The Voice in Speech and Song

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Chapter 35—Clarity and Purity of Utterance

A Fitness for Speaking—By earnest prayer and diligent effort we are to obtain a fitness for speaking. This fitness includes uttering every syllable clearly, placing the force and emphasis where it belongs. Speak slowly. Many speak rapidly, hurrying one word after another so fast that the effect of what they say is lost. Into what you say put the spirit and life of Christ.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 254, 255. VSS 181.1

Cultivation of the Voice—He who has bestowed upon us all the gifts that enable us to be workers together with God, expects His servants to cultivate their voices so that they can speak and sing in a way that all can understand.—Testimonies for the Church 9:144. VSS 181.2

A Mouthpiece for God—The man who accepts the position of being mouthpiece for God should consider it highly essential that he present the truth with all the grace and intelligence he can, that the truth may lose nothing in his presentation of it to the people. Those who consider it a little thing to speak with an imperfect utterance dishonor God.—Evangelism, 665. VSS 181.3

Overcome Indistinct Speech—In reading or in recitation the pronunciation should be clear. A nasal tone or an ungainly attitude should be at once corrected. Any lack of distinctness should be marked as defective. Many have allowed themselves to form the habit of speaking in a thick, indistinct way, as if their tongue were too large for their mouth. This habit has greatly hindered their usefulness. VSS 182.1

If those who have defects in their manner of utterance will submit to criticism and correction, they may overcome these defects. They should perseveringly practice speaking in a low, distinct tone, exercising the abdominal muscles in deep breathing, and making the throat the channel of communication. Many speak in a rapid way and in a high, unnatural key. Such a practice will injure the throat and lungs. As a result of continual abuse, the weak, inflamed organs will become diseased, and consumption may result.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 239. VSS 182.2

Soft, Persuasive Tones—Be pure in speech. Cultivate a soft and persuasive, not a harsh and dictatorial, tone of voice. Give the children lessons in voice culture. Train their habits of speech, until no coarse or rough words will come spontaneously from their lips when any trial comes to them.—The Adventist Home, 435. VSS 182.3

Controlled Volume—They [ministers] should speak with reverence. Some destroy the solemn impression they may have made upon the people, by raising their voices to a very high pitch and halloowing and screaming out the truth. When presented in this manner, truth loses much of its sweetness, its force and solemnity. But if the voice is toned right, if it has solemnity, and is so modulated as to be even pathetic, it will produce a much better impression. VSS 182.4

This was the tone in which Christ taught His disciples. He impressed them with solemnity; He spoke in a pathetic manner. But this loud halloowing—what does it do? It does not give the people any more exalted views of the truth, and does not impress them any more deeply. It only causes a disagreeable sensation to the hearers, and wears out the vocal organs of the speaker. The tones of the voice have much to do in affecting the hearts of those that hear.—Testimonies for the Church 2:615. VSS 183.1

Spiritless Speech—We have been pained as we have attended conference meetings, tract society meetings, and meetings of various kinds, where reports were read in an almost inaudible voice or in a hesitating manner or a muffled tone. One half the interest in a meeting is killed when the participants do their part in an indifferent, spiritless fashion. They should learn to speak in such a way that they can edify those who listen. Let everyone connected with missionary work qualify himself to speak in a clear, attractive way, enunciating his words perfectly.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 246, 247. VSS 183.2

Home Instruction in Voice Culture—Instruction in vocal culture should be given in the home. Parents should teach their children to speak so plainly that the listeners can understand every word. They should teach them to read the Bible with clear, distinct utterance in a way that will honor God. And let not those who kneel around the family altar put their faces in their hands close down to the chair when they address God. Let them lift up their heads and with holy awe speak to their heavenly Father, uttering their words in tones that can be heard. VSS 183.3

Parents, train yourselves to speak in a way that will be a blessing to your children. Women need to be educated in this respect. Even the busy mothers, if they will, can cultivate the talent of speech and can teach their children to read and speak correctly. They can do this while they go about their work. It is never too late for us to improve. God calls upon parents to bring all the perfection possible into the home circle.—Testimonies for the Church 6:381, 382. VSS 184.1

Musical Voices—Those who open the oracles of God to the people should improve in their manner of communicating the truth, that it may be presented to the world in an acceptable way. Place proper emphasis upon the words that should be made impressive. Speak slowly. Let the voice be as musical as possible. VSS 184.2

God desires His ministers to seek for perfection, that they may be vessels unto honor. They are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit; and when they speak, they are to show an energy proportionate to the importance of the subject they are presenting. They are to show that the power about which they speak has made a change in their lives. When they are truly united with Christ, they will give the heavenly invitation with an earnestness that will impress hearts. As they manifest zeal in proclaiming the gospel message, a corresponding earnestness will be produced in the hearers, and lasting impressions for good will be made.—The Review and Herald, January 14, 1902. VSS 184.3

Truth as Manna From Heaven—The truth should be spoken clearly, slowly, forcibly, that it may impress the hearer. When the truth in any line is presented it is essential for it to be understood, that all its precious food, the bread of life, the manna from heaven, may be received.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 257. VSS 185.1

Destruction of Body Organs—Many who might be useful men are using up their vital force and destroying their lungs and vocal organs by their manner of speaking. Some ministers have acquired a habit of hurriedly rattling off what they have to say, as though they had a lesson to repeat, and were hastening through it as fast as possible. This is not the best manner of speaking. By using proper care, every minister can educate himself to speak distinctly and impressively, not to hurriedly crowd the words together without taking time to breathe. He should speak in a moderate manner, that the people may get the ideas fixed in their minds as he passes along. But when the matter is rushed through so rapidly, the people cannot get the points in their minds, and they do not have time to receive the impression that it is important for them to have; nor is there time for the truth to affect them as it otherwise would.—Testimonies for the Church 2:615, 616. VSS 185.2

Danger of Excitable Speech—When some attempt to speak calmly, without excitement and excessive gesticulation, they become embarrassed, and feel a lack of freedom, because they are restraining themselves from following their old habits. But let all such feelings, which are mere excitement, go to the four winds. That freedom of feeling that would result in your committing suicide is not sanctified.—The Review and Herald, February 5, 1880. VSS 186.1

Passion of Delivery No Evidence of God's Power—The voice should be cultivated so as to promote its musical quality, that it may fall pleasantly upon the ear and impress the heart.... VSS 186.2

The Lord requires the human agent not to move by impulse in speaking, but to move calmly, speak slowly, and let the Holy Spirit give efficiency to the truth. Never think that in working yourselves up to a passion of delivery, speaking by impulse, and suffering your feelings to raise your voice to an unnaturally high key, that you are giving evidence of the great power of God upon you.... VSS 186.3

Your influence is to be far reaching, and your powers of speech should be under the control of reason. When you strain the organs of speech, the modulations of the voice are lost. The tendency to rapid speaking should be decidedly overcome. God claims of the human instrumentality all the service that man can give.—Evangelism, 668. VSS 186.4

Proper Expression in Oral Reading—The science of reading correctly and with the proper emphasis, is of highest value. No matter how much knowledge you may have acquired in other lines, if you have neglected to cultivate your voice and manner of speech so that you can speak and read distinctly and intelligently, all your learning will be of but little profit; for without voice culture you cannot communicate readily and clearly that which you have learned. VSS 187.1

To learn to tell convincingly and impressively that which one knows, is of special value to those who desire to become workers in the cause of God. The more expression you can put into words of truth, the more effective these words will be on those who hear. A proper presentation of the Lord's truth is worthy of our highest efforts. Let the students in training for the Master's service make determined efforts to learn to speak correctly and forcibly, in order that when conversing with others in regard to the truth, or when engaged in public ministry, they may properly present the truths of heavenly origin.—Evangelism, 666. VSS 187.2

Distinctness in Every Word—When you speak, let every word be full and well-rounded, every sentence clear and distinct to the very last word. Many as they approach the end of a sentence lower the tone of the voice, speaking so indistinctly that the force of the thought is destroyed. Words that are worth speaking at all are worth speaking in a clear, distinct voice, with emphasis and expression.—Testimonies for the Church 6:383. VSS 187.3

Angel Voices in Union With Human Voices—Let the voices of the followers of Christ be so trained that instead of crowding words together in a thick, indistinct way, their utterance may be clear, forcible, and edifying. Do not let the voice fall after each word, but keep it up so that each sentence will be full and complete. Will it not be worth disciplining yourself, if by so doing you are able to add interest to the service of God and to edify His children? The voice of thanksgiving, praise, and rejoicing is heard in heaven. The voices of the angels in heaven unite with the voices of the children of God on earth as they ascribe honor and glory and praise to God and to the Lamb for the great salvation provided.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 246. VSS 188.1

Uncomely Gestures, Uncouth Speech—The workman for God should make earnest efforts to become a representative of Christ, discarding all uncomely gestures and uncouth speech. He should endeavor to use correct language. There is a large class who are careless in the way they speak, yet by careful, painstaking attention these may become representatives of the truth. Every day they should make advancement. They should not detract from their usefulness and influence by cherishing defects of manner, tone, or language. Common, cheap expressions should be replaced by sound, pure words. By constant watchfulness and earnest discipline the Christian youth may keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. VSS 188.2

We should be careful not to give an incorrect pronunciation of our words. There are men among us who in theory know better than to use incorrect language, yet who in practice make frequent mistakes.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 238. VSS 189.1

The Spirit's Help in Distinctness of Speech—The teacher of truth is to take heed how he presents the truth. He is to speak every word plainly and distinctly, with that earnest conviction which carries conviction to hearts. If the words spoken are crowded upon each other, the impression that should be made is lost. The talent of speech needs to be cultivated, that the truth be spoken not excitedly, but slowly and distinctly, that not a syllable may be lost. Rapidity of speech can and should be corrected. VSS 189.2

If the words of truth are of sufficient importance to be spoken before an audience, they are of sufficient importance to be spoken distinctly. The guidance of the Spirit never leads to indistinctness of speech. The Spirit takes the things of God and presents them through the human instrument to the people. Then let them come from our lips in the most perfect manner possible.—The Southern Work, October 27, 1903. VSS 189.3

Our Words a Channel for the Communication of Truth—We should receive the education essential in the line of conversation that we may know how to speak right words and how to speak in a proper tone, that our words may be a power for good. The truth is no truth to us unless it is brought into the inner courts of the soul. When this is done, our words are a channel through which truth is communicated to others. Sow the seed beside all waters, not knowing which shall prosper, either this or that. But be constantly educating yourself in how to use properly the faculty of speech. As you speak to others, lift your heart to God, praying that He will prepare their hearts to receive the heavenly seed. No man or woman can be that which they might be as laborers together with God in propagating the seed of truth without making earnest, painstaking effort in voice and word culture.—Manuscript 74, 1897. VSS 189.4