Singing From The Heart

January 20, 2016
by Richard Frith

1 Samuel 16:23 – And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. (KJV)

I recently retired from the Canadian public service after 35 years. What do I do to fill the hours? Since I play the organ and piano, providing music for the services that our church conducts in seniors' residences and nursing homes was a natural choice. The first thing that I learned is that residents don't want to hear fancy organ and piano solos. They want to hear their favourite hymns from the hymn book. The effect of this music is remarkable. People with dementia who have not spoken for days sometimes sing along. I have seen tears flow as a familiar hymn stirs the heart. It seems that music remains in the mind when other memories have vanished.

David was the king of Israel, a warrior mighty in battle. But he was first of all a musician, and his playing set Saul free from the power of an evil spirit. David's songs — the Psalms — continue to inspire people thousands of years after his kingship. They are his most enduring legacy.

The apostle Paul emphasized the importance of music in a Christian's life when he gave this counsel:

Ephesians 5:18b-19 – 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. (KJV)

Let us continue to sing the good Lord's praises with our voices and in our hearts. Then, when other thoughts and memories have faded, maybe with God's grace, we will still be able to sing these wonderful words penned by Charles Wesley:

    Finish, then, Thy new creation,
    Pure and spotless let us be;
    Let us see Thy great salvation,
    Perfectly restored in Thee;
    Changed from glory into glory,
    Till in heaven we take our place,
    Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
    Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for the gift of music. Grant us grace to sing Your praise with our voices and in our hearts, and to show forth our faith in our lives. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Richard Frith <richard111@hotmail.com>

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    I, too, have seen the same. Thanks for sharing Richard.


    Excellent. Keep up the good work and please write again.


    God Bless you for your wonderful contribution to seniors.


    How true! I had done services with the elderly, too.
    Eyes may be closed but words are mouthed as the music of familiar hymns touches the heart.


    Dear Richard,
    I really enjoy your devotional “Singing From The Heart”.
    Thank you.


    Thank you very much, Richard. That is the Devotional format with which I am familiar. I’m simply a ‘creature’ of habit and most relaxed in a familiar location. Not only that, I enjoy a senior’s perks such as crossing a street at any time at any site upon any whim just to hear the sound of screeching tires coming to an emergency stop.
    Until our paths cross again, you have my sincere gratitude.


    Richard, please forgive the former email message. I was up very early this morning and (prior to reading the Devotional) mistakenly interpreted your name as the Presbycan employee who returned my Devotionals to the Version with which I was familiar. Hopefully something positive came from my mistake, i.e. that demented message may have caused you to chuckle the entire today.


    Good morning Richard,
    Your devotional was truly inspirational! I have been playing the organ since I was 12, and music has always spoken
    to my heart. Even though I went into the ministry and stood behind the pulpit, in my heart I was at the organ praising God!
    God bless you and do enjoy your retirement.
    (B.C.)


    Thank you for today’s devotional. I agree with you that the old familiar hymns really resonate with the folks in Seniors rest homes. Our church does a service at a Seniors Residence each month & it is so touching to see how connected they are to the old hymns & even in advanced stages of dementia they can participate in the singing. Thank you kindly & Lord bless you for your music sharing with the seniors.
    (B.C.)


    To Richard Frith,
    Such a sincere and beautiful devotional. I thank God that he gave us music and such powerful hymns.
    Though I have never had a sense of pitch that makes it possible for me to know whether I am on key or off, I still love the hymns in church. But I try to sing quietly so I won’t put off-key those who do detect subtle differences in pitch.
    Keep writing great devotionals.


    Dear Richard,
    I have just read your devotional out here on the west coast.
    Thank you! Your message struck a chord (pun intended) within my heart. I am a partially retired minister (and was in your city preaching recently) and have been convinced for many years of the importance of music to the spiritual and physical well-being of people. I too have witnessed the light that comes into the eyes of a person with dementia when I would sing a familiar hymn, or quote a psalm of David’s.
    Thank you for this excellent reminder of how God uses music to bless our hearts and souls (and bodies).
    May you be blessed as you continue your ministry of music.


    Dear Richard:
    Amen to your beautiful meditation.
    I’ve always been involved in both secular and sacred music. Like your audiences, I love the old hymns and songs. They give me joy and comfort even when other things cannot.
    I was deeply touched by your thoughts on music as I had a piano teacher who taught a choir of children who couldn’t speak and were otherwise delayed by physical and mental disability. She was able to reach then through music and they consequently surprised and blessed many a listener with their singing.
    I hope you keep playing for those you mention and that you feel blessed by this very important service and gift that you give.


    Thank you Richard,
    You are so right, I lead in services at the local Long Term Care Centre quite often and the residents just love to sing the old hymns. When I lead Worship Services too I so often get the comment that I pick such nice hymns. And being an old person, they are usually old hymns and the congregations, which sadly consists mostly of older people, love there hymns. I quite often notice that some of them are little sermons on their own and the words speak to people’s hearts.
    It is wonderful indeed.
    Blessings.

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