The Bible gives us the best instruction on singing. In Is 44:23, all creation is designed to sing. See Job 38:7. And so when we sing, we should sing the right songs and we should sing them the right way.
The songs should be sung to the Lord – Ex 15:1, 21 – he is the audience even in Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 – and he ought to receive our praises with enthusiasm – at the Alamo Bowl the crowd was yelling to be heard by the players – but we don’t sing to be heard by the Lord in church or to cheer for him like we do for men.
The songs should talk of his wondrous works – 1 Chr 16:9 – many of the hymns in the hymnbook are written as a testimony to the works of the Lord – we sing praise to him – Ps 9:11 – In the Great Hymns Of The Faith hymnbook, here are some examples of songs that glorify God for his works: 27 I Sing The Mighty Power Of God, 37 How Great Thou Art, 52 Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned
The songs should speak to you – Eph 5:19 – and in speaking to you they should teach you and admonish you, Col 3:16 – one of the ladies at the nursing home said that her husband used to comment that often he got more of a message out of the songs than he did out of the preaching – I’ve had preachers like that – the songs should speak to your spirit and your understanding, 1 Cor 14:15 – so they are not carnal [because they speak to your spirit] and you can understand them [because they are sung so that you can understand the words] – invitation hymns are a perfect example: 49 Our Great Savior, 246 Softly And Tenderly, 251 Almost Persuaded, 409 Hold the Fort
The songs should impart the wisdom of the words of God to you – Col 3:16, that is they ought to be doctrinally sound – here are some hymns that are not doctrinally sound: 16 The Lord Is King! [not right now, Rev 11:15], 22 Ancient Of Days [not right now], 530 Battle Hymn Of The Republic [not till Rev 14], 531 America the Beautiful [not these days]
And here are some that are so doctrinally sound, they preach: 36, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, 44 And Can It Be That I Should Gain? 113 The Old Rugged Cross.