How Can You Keep From Singing?
It is impossible to read the words of Robert Lowry and be unmoved.
"My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?"
Any believer can relate to the words of this hymn. When someone comes to know the Lord, transformation takes place in the heart, and they no longer see the world from their own eyes but through His eyes. This must have been how Robert Lowry felt as he penned these words. His very life points the reader to the words that came from his heart.
Hall explains in Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers how these very words illustrate a beautiful relationship with music and the Lord from an early age. On page 71, he describes how Lowry tried out any instrument he could get his hands on, taught Sunday school, and joined the choir while still a teenager. After graduation, he immediately entered the ministry. Passion for the Lord led him into pastoral ministry to serve and lead people to love the Lord as he did. Ministry was his first love with music, a close second. Hall details Lowry as "a man of rare administrative ability, a most excellent preacher, a thorough Bible student, and whether in the pulpit or on the platform, always a brilliant and interesting speaker" (72). He later spent time studying music and possessed an impressive musical library. God was an integral part of everything he said and did, whether he was preaching or singing, so it is no wonder he could not keep from singing!
Lowry's music truly came from the heart, as evidenced in this very hymn. Hall tells of a time when a reporter asked him the method and motivation behind the words of his hymns. His answer was simply, "I watch my moods and when anything good strikes me, whether words or music, and no matter where I am, at home or on the street, I jot it down. My brain is sort of a spinning machine, I think, for there is music running through it all the time" (73). If music filled all believers' souls the way it did his, how could anyone keep from singing?
Lowry was a very educated man who loved to study the Bible and music. He studied at the University of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and graduated with the highest honors. He pastored many churches and was even a professor for a short time. After he left the ministry, he devoted himself to the study of music and even attempted to tie music to a mathematical basis. His intelligence contributed to his well-written hymns.
The words of Lowry's hymns give the reader a portal into who he was and perhaps the life of a believer as described in the Bible. Maybe he was able to relate to David in Psalm 27:6 when he said, "Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music..." Or perhaps he felt as Paul felt in Ephesians 5:19, where he urges the believer to fill themselves with "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Whatever the reason Lowry wrote these words, they have certainly impacted generation after generation.
Hall, J.H. Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers. Fleming H. Revell Company.
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I love these little bios and stories. Helps me to see the heart of the person who wrote the hymn and makes me want to sing them all the more.