Saturday, October 10, 2020

To sing is to pray twice

“To sing is to pray twice.” This is an old proverb, often attributed to Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430). There seems to be no such quote in the writings of Augustine. However, the idea may have been distilled from his comments on Psalm 72:20 (from either the Greek or Latin).
What is, “there have failed the hymns of David, the son of Jesse”? Hymns are praises of God accompanied with singing: hymns are songs containing the praise of God. If there be praise, and it be not of God, it is no hymn: if there be praise, and God’s praise, and it be not sung, it is no hymn. It must needs then, if it be a hymn, have these three things, both praise, and that of God, and singing. What is then, “there have failed the hymns”? There have failed the praises which are sung unto God. He seemeth to tell of a thing painful, and so to speak deplorable. For he that singeth praise, not only praiseth, but only praiseth with gladness: he that singeth praise, not only singeth, but also loveth him of whom he singeth. In praise, there is the speaking forth of one confessing; in singing, the affection of one loving.
Exposition on Psalm LXXIII, Augustine

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