And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Our Lord commemorated the Passover as His countrymen were wont to do; and we may justly conclude that He sung what they were used to sing in finishing the solemn celebration. When the Passover was instituted on the night of the destruction of the firstborn of the Egyptians, various forms and practices were enjoined (Exodus 12.). But in after times, especially in those of our Saviour, when traditions came to their height, numerous circumstances were added to the celebration, so that the original rites formed but a small part of what were practised by the Jews. And learned men have well observed that Christ commemorated the Passover without rejecting such customs as could not distinctly plead the authority of the law. For instance, the Jews altered the posture in which it was eaten. Also wine came to be taken as well as unleavened bread. In like manner, with regard to the singing of a hymn or psalm, there is nothing said of this in Exodus. Yet the hundred and thirteenth and five following psalms were selected.
I. We observe that our Lord, by conforming to certain customs of the Jews in the eating of the Passover, GAVE HIS SANCTION TO CEREMONIES WHICH MAY NOT BE ABLE TO PLEAD A DIVINE INSTITUTION. We venture to take our Lord's conduct with regard to the ceremonies at the Passover as establishing the authority of the Church to ordain and alter ceremonies and rites, and as strongly condemning those who would make mere ceremonies the excuse for disunion. Our Lord conformed to customs and alterations for which no Divine warrant could be produced, and against which specious objections could have been advanced. We agree, therefore, that the Church is not bound to chapter and verse for any ceremony she may enjoin. The apostles might have said, "What an unnatural moment for singing joyous hymns," as they grew sorrowful at the Lord's departure. But they kept to the ordinances of the Church.
II. We may perhaps say THAT IT WAS WITH THE SINGING OF A HYMN THAT CHRIST PREPARED HIMSELF FOR HIS UNKNOWN AGONY. They were joyous hymns in which they joined. Was it a strange preparation for the Mount of Olives thus to commemorate the mercies and ,chant the praises of God? We should join praise with prayer and recount God's mercies when face to face with new trials. For many, like the captives in Babylon, hang their harps upon the willows, when they find themselves in a strange land; whereas, if they would sing "One of the songs of Zion" it would remind of home and encourage them to expect deliverance. Paul and Silas sang in the prison. We may fairly say that the power of singing has not been sufficiently considered as one of the Creator's gifts to His creatures, and therefore intended to be used for His glory. Singing, like music, has been too much given up by the Church to the world.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.