VOICE INSTRUCTION FROM GOD
I have words of caution to give you, which I am repeating to you in the night season. I was saying this: “I have a message for you from the Lord. Cultivate your vocal organs. This is your privilege and duty. The voice is a most precious treasure. You often speak too hurriedly. Words are crowded too quickly upon words, and your utterance lacks the clear distinctness that it should have.” Speaking to large congregations as you do, it is your duty to give your vocal organs all the relief possible. When speaking, take deep, full inspirations of air. Use the muscles of the abdomen, and thus put upon them the burden you are now placing upon the throat and lungs.
The Lord would not have you injure your vocal organs by a long, continuous strain. Your words will be much more forcible if you give your lungs more air and speak fewer words. When you are speaking, you need to give time to taking full, deep inspirations. Bring the muscles of the abdomen into action. Stand straight, breathe deep, and speak your words with as much force as you please.
I was taught this lesson when my throat and lungs were so much affected that I could not breathe without suffering. No human friend gave me any hint of what to do in order to improve, but the great Medical Missionary, whom I love and obey, told me what to do. The directions given me, I give you. The importance of voice culture was impressed upon me, and ever since I have tried to impress this upon others. Let our ministers speak slowly, taking in full inspirations of air, and there will be a melody in their voices that is now heard in the voices of but few, because it is hard to change wrong habits for right ones.
God would have His workers treat their vocal organs with special care, as a precious gift from Him. These organs are not to be abused by overtaxation. Let great care be shown in their use. Then the discourses given will be more impressive, and those who speak will be enabled to do more work for the Master. There are men who have gone down to the grave because they did not take pains to be in harmony with nature’s laws in their use of the vocal organs.
The Lord would have His messengers guard sacredly their health and strength. They are not to sacrifice their God-given organs by misusing them. One organ is not to be overstrained, made to bear a burden of abuse that will bring disease and cut short the usefulness of the workers.
The Lord would have you improve in speech by placing the burden where it belongs, upon the muscles of the chest and abdomen. The throat is only the channel for the words. Speak slowly and breathe deeply. This will enable you to throw out your words with distinctness and volume, while the throat and lungs, instead of being injured, will be strengthened to resist consumptive tendencies.
It is your privilege to take lessons in voice culture, if possible. Voice culture is a study that should find a place in every institution for the education of the youth. Especially is this study essential for those who are preparing themselves to labor as teachers or ministers. In every study the importance of speaking slowly and distinctly, and of placing the burden upon the muscles of the abdomen, should be made prominent. This line of work should be made a specialty in every school. The students should be taught to stand straight, to breathe deeply, and to give the proper emphasis to important words and sentences. . . .
Think of these suggestions. Give them due attention, for the preservation of your life demands this. The human agent is to do all in his power to preserve his health and strength. The minister of the gospel should give the organs of speech special care, giving the throat every advantage, so that it shall not become irritated. He must take time to rest. Then his vocal organs will not be so overworked that they will become diseased beyond remedy.
I must urge you to exercise discretion. You talk hurriedly, and the throat and lungs become wearied and irritated. Elder D was a man of great ability. I did my best to persuade him to be careful of his health, but he would not follow my advice. He said that he could not enjoy freedom in speaking if he kept the rules which he knew to be essential to the health of his vocal organs. The force of habit was so strong that he did not change. When he was dying, he sent for my husband and me to come and pray for him. While we were with him, he said, “Oh, Sister White, I need not now be dying had I heeded the warnings that you gave me.”
NOISE AND HURRY NO EVIDENCE OF GOD’S PRESENCE
Some ministers have fallen into the error that they cannot have liberty in speaking unless they raise their voices to a high pitch and talk loud and fast. Such should understand that noise and loud, hurried speaking are not evidence of the presence of the power of God. It is not the power of the voice that makes the lasting impression. Ministers should be Bible students, and should thoroughly furnish themselves with the reasons of our faith and hope, and then, with full control of the voice and feelings, they should present these in such a manner that the people can calmly weigh them and decide upon the evidences given. And as ministers feel the force of the arguments which they present in the form of solemn, testing truth, they will have zeal and earnestness according to knowledge.
This article is excerpted from the book The Voice in Speech and Song, pp 260-264, by Ellen G. White.