While reading an article by John Piper lately, I came across this quote by William Law that expresses the merit of song for the believer:
"Just as singing is a natural effect of joy in the heart so it has also a natural power of rendering the heart joyful . . . There is nothing that so clears a way for your prayers, nothing that so disperses dullness of heart, nothing that so purifies the soul from poor and little passions, nothing that so opens heaven, or carries your heart so near it, as these songs of praise.
They create a sense and delight in God, they awaken holy desires, they teach you how to ask, and they prevail with God to give. They kindle a holy flame, they turn your heart into an altar, your prayers into incense, and carry them as a sweet-smelling savor to the throne of grace."
Wow! I wish I knew more hymns by heart than the ones I can count on one hand. If you haven't done so in the past, I'd encourage you to crack open a hymnal or search different sites on the Internet and do some reading, singing, or memorizing of your own. I'm sure there are lots of sites out there - a couple that I came across just doing a quick search include Hymn History and Cyber Hymnal. (You can listen to the melodies at Cyber Hymnal so you know how it's sung.) Sometimes as part of my devotions or before bed I pick a hymn I don't know and just sing it to my own made-up tune. Try it - it's a great way to settle your heart in worship towards God.
What are some of your favorite hymns?