Music is the key component of worship in the American Christian church. The portion of time appropriated for music is equal to or sometimes greater than the time for the sermon. Music is emotional, traditional, spiritual and commanded of us. Jesus sang hymns with his disciples. Those who would be “late arrivers” to the church service to avoid the music may be missing a key connection to God.
Music is referenced in different forms in over 1150 verses in the Bible. They include psalms, harp, timbrel, lyre voice, hymn, and more.[i] It is one of the most often referenced subjects in the scriptures. A good deal of the Bible is written as poetry and song. Music is intimately woven into creation. A steady drop of rain on a tin roof, the whistle of the wind, and the solid rush of a waterfall are among infinite examples of the rhythm of God’s creation. It is no mystery that music is an integral part of our lives and the church.
The instruments of the Old Testament were used in various ways. Some were a call to battle, while others calmed the flocks at night. The enjoyment of music has no economic boundaries. From the fine-tuned lyre played before Kings to a lowly carved flute in a shepherd’s hand, music displays the soul of man.
The use of music for celebration is referenced in 2 Samuel 6:5. “David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums, and cymbals.” The women sang songs to David when he returned triumphant after facing the Philistine, “the women sang and danced... with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. (I Samuel 18:6-10 NKJV) The angels heralded the birth of Christ to the shepherds as they “sang praises to God”. (Luke 2:13)
As is common today, the use of music was found in weddings and funerals in the Bible. Job 30:31 reads, “my harp is turned to mourning, and my flute to the voice of those who weep.”(NKJV) What is it about music that weaves its way into so much of our souls? How do we employ it for God’s use?
We sing hymns in obedience to God. Colossians 3:16 relates how we are to sing hymns and spiritual songs. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”. The singing of God’s word is a command, not an option. Perhaps because music reaches deeper than the spoken word. Singing and playing music can transfer joy and encouragement to others, making it a powerful teaching tool of the gospel. After the last Passover supper, Jesus sang hymns with the disciples (Matthew 26:30).
Modern congregational worship music should be theologically sound. It should have breadth so that it reaches into the various parts of life. Prayerfully coordinated for praise, thanksgiving, confession, and dedication, songs can include traditional hymns, tunes for children as well as contemporary worship music. The selection should always encourage corporate worship.[ii] Above all, the goal is to bring glory to God.
Sing and play instruments until “he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call”. (Matthew 24:31
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