Biographical Blessings: Spurgeon’s Singing
After taking the Summer off, Letter to the Saints is hot off the press and
Mark and I (along with some appearances from Brian and Karson) are going to
give some “Biographical Blessings.” We both happen to be enjoying biographies
of pastors from earlier days, and we want you to benefit just like we have! I’m
300 pages deep into volume 1 of C.H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, The Early Years
(Banner of Truth, 1897–1900).
Friends, there is so much I’d love to share with you over the next few Letter
to the Saints. Charles Spurgeon was a Baptist pastor in London for many a few
decades during the 19th century. He was the “Prince of Preachers,” started a
pastor’s college, founded an orphanage, and amidst opposition, he opposed the
practice of slavery. His grandfather was a preacher, his father was a pastor, but
let me begin with Spurgeon’s grandmother.
The Songs in Spurgeon’s Heart
Growing up, Spurgeon’s grandparents loved Dr. Isaac Watt’s hymns.
Spurgeon’s grandmother even bribed Spurgeon to learn them by offering him a
penny each if he could memorize them perfectly. Guess what? The money
motivated. Spurgeon found it so easy and enjoyable to memorize those hymns,
that his grandmother had to cut the reward in half—twice!
As Spurgeon recounts the story in his autobiography he says, “No matter
on what topic I am preaching, I can even now, in the middle of any sermon, quote
some verse of a hymn in harmony with the subject; the hymns have remained
with me…” (The Early Years, 26). As a child, Spurgeon’s heart was filled with the
songs of a saint. As an adult, they found their way out into letters to friends,
prayers for his family, and sermons to his church.
Sing the Songs of the Saints
As I read this a few weeks ago, I first thought of my own children. Our three-year-old, Holden, began singing the Doxology with us before we were aware she
even knew the words. Our one-year-old son, Shepherd, gives a hearty “Amen!” as
we respond to each prayer together as a church. Children are impressionable by
God’s design, but so are we.
Last Christmas we handed out copies of our Covenant Hope Hymnbook.
Did you know we sing a few of Dr. Isaac Watts’s hymns too? Check out the five
- “How Sweet and Awesome”
- “Jesus Shall Reign”
- “Joy to the World”
- “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”
- “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”
Friends, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we followed the tradition of Spurgeon
and hid these hymns in our hearts? Hymns have a powerful way of reminding us
of God’s truth. As our mouths open and our lungs expand, the truth of God
pierces our hearts as it leaves our lips. Parents, you could start with your children.
Singles, you could recite it with a friend!
Write the Songs of the Saints
We also need more hymn writers in our day to remind us of God’s truth
once again. Perhaps we have an Isaac Watts hiding in our midst? There’s only
one way to find out. Who is willing to write some hymns for the glory of God and
the good of the church? It may be that God uses your efforts far into the future,
to generations you will only meet in eternity.