Having This Ministry
A Digital Newsletter from Living Stream Ministry

Principles for Using the Hymns:
Nourishing New Ones with the Hymns

As we noted in a previous article, the hymns in our hymnal are quite versatile and can be used in many fruitful ways in our Christian life and church life. In this article we will consider how the hymns can be used to nourish new ones, particularly in the context of home meetings.

Principles for Using the Hymns: Nourishing New Ones with the Hymns

As Brother Lee’s ministry has helped us to see, visiting new believers in their homes is a crucial step in our organic practice of the God-ordained way. The basic purpose of the home meetings is to nourish the new believers, and the singing of hymns can serve this purpose well. In Rising Up to Preach the Gospel, in a chapter on how to establish and lead a home meeting, Brother Lee says,

To teach the new ones to sing the hymns is the best way to nourish them…After the time we go to someone’s home to baptize him, the next time we meet in his home, we can begin to teach him to sing. After singing only four or five times, he will be infused and nourished by the hymns. He may have children at home. When you sing, they may not sing, but after you leave, they will start singing. By singing a little, the truths in the hymns will gradually enter into them. (The Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1984, vol. 4, p. 416)

As this makes clear, a significant benefit of teaching the new ones to sing the hymns is that the rich truths in these hymns can enter into them, albeit gradually, as a source of long-term sustenance.

Lest we inadvertently neglect the singing of hymns in the home meetings, it is worthwhile to consider how crucial this practice is. In Key Points on the Home Meetings Brother Lee identifies the singing of hymns as “the key to the home meetings” (CWWL, 1985, vol. 4, p. 413). Furthermore, in The Furtherance of the New Way for the Lord’s Recovery he speaks of praying and singing as “two ways necessary for leading the home meetings” (CWWL, 1986, vol. 3, p. 538). Similarly, in Bearing Remaining Fruit he remarks that hymns are “indispensable” in the home meetings (CWWL, 1987, vol. 1, p. 279). This should give us a deep impression of the importance of singing hymns in the home meetings, and we should consider before the Lord how best to use the hymns in our home meetings to nourish the new ones under our care.

In a message given in 1989, Brother Lee offers the following example of how we might use hymn singing as a “spiritual lifeline” to nourish a new believer in his home:

We should not think that if we speak spiritual matters to a new one who was saved only yesterday, he will not understand. Once a person is saved, we need to visit him the following day in order to have a home meeting in his home. Even if the new believer does not understand anything, we still need to find a spiritual lifeline to feed him. For instance, the first item in Christian meetings is hymn singing. Thus, when we visit a new believer, we can bring a recording of a song and play it so that the new one can listen. Whenever we sing hymns, people’s hearts open up. Suppose we sing “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; / Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!” (Hymns, #308) or “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought / Since Jesus came into my heart! / I have light in my soul for which long I had sought, / Since Jesus came into my heart!” (Hymns, #309). When we lead a new believer to sing, his mouth will open, and his open mouth will cause his heart and spirit also to open. After singing a hymn, we can select several lines from the hymn to pray over, and then we can continue to sing. By singing and praying, the new believer’s spirit will come alive. (CWWL, 1989, vol. 1, “The Organic Building Up of the Body of Christ,” p. 166)

By visiting new believers in their homes and leading them to sing hymns, we can help them to open their mouths and hearts to the Lord that they might receive spiritual nourishment.

In our practice of using the hymns in the home meetings, it is important that we learn to use the hymns in a flexible and living way. Brother Lee remarks that “we need to learn to use the hymns in a flexible way and not to sing in a rigid way every time” (CWWL, 1987, vol. 1, “Bearing Remaining Fruit,” p. 279). For example, we might sing only the chorus of a hymn or one stanza rather than the entire hymn. Similarly, in The Exercise and Practice of the God-ordained Way, in a chapter on the home meetings, Brother Lee observes that “whether we pray, call a hymn, open the Scriptures, or ask the new one to speak something, we must do it in a living way, having prepared the atmosphere” (CWWL, 1989, vol. 3, p. 370). He continues by offering the following example:

Whatever we do in all kinds of meetings must be living, stirring, and something that the Spirit can use to inspire and unveil something to people concerning the mystery of God. We should do nothing merely as a religious activity. To help people to be revived or to love the Bible can also be a religious activity, which is common in Christianity. This kind of work is very general. But to read and sing a hymn such as Hymns, #537 concerning Christ being so subjective would impress a new believer in a particular way. To stress that Christ is subjective is something really new to Christians in Christianity. Christ is not only a historical person who is merely objective; rather, the Christ who is our Savior is so subjective. To help a new one with such a particular subject is to care for the home meetings in a living, stirring, and unveiling way, free from any religion. (p. 371)

As we can surely testify, our hymnal is a storehouse with many riches that we can draw upon in the home meetings. By learning to use the hymns in a living and flexible way, we can nourish the new believers under our care and usher them into the experience and enjoyment of Christ.

This article concludes our six-part series in this newsletter on the English hymnal and some principles for its use. We hope that you have enjoyed reading these articles as much as we have enjoyed writing them. We pray that in these days the Lord would heighten our appreciation for the hymnal, encourage us to dig into the hymnal more thoroughly, and direct us in using the hymnal profitably in our Christian life and church life. Hymns is a copyrighted publication of Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, California.

If you are interested in reading any of the previous articles in this series, here are direct links to each of the first five articles: