Hymns

Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Psalm 23; Psalm 103; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:3; Revelation 15:3; Exodus 15:1-19; Deuteronomy 32:1-44; Psalm 22:22,25
These occur in this order: “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:1919Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19); Col. 3:1616Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)). The word “psalms” is the same as the Greek ψαλμοῖς; so the word “hymns,” ὔμνοις; for “spiritual songs” it is ὠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, spiritual odes or songs. There can be no doubt that the Psalm of David had been used by the devout of Israel as songs of praise, and some of these may have been used in the early church, such as Psalm 23; Psalm 103, which in substance have found their way into nearly all modern hymnals.
But the new dispensation required new songs of praise, and some may have been written that retained the name of psalms; others were called hymns, which apply to those compositions which are addressed to the Father or the Son, or directly to God. The word used for “songs” is employed in Revelation 5:99And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9) for the song of the redeemed; and in Revelation 14:33And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3) for the new song; and in Revelation 15:33And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. (Revelation 15:3) for the song of Moses, the sentiments of which are often repeated in the Psalms (compare also Ex. 15:1-191Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. 2The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. 3The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name. 4Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. 5The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. 6Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 7And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. 8And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. 9The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. 10Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. 11Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? 12Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. 13Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. 14The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. 15Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. 16Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. 17Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. 18The Lord shall reign for ever and ever. 19For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. (Exodus 15:1‑19); Deut. 32:1-441Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 2My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: 3Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 4He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. 5They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. 6Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? 7Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will show thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. 8When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. 9For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. 10He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: 12So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. 13He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; 14Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape. 15But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. 16They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. 17They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. 18Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. 19And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. 20And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. 21They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. 22For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. 23I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. 24They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. 25The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs. 26I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men: 27Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this. 28For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. 29O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! 30How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up? 31For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. 32For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter: 33Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. 34Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? 35To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. 36For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. 37And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, 38Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection. 39See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. 40For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. 41If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. 42I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. 43Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people. 44And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun. (Deuteronomy 32:1‑44)).
It will be noticed that the passages in Ephesians and Colossians do not refer to singing in the assembly, and the one in Colossians may be punctuated thus: “in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The Lord sang a hymn with His disciples at the last passover; and we may be sure that there was singing in the assemblies. The heathen Pliny bore testimony that the Christians sang “odes to Christ as God.” Christ is twice represented as praising God, in the midst of His congregations, that is, in the assembly, and in the great congregation of Israel and those associated with them (Psa. 22:22,2522I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. (Psalm 22:22)
25My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. (Psalm 22:25)
). Among hymns generally it is easy to see that some are hymns of praise; others recount what God has done; others speak of what Christ has suffered; others refer to future blessing; and again others are really prayers.