Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Jerome: Our hymns declare the strength and majesty of God. They express gratitude for his benefits and his deeds. Our psalms convey this gratitude also, since the word Alleluia is either prefaced or appended to them. Our psalms properly belong to the domain of ethics, teaching us what is to be done and avoided. The domain of the psalms is the body as an instrument of grace. But the domain of the spiritual canticles is the mind. As we sing spiritual canticles we hear discourses on things above, on the harmony of the world, on the subtly ordered concord of all creatures. These spiritual songs help us express our meaning more plainly for the sake of simple folk. It is more with the mind than with the voice that we sing, offer psalms and praise God.
Sing with Hearts Engaged. Chrysostom: “Making melody to the Lord” means paying attention while you are singing. It means not letting your mind drift. Those who in singing do not offer this deep attention to God are merely mouthing psalms, uttering words, while their hearts are preoccupied elsewhere.
Singing from the Heart. Ambrosiaster: If we are living well, we are always being filled with the Holy Spirit so as to confess and extol the gift of God. The Holy Spirit loves this way of life. This is especially expressed in songs, that praise may be sung to God by every tongue. If the Spirit is dwelling within someone, he is always meditating on the Spirit. It is not only his lips that burst forth but his heart.
Learn to sing psalms, and thou shall see the delightfulness of the employment. For they who sing psalms are filled with the Holy Spirit, as they who sing satanic songs are filled with an unclean spirit.
To Be Filled with the Spirit, Learn to Sing Psalms. Chrysostom: Do you wish to be happy? Do you want to know how to spend the day truly blessed? I offer you a drink that is spiritual. This is not a drink for drunkenness that would cut off even meaningful speech. This does not cause us to babble. It does not disturb our vision. Here it is: Learn to sing psalms! Then you will see pleasure indeed. Those who have learned to sing with the psalms are easily filled with the Holy Spirit. But if you sing only the devil’s songs you will soon find yourself filled with an unclean spirit.