Something beyond song


After our Sunday services this weekend at Grace a number of people commented to me about A.W. Tozer’s essay, “Something beyond song.” Since the weight of Tozer’s words seemed to resonate with so many people, I thought would post them here for you to read and enjoy as well.

“Both the Bible and the testimony of a thousand saints show that there is experience beyond song. There are delights, which the heart may enjoy, in the awesome presence of God that cannot find expression in language; they belong to the unutterable element in Christian experience. Not many enjoy them because not many know that they can. The whole concept of ineffable worship has been lost to this generation of Christians. Our level of life is so low that no one expects to know the deep things of the soul until the Lord returns. So we are content to wait, and while we wait we are wont to cheer our hearts sometimes by breaking into song.

Far be it from us to discourage the art of singing. Creation itself took its rise in a burst of song; Christ rose from the dead and sang among His brethren, and we are promised that they who dwell in dust will rise and sing at the resurrection. The Bible is a musical book and, next to the Scriptures themselves, the best book to own is a good hymnbook. But still there is something beyond song.

Where the Holy Spirit is permitted to exercise His full sway in a redeemed heart the progression is likely to be as follows: First, voluble praise, in prose speech or prayer or witness; then, when the crescendo rises beyond the ability of studied speech to express, comes song; when song breaks down under the weight of glory, then comes silence where the soul, held in deep fascination, feels itself blessed with an unutterable beatitude.

At the risk of being written off as an extremist or a borderline fanatic we offer it as our mature opinion that more spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome presence of God than in years of mere study. While our mental powers are in command there is always the veil of nature between us and the face of God. It is only when our vaunted wisdom has been met and defeated in a breathless encounter with Omniscience that we are permitted really to know, when prostrate and wordless the soul receives divine knowledge like a flash of light on a sensitized plate. The exposure may be brief, but the results are permanent.”[1]

[1] From A.W. Tozer’s The Root of the Righteous, (Camp Hill, PA, Christian Publications: 1955, 1986), 144-146.

One thought on “Something beyond song

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I had not read it before now. Sometimes when words are not enough, I sing or praise God in my heavenly language. Sometimes in the kitchen doing chores I drop to my knees overwhelmed by the awesomeness of our Lord. And yes, there are times when the majesty and presence of Almighty God are too great to utter any word; just lie prostrate before Him in silence.

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