not seem to be in their thoughts. Their minds are filled with nonsense. Their conversation is only empty, vain talk. They have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind so that Christ is not desired. The spiritual longings of the soul for divine knowledge, for a growth in grace, are wanting.
LDE 86; EV 496
As the children of Israel journeying through the wilderness cheered their way by the music of sacred song, so God bids His children today gladden their pilgrim life. There are few means more effective for fixing His words in the memory than repeating them in song. And such song has wonderful power. It has power to subdue rude and uncultivated natures, power to quicken thought and to awaken sympathy, to promote harmony of action, and to banish the gloom and foreboding that destroy courage and weaken effort. ||
It is one of the most effective means of impressing the heart with spiritual truth. How often to the soul hard-pressed and ready to despair, memory recalls some word of God’s–the long forgotten burden of a childhood song–and temptations lose their power, life takes on new meaning and new purpose, and courage and gladness are imparted to other souls!–Education, pp. 167, 168. (1903)
Yet no one took the interest in her case that we did. I even spoke to the large congregation before we went East last fall, of their neglect of Sister More. I spoke of the duty of giving honor to whom it is due; it appeared to me that wisdom had so far departed from the prudent that they were not capable of appreciating moral worth. I told that church that there were many among them who could find time to meet, and sing, and play their instruments of music; they could give their money to the artist to multiply their likenesses, or could spend it to attend public amusements; but they had nothing to give to a worn-out missionary who had heartily embraced the present truth and had come to live with those of like precious faith. I advised them to stop and consider what we were doing, and proposed that they shut up their instruments of music for three months and take time to humble themselves before God in self-examination, repentance, and prayer until they learned the claims which the Lord had upon them as His professed children. My soul was stirred with a sense of the wrong that had been done Jesus, in the person of Sister More, and I talked personally with several about it.
Music has been a snare to you. You are troubled with self-esteem; it is natural for you to have exalted ideas of your own ability. Teaching music has been an injury to you. Many women have confided their family difficulties to you. This has also been an injury to you. It has exalted you and led you to still greater self-esteem.
Music forms a part of God’s worship in the courts above. We should endeavor in our songs of praise to approach as nearly as possible to the harmony of the heavenly choirs. I have often been pained to hear untrained voices, pitched to the highest key, literally shrieking the sacred words of some hymn of praise. How inappropriate those sharp, rasping voices for the solemn, joyous worship of God. I long to stop my ears, or flee from the place, and I rejoice when the painful exercise is ended.–Ev 507, 508.
Singing should not be allowed to divert the mind from the hours of devotion. If one must be neglected, let it be the singing. It is one of the great temptations of the present age to carry the practice of music to extremes, to make a great deal more of music than of prayer. Many souls have been ruined here. When the Spirit of God is arousing the conscience and convicting of sin, Satan suggests a singing exercise or a singing school, which, being conducted in a light and trifling manner, results in banishing seriousness, and quenching all desire for the Spirit of God. Thus the door of the heart, which was about to be opened to Jesus, is closed and barricaded with pride and stubbornness, in many cases never again to be opened.
The chief subjects of study in these schools [of the prophets] were the law of God, with the instruction given to Moses, sacred history, sacred music, and poetry. . . . Sanctified intellect brought forth from the treasure house of God things new and old, and the Spirit of God was manifested in prophecy and sacred song.–Ed 47.
Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 190
Mr. Johanneson was training his children in singing, and we enjoyed the music of their little voices blending together in sacred songs. If parents generally would give more time to the education and training of their children, having really a home school for them, their families would be far happier. Children who are gifted with the talent or love of music may receive impressions that will be lifelong by a judicious use of these susceptibilities as the medium for religious instruction. Less time should be spent in the ornamentation of clothing, and far more attention should be given to making the character lovely. It is the inward adorning that will endure; the influences which give direction to these young lives will be far-reaching as eternity.
The proper training of the voice should be regarded as an important part of education. The singer should train himself to utter every word distinctly. It should be remembered that singing as a part of religious service is as much an act of worship as is the prayer. The heart must feel the spirit of the words, to give them right expression. Parents should not employ to instruct their children, a teacher of music who has no reverence for sacred things, nor should they allow them to learn and practice dance songs and frivolous music.
This day I thank the Lord He has given me strength to bear my message under the large tent one mile from the sanitarium. The seats were all occupied. There was singing accompanied with music, and the music was distinct in sound and made a good impression upon the people. Then I spoke one hour and the Lord strengthened me, for which I praise His holy name. I presented the first chapter of First Peter, and the people listened with much interest.
A view of one such company was presented to me, where were assembled those who profess to believe the truth. One was seated at the instrument of music, and such songs were poured forth as made the watching angels weep. There was mirth, there was coarse laughter, there was abundance of enthusiasm and a kind of inspiration; but the joy was such as Satan only is able to create. This is an enthusiasm and infatuation of which all who love God will be ashamed. It prepares the participants for unholy thought and action. I have reason to think that some who were engaged in that scene heartily repented of the shameful performance.
Many of the amusements popular in the world today, even with those who claim to be Christians, tend to the same end as did those of the heathen. There are indeed few among them that Satan does not turn to account in destroying souls. Through the drama he has worked for ages to excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card table, Satan employs to break down the barriers of principle and open the door to sensual indulgence. In every gathering for pleasure where pride is fostered or appetite indulged, where one is led to forget God and lose sight of eternal interests, there Satan is binding his chains about the soul.
Let none suppose that they can live a life of selfishness, and then, having served their own interests, enter into the joy of their Lord. In the joy of unselfish love they could not participate. They would not be fitted for the heavenly courts. They could not appreciate the pure atmosphere of love that pervades heaven. The voices of the angels and the music of their harps would not satisfy them. To their minds the science of heaven would be as an enigma.
David’s skillful playing upon the harp soothed the troubled spirit of Saul. As he listened to the enchanting strains of music, it had an influence to dispel the gloom which settled upon him, and to bring his excited mind into a more rational, happy state.
The Sabbath calls our thoughts to nature, and brings us into communion with the Creator. In the song of the bird, the sighing of the trees, and the music of the sea, we still may hear His voice who talked with Adam in Eden in the cool of the day. And as we behold His power in nature we find comfort, for the word that created all things is that which speaks life to the soul. He “who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. 4:6.
Those who make singing a part of divine worship should select hymns with music appropriate to the occasion, not funeral notes, but cheerful, yet solemn melodies. The voice can and should be modulated, softened, and subdued.
The Faith I Live By, 273
With the voice of singing He welcomed the morning light. He listened to the lark caroling forth music to its God, and joined His voice with the voice of praise and thanksgiving.
The art of sacred melody was diligently cultivated. No frivolous waltz was heard, nor flippant song that should extol man and divert the attention from God; but sacred, solemn psalms of praise to the Creator, exalting His name and recounting His wondrous works. Thus music was made to serve a holy purpose, to lift the thoughts to that which was pure and noble and elevating, and to awaken in the soul devotion and gratitude to God.
Many Protestants suppose that the Catholic religion is unattractive and that its worship is a dull, meaningless round of ceremony. Here they mistake. While Romanism is based upon deception, it is not a coarse and clumsy imposture. The religious service of the Roman Church is a most impressive ceremonial. Its gorgeous display and solemn rites fascinate the senses of the people and silence the voice of reason and of conscience. The eye is charmed. Magnificent churches, imposing processions, golden altars, jeweled shrines, choice paintings, and exquisite sculpture appeal to the love of beauty. The ear also is captivated. The music is unsurpassed. The rich notes of the deep-toned organ, blending with the melody of many voices as it swells through the lofty domes and pillared aisles of her grand cathedrals, cannot fail to impress the mind with awe and reverence.
A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit’s working. . . . Those things which have been in the past will be in the future. Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted.–2SM 36, 38 (1900).
The soul may ascend nearer heaven on the wings of praise. God is worshiped with song and music in the courts above, and as we express our gratitude, we are approximating to the worship of the heavenly hosts. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth” God. Let us with reverent joy come before our Creator, with “thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”
Nature’s gladness awakened joy in the hearts of Israel and gratitude to the Giver of all good. The grand Hebrew psalms were chanted, exalting the glory and majesty of Jehovah. At the sound of the signal trumpet, with the music of cymbals, the chorus of thanksgiving arose, swelled by hundreds of voices:
“I was glad when they said unto me,
Let us go unto the house of the Lord.
Our feet are standing
Within thy gates, O Jerusalem. . . .
Whither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, . . .
To give thanks unto the name of Jehovah. . . .
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
They shall prosper that love thee.” Psalm 122:1-6, R.V.
Again the long train was in motion, and the music of harp and cornet, trumpet and cymbal, floated heavenward, blended with the melody of many voices. “And David danced before the Lord,” in his gladness keeping time to the measure of the song.
The Holy Spirit has nothing to do with such a confusion of noise and multitude of sounds as passed before me last January. Satan works amid the din and confusion of such music, which, properly conducted, would be a praise and glory to God. He makes its effect like the poison sting of the serpent.
Those things which have been in the past will be in the future. Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted. God calls upon His people, who have the light before them in the Word and in the Testimonies, to read and consider, and to take heed. Clear and definite instruction has been given in order that all may understand. But the itching desire to originate something new results in strange doctrines, and largely destroys the influence of those who would be a power for good if they held firm the beginning of their confidence in the truth the Lord had given them.
The very same may be said of singing. You assume undignified attitudes. You put in all the power and volume of the voice you can. You drown the finer strains and notes of voices more musical than your own. This bodily exercise and the harsh, loud voice makes no melody to those who hear on earth and those who listen in heaven. This singing is defective and not acceptable to God as perfect, softened, sweet strains of music. There are no such exhibitions among the angels as I have sometimes seen in our meetings. Such harsh notes and gesticulations are not exhibited among the angel choir. Their singing does not grate upon the ear. It is soft and melodious and comes without this great effort I have witnessed. It is not forced and strained, requiring physical exercise.
Your voice has been heard in church so loud, so harsh, accompanied or set off with your gesticulations not the most graceful, that the softer and more silvery strains, more like angel music, could not be heard. You have sung more to men than to God. As your voice has been elevated in loud strains above all the congregation, you have been thoughtful of the admiration you were exciting. You have really had such high ideas of your singing, that you have had some thoughts that you should be remunerated for the exercise of this gift.
The dignity and pride of king Saul’s daughter were shocked that king David should lay aside his garments of royalty, and his royal scepter, and be clothed with the simple linen garments worn by the priests. She thought that he was greatly dishonoring himself before the people of Israel. But God honored David in the sight of all Israel by letting his Spirit abide upon him. David humbled himself, but God exalted him. He sung in an inspired manner, playing upon the harp, producing the most enchanting music. He felt, in a small degree, that holy joy that all the saints will experience at the voice of God when their captivity is turned, and God makes a covenant of peace with all who have kept his commandments.
The false enchantment of the dizzy scene seemed to take away reason and dignity from Herod and his guests, who were flushed with wine. The music and wine and dancing had removed the fear and reverence of God from them. Nothing seemed sacred to Herod’s perverted senses. He was desirous to make some display which would exalt him still higher before the great men of his kingdom. And he rashly promised, and confirmed his promise with an oath, to give the daughter of Herodias whatever she might ask.
I was taken into some of your singing exercises, and was made to read the feelings that existed in the company, you being the prominent one. There were petty jealousies, envy, evil surmisings, and evil speaking. . . . The heart service is what God requires; the forms and lip service are as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Your singing is for display, not to praise God with the spirit and understanding. The state of the heart reveals the quality of the religion of the professor of godliness.–Ev 507.
The service of song was made a regular part of religious worship, and David composed psalms, not only for the use of the priests in the sanctuary service, but also to be sung by the people in their journeys to the national altar at the annual feasts. The influence thus exerted was far-reaching, and it resulted in freeing the nation from idolatry. Many of the surrounding peoples, beholding the prosperity of Israel, were led to think favorably of Israel’s God, who had done such great things for His people.–PP 711.
Special Testimonies on Education, 211
The low, common, pleasure parties, gatherings for eating and drinking, singing and playing on instruments of music, are inspired by a spirit that is from beneath. They are an oblation unto Satan. The exhibitions in the bicycle craze are an offense to God. His wrath is kindled against those that do such things. For in these gratifications the mind becomes besotted, even as in liquor-drinking. The door is opened to vulgar associations. The thoughts, allowed to run in a low channel, soon pervert all the powers of the being. Like Israel of old, the pleasure-lovers eat and drink, and rise up to play. There is mirth and carousing, hilarity and glee. In all this the youth follow the example of the authors of books that are placed in their hands for study. The greatest evil of it all is the permanent effect these things have upon the character.
Angels have hushed the music of their harps as they have looked upon a people unable, because of their past slavery, to help themselves. And yet those in whose hands God has placed the torch of truth, kindled from the divine altar, have not realized that to them is given the work of carrying the light to this sin-darkened field. There are those who have turned away from the work of rescuing the downtrodden and degraded, refusing to help the helpless. Let the servants of Christ begin at once to redeem their neglect, that the dark stain on their record may be wiped out.
General Conference Daily, 1-28-93
The matter of purchasing a pipe organ for the tabernacle at Battle Creek was placed before me by Brother Barnes and others; I told them that as God had presented before me the necessities of the missionary work, the great need of sending men and means to carry the truth into new fields, I could not for a moment give the least encouragement to this piece of extravagance. Those who have felt so great a desire for this extra indulgence in our church at Battle Creek have a lethargy upon them that paralyzes their senses and blinds them to the real poverty in our missionary fields. My heart is sick and sad and sore. Pride and selfish gratification on the part of churches and individuals is keeping the word of God from thousands who might sing the songs of Zion; many harps that have been hung upon the willows might be taken down and made to give forth sweet music, if every one would have a true missionary spirit to work in love, as Christ worked, to save the lost.
General Conference Daily, 3-2-99
In our efforts to reach the people, there is danger of adopting methods that will not produce the best results. Plans may be followed which seem to excite much interest for the time; but the effect proves that the work is not abiding. The use of the gospel wagon may accomplish some good; but in most cases the after-results will be disappointing. People will be attracted by the music, and will listen to the addresses and appeals that are made. But the workers pass rapidly from place to place, and there is not time for persons to become established in the faith. The impressions made are soon effaced. Little seed has been sown that springs up and bears fruit. When the season is ended, there will be few sheaves to be gathered. Experience will show that the results are not proportionate to the expenditure. The work is too much like that of carrying a torch through a district in the night. The places where the torch-bearer goes are light; but not many tapers are kindled from his torch, and when he has gone his way, the darkness is almost as great as before.
As I was pleading with a young man to turn to the Saviour, he said: “I am not ready. This band of music would be broken up should I leave it. I am needed in this circle of society. And besides, I want my liberty.” But he did not know of what he was talking. There is no liberty save that which has been brought to us by Christ. We can find in sin nothing but slavery. What was Adam after he had disobeyed?–A captive to sin, his dark future illuminated only by the promise of the Saviour to come.
All our powers are for use. They are not to be wasted, but trained for the glory of God. We are to do Him service. In every season of worship we are to cultivate the voice, overcoming all harshness and strange accent. We advise every student in our school who has an ear for music to make the most of his opportunity for learning how to improve the voice. The Lord expects everyone to do his best.
I am afraid as a people we should not carry out our principles as well. After we had eaten, Mr. Clark, a great musician, sang and played upon an instrument of music, cabinet organ. His song was very amusing, but enough of this.
Women are not to be satisfied to be toys to be played with as a toy, and caressed and flattered, to be light and trifling, to laugh and gossip and play on an instrument of music.
The character of Saul is a marked one. There was strength and weakness combined. Gifts of talent were bestowed upon him, and had he consecrated these gifts wholly to God, he would not have dishonored himself by his own transgression. Contradictory elements were bound up in his character, and he worked at cross purposes with God. At times he revealed marked simplicity, and then was guilty of manifesting a jealous and overbearing spirit. He would be very tender and full of sympathy toward some who pleased him, as the notion came upon him, and then would be unjust and cruel toward his best friends. When brought under the influence of sacred and vocal music, he would catch the spirit of devotion, and pour forth the most impassioned expressions of lofty eloquence, in ecstasies of praise and prayer. While under this excitement, he would give himself no rest day nor night until the reaction came. Then his strength failed, and he was exhausted. When the paroxysm of wild excitement and inordinate zeal had spent itself, he would reveal his old disposition. When his will was crossed, he was in a fury, and his words and deeds were of a character entirely dishonoring to himself, and more dishonoring to God. Good and evil were ever in collision, evil ever striving for the supremacy.
Ellen G. White in Europe, 1885-1887, p. 103
The Scandinavian children seem remarkably quiet and well trained. Wherever we went, they came forward, one by one, and shook hands with us, the girls making a courtesy, and the boys a low bow. Sister Johanneson’s four children, from the girl of eight down to the three-year-old boy, welcomed us in this manner when we came; and whenever they met us, morning, noon, or evening, the greeting was repeated. At another place where we visited, even the little girl of two and a half years went through the ceremony with credit.
Mr. Johanneson was training his children in singing, and we enjoyed the music of their little voices blending together in sacred songs.
Ellen G. White vol. 2, The Progessive Years 1862-1876, p. 60
When soldiers were in training on the old fairground, . . . Henry went to watch them and, boylike, was marching along with them, whistling in harmony with the fife. The captain gave the signal to the fifers to be silent, and the company of soldiers made their one-mile march keeping step to music of the drum and Henry’s whistle.
Ellen G. White vol. 3, The Lonely Years 1876-1891, p. 384
One summer evening, while Ellen White was making a short visit to the Health Retreat, she spoke at the prayer meeting. She selected a certain hymn that fitted her subject. The hymn was announced. The congregation stood and in the warm evening began to sing listlessly. The music dragged monotonously. Then Ellen White held up her hand. “Stop!” she ordered. “Stop!”
I have heard the angels sing. They do not sing as you are singing tonight. They sing with reverence, with meaning. Their hearts are in their expressions of song. Now, let us try again and see if we can put our hearts into the singing of this song.
Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years, vol. 5, 1900-1905, p. 102
Haskell went on to describe the confusion and perplexity that were resulting from this preaching. One of the features of their teachings, along with holy flesh and translation faith, was that of “moral purity,” for which they seemed to carry a great burden. It was all “a mixture of truth and error, with much excitement and music.”
Ellen G. White: vol. 6, The Later Elmshaven Years, 1905-1915, p. 195
Her second Sabbath sermon, “A Risen Saviour,” was unique in that she opened her Bible and read not just a verse or two as an introduction to her message but three long chapters from the book of Matthew and fifty verses of a fourth, interspersing her reading with an occasional comment. It is said that she read “in a most solemn and impressive manner.” At one point (not soon forgotten by her hearers) in her reading of how Pilate’s wife sent word of her warning dream, as recorded in Matthew 27:19, she stepped aside, and a male quartet from England came to the pulpit and sang “Dream of Pilate’s Wife.” She had earlier called Elder J. S. Washburn, the leader of the group, to sing this selection at the appropriate time in her sermon. In that visit she told him that it had been included in Hymns and Tunes at her request (see No. 1394) (MS 29, 1909).
This demonstrated Ellen White’s skillful and effective use of music to enhance her presentations. In fact, she very often chose the hymns that were to be used in connection with her sermons.
On Sabbath we had a song service. Brother Lawrence, who is a musician, led the singing. All the passengers in the car seemed to enjoy the service greatly, many of them joining in the singing. On Monday we had more singing, and we all seemed to be drawing close together.—Letter 135, 1905.
Evangelism [Selected paragraphes from “Song Evangelism.” Page numbers are in brackets.]
 The melody of song, poured forth from many hearts in clear, distinct utterance, is one of God’s instrumentalities in the work of saving souls. . . .
These words [song of Moses] were repeated unto all Israel, and formed a song which was often sung, poured forth in exalted strains of melody. This was the wisdom of Moses to present the truth to them in song, that in strains of melody they should become familiar with them, and be impressed upon the minds of the whole nation, young and old. It was important for the children to learn the song; for this would speak to them, to warn, to restrain, to reprove, and encourage. It was a continual sermon.
 One night I seemed to be in a council meeting where these matters were being talked over. And a very grave, dignified man said, “You are praying for the Lord to raise up men and women of talent to give themselves to the work. You have talent in your midst which needs to be recognized.” Several wise propositions were made and then words were spoken in substance as I write them. He said, “I call your attention to the singing talent which should be cultivated; for the human voice in singing is one of God’s entrusted talents to be employed to His glory. The enemy of righteousness makes a great account of this talent in his service. And that which is the gift of God, to be a blessing to souls, is perverted, misapplied, and serves the purpose of Satan. This talent of voice is a blessing if consecrated to the Lord to serve His cause. _____ has talent, but it is not appreciated. Her position should be considered and her talent will attract the people, and they will hear the message of truth.
 When Christ was a child like these children here, He was tempted to sin, but He did not yield to temptation. As He grew older He was tempted, but the songs His mother had taught Him to sing came into His mind, and He would lift His voice in praise. And before His companions were aware of it, they would be singing with Him. God wants us to use every facility which Heaven has provided for resisting the enemy.
 Often He expressed the gladness of His heart by singing psalms and heavenly songs. Often the dwellers in Nazareth heard His voice raised in praise and thanksgiving to God. He held communion with heaven in song; and as His companions complained of weariness from labor, they were cheered by the sweet melody from His lips. His praise seemed to banish the evil angels, and, like incense, fill the place with fragrance. The minds of His hearers were carried away from their earthly exile, to the heavenly home.
Let praise and thanksgiving be expressed in song. When tempted, instead of giving utterance to our feelings, let us by faith lift up a song of thanksgiving to God.
Song is a weapon that we can always use against discouragement. As we thus open the heart to the sunlight of the Saviour’s presence, we shall have health and His blessing.
Evening and morning join with your children in God’s worship, reading His Word and singing His praise. Teach them to repeat God’s law. Concerning the commandments, the Israelites were instructed: “Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Accordingly, Moses  directed the Israelites to set the words of the law to music. While the older children played on instruments, the younger ones marched, singing in concert the song of God’s commandments. In later years they retained in their minds the words of the law which they learned during childhood.
If it was essential for Moses to embody the commandments in sacred song, so that as they marched in the wilderness, the children could learn to sing the law verse by verse, how essential it is at this time to teach our children God’s Word! Let us come up to the help of the Lord, instructing our children to keep the commandments to the letter. Let us do everything in our power to make music in our homes, that God may come in. . . .
 Song is one of the most effective means of impressing spiritual truth upon the heart. Often by the words of sacred song, the springs of penitence and faith have been unsealed.
Let the talent of singing be brought into the work. The use of musical instruments  is not at all objectionable. There were used in religious services in ancient times. The worshipers praised God upon the harp and cymbal, and music should have its place in our services. It will add to the interest.
The hearts of many in the world as well as many church members are hungering for the bread of life and thirsting for the waters of salvation. They are interested in the service of song, but they are not longing for that or even prayer. They want to know the Scriptures. What saith the Word of God to me? The Holy Spirit is working on mind and heart, drawing them to the bread of life. They see everything round them changing. Human feelings, human ideas of what constitutes religion, change. They come to hear the Word just as it reads.
 The science of salvation is to be the burden of every sermon, the theme of every song. Let it be poured forth in every supplication. . . .
True ministers know the value of the inward working of the Holy Spirit upon human hearts. They are content with simplicity in religious services. Instead of making much of popular singing, they give their principal attention to the study of the Word, and render praise to God from the heart. Above the outward adorning they regard the inward adorning, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. In their mouths is found no guile.
Students, go out into the highways and the hedges. Endeavor to reach the higher as well as the lower classes. Enter the homes of the rich and the poor, and as you have opportunity, ask, “Would you be pleased to have us sing? We should be glad to hold a song service with you.” Then as hearts are softened, the way may open for you to offer a few words of prayer for the blessing of God. Not many will refuse.
Learn to sing the simplest of songs. These will help you in house-to-house labor, and hearts will be touched by the influence of the Holy Spirit. . . . We learn from the Word that there is joy among the angels over one repentant sinner, and that the Lord Himself rejoices over His  church with singing.
In my dreams last night I was speaking to a company of young men. I asked them to sing “Almost Persuaded.” Some present were deeply moved. I knew that they were almost persuaded, but that if they did not make decided efforts to return to Christ, the conviction of their sinfulness would leave them. You made some confessions, and I asked you, “Will you not from this time stand on the Lord’s side?” If you will receive Jesus, He will receive you. . . .
I am glad to hear the musical instruments that you have here. God wants us to have them. He wants us to praise Him with heart and soul and voice,  magnifying His name before the world.
There should be much more interest in voice culture than is now generally manifested. Students who have learned to sing sweet gospel songs with melody and distinctness can do much good as singing evangelists. They will find many opportunities to use the talent that God has given them, carrying melody and sunshine into many lonely places darkened by sin and sorrow and affliction, singing to those who seldom have church privileges.
There is great pathos and music in the human voice, and if the learner will make determined efforts, he will acquire habits of talking and singing that will be to him a power to win souls to Christ.
There are those who have a special gift of song, and there are times when a special message is borne by one singing alone or by several uniting in song. But the singing is seldom to be done by a few. The ability to sing is a talent of influence, which God desires all to cultivate and use to His name’s glory.
No words can properly set forth the deep blessedness of genuine worship. When human beings sing with the Spirit and the understanding, heavenly musicians take up the strain, and join in the song of thanksgiving. He who has bestowed upon us all the gifts that enable us to be workers together with God, expects His servants to cultivate their voices, so that they can speak and sing in a way that all can understand. It is not loud singing that is needed, but clear intonation, correct pronunciation, and distinct utterance. Let all take time to cultivate the voice, so that God’s praise can be sung in clear, soft tones, not with harshness and shrillness that offend the ear. The ability to sing is the gift of God; let it be used to His glory. . . .
But it is sometimes more difficult to discipline the singers and keep them in working order, than to improve the habits of praying and exhorting. Many want to do things after their own style; they object to consultation, and are impatient under leadership. Well-matured plans are needed in the service of God. Common sense is an excellent thing in the worship of the Lord. . . .
 A minister should not give out hymns to be sung until it has first been ascertained that they are familiar to those who sing. A proper person should be appointed to take charge of this exercise, and it should be his duty to see that such hymns are selected as can be sung with the spirit and with the understanding also.
Singing is a part of the worship of God, but in the bungling manner in which it is often conducted, it is no credit to the truth, and no honor to God. There should be system and order in this as well as every other part of the Lord’s work. Organize a company of the best singers, whose voices can lead the congregation, and then let all who will, unite with them. Those who sing should make an effort to sing in harmony; they should devote some time to practice, that they may employ this talent to the glory of God.
The human voice that sings the music of God from a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving is far more pleasing to Him than the melody of all the musical instruments ever invented by human hands. . . .
 I saw that all should sing with the spirit and with the understanding also. God is not pleased with jargon and discord. Right is always more pleasing to Him than wrong. And the nearer the people of God can approach to correct, harmonious singing, the more is He glorified, the church benefited, and unbelievers favorably affected.
Many are singing beautiful songs in the meetings, songs of what they will do, and what they mean to do; but some do not do these things; they do not sing with the spirit and the understanding also. So in the reading of the Word of God, some are not benefited, because they do not take it into their very life, they do not practice it.
 How can God be glorified when you depend for your singing on a worldly choir that sings for money? My brother, when you see these things in a right light, you will have in your meetings only sweet, simple singing, and you will ask the whole congregation to join in the song. What if among those present there are some whose voices are not so musical as the voices of others. When the singing is such that angels can unite with the singers, an impression is made on minds that singing from unsanctified lips cannot make. . . .
In the meetings held the singing should not be neglected. God can be glorified by this part of the service. And when singers offer their services, they should be accepted. But money should not be used to hire singers. Often the singing of simple hymns by the congregation has a charm that is not possessed by the singing of a choir, however skilled it may be.
 Display is not religion nor sanctification. There is nothing more offensive in God’s sight than a display of instrumental music when those taking part are not consecrated, are not making melody in their hearts to the Lord. The offering most sweet and acceptable in God’s sight is a heart made humble by self-denial, by lifting the cross and following Jesus. . . .
In some of our churches I have heard solos that were altogether unsuitable for the service of the Lord’s house. The long-drawn-out notes and the peculiar sounds common in operatic singing are not pleasing to the angels. They delight to hear the simple songs of praise sung in a natural tone. The songs in which every word is uttered clearly, in a musical tone, are the songs that they join us in singing. They take up the refrain that is sung from the heart with the spirit and the understanding.
 In some instances much time was devoted to singing. There was a long hymn before prayer, a long hymn after prayer, and much singing interspersed all through the meeting. Thus golden moments were used unwisely, and not one-half the good was done that might have been realized had these precious seasons been properly managed.