The Role of Music in Worship
I. Why Should We Sing?
1) Music is evidence of God’s ‘common grace’
- First love song was written in Eden – Genesis 2:23
- Origin of musical instruments – Genesis 4:21
- Jubal was a descendent of Cain – God has granted the gift of music to believers and non-believers alike
- Music is an vital part of every culture on earth
- Music is a means God has provided to express the deepest emotions of the human heart
- Music can be used to express profound joy (wedding) as well as profound sorrow (funeral)
- Music can be used for good purposes and for evil purposes – it is not morally neutral
2) Music reaches it’s highest goal when it is used in the praise and worship of God
- Singing and instrumental accompaniment (string, percussion, wind) were used in the Temple
- Musical worship continued to play a vital role in the Early Church – at least 2 early hymns have been preserved in the New Testament (cf. Philippians 2:6-11, 1 Timothy 3:16)
3) Music is evidence of the Spirit’s ‘filling’ – vv. 18-19
- Spirit ‘Baptism’ vs. Spirit ‘Filling’
- The Filling of the Spirit has a corporate dimension
- Corporate singing in Church is our response to the Spirit’s activity within us and among us
4) Music is a way to instruct one another in the truth (cf. Colossians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 14:26)
– We should not confuse ‘music’ with ‘worship’. At it’s most fundamental level worship has to do with the posture of our hearts toward God, and music is one important way that we can express that attitude.
– In our corporate gatherings God is not only worshipped through music, but also through the preaching of His Word, through our celebration of His Table, through the prayers of His people, and through the way we exercise our gifts and relate to one another in the body.
– The Bible never encourages us to use music as a means to grow the Church, provide entertainment, produce a ‘mood’ in which the Spirit can work, manipulate the emotions, or keep pace with the non-believing culture around us.
II. What Should We Sing?
1) Psalms – inspired hymns of the Old Testament
- Psalm singing was once a staple of Protestant worship, but has largely fallen to the wayside
- It is right for Christians to sing the Word, and particularly to use the inspired hymn book God has already given us
2) Hymns – songs of praise to God
- The earliest Christian hymns focused on the person and work of Jesus Christ. They were a vital way of teaching and transmitting doctrine
- The most enduring Christian hymns have tremendous Biblical and theological depth
3) Spiritual Songs – the precise meaning is uncertain but perhaps Paul is referring to spontaneous expressions of praise and thanksgiving
– The music that we sing in our corporate gatherings should be God-focused, God-centered, and God-exalting. Whether a song is ‘modern’ or ‘traditional’ isn’t the critical issue. Not everything old is gold. Not everything new is true.
III. How Should We Sing?
1) By speaking and singing ‘to one another’
2) By making melody ‘to the Lord’
3) By singing ‘with our heart’
– When gathered together for worship our singing is to be ‘congregational’ and sincere. This implies several things:
- No spectators in the pews; no performers on the stage.
- Volume and atmosphere in the room must allow us to hear and to see one another. On Sunday morning it is ‘us and God together’, not ‘me and God alone’
- Music should be learned and practiced so that our mind, emotions, and body are fully engaged in worship. There is nothing wrong with kneeling or raising your hands
- A song sung out of tune, but with the right heart attitude is still a joyful noise to the Lord!