In complete public worship, there should be united public praise. That this was the custom among the first Christians is evident from Paul’s words to the Ephesians and Colossians, in which he commanded the use of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5.19; Colossians 3.16). That it was a custom so widely prevalent as to be a mark of the earliest Christians is simply a matter of history. Pliny records that, when they met, they “used to sing a hymn to Christ as God.” No one, indeed, can read the Old Testament and not discover the extremely prominent place which praise occupied in the temple service. What man in his senses can doubt that the “service of song” was meant to be highly esteemed under the New Testament? Praise has been truly called the flower of all devotion. It is the only part of our worship which will never die. Preaching and praying and reading shall, one day, be no longer needed. But praise shall go on forever. A congregation which takes no part in praise or leaves it all to be done by deputy through a choir can be hardly thought in a satisfactory state.
From: Worship: Its Priority, Principles, and Practice by J. C. Ryle (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2005), p. 21. This booklet is excerpted from Ryle’s Knots Untied (1877).