Summary: Do you like good music? Do you know what it is?
As with many issues, there has been much ado about music in the Church and what constitutes good music. Music was an integral part of worship in the Old Testament. In one worship service the singers did such a great job that God’s glory filled the house so strongly that the priests could not even get up to minister. (2 Chron 5) Singers sang God’s praises before a battle and God moved on the enemy and they turned against themselves so that Israel did not have to fight at all. (2 Chron 20) We know that David’s playing soothed Saul when he was being plagued by evil spirits. There will be music and songs in Heaven as well as we have seen in our study in Revelation.
But what kind of music should we sing in the Church today? I make no claim to be a musician or expert on genres, rhythm et cetera. I sing by ear. Some say I would do better if I used my mouth. I have had some basic music training but I don’t really read music. I know about All Cows Eat Grass, Every Good Boy Does Fine and even F A C E but that is equal to recognizing the alphabet but being unable to read a book. I know there are keys but how to hit a C or an A I have no clue. Whatever key or tempo I learned a song in is what I can do. Change it up and I get confused even though I was in Choir in High School and even had a lead role in a musical. I have sung in several Church choirs and will solo from time to time yet I am not a true musician. I was in a drum and bugle marching band but I was in the color guard because I wasn’t coordinated enough to play drums and couldn’t pucker my lips right to play the bugle. There are still situations where my lips won’t pucker but that is by choice and not handicap.
So how in the world can I speak to church music? Well, from Scripture of course. I can do a basic overview of what music is for and why we do it. For advanced theory or specifics, you will have to go elsewhere.
Matt 26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
We know that Jesus and His disciples sang at the Last Supper. We are not told if there were any instruments there, but if cowboys can play harmonicas and guitars on the prairie I think it is safe to assume that fishermen might have some talent in that area and maybe twanged on a lyre or piped since they were common instruments of the time.
Yet, even if they were singing a cappella it is likely they sang one of the Psalms since the word for hymn in the Greek is a form of the word to celebrate. This was a happy song not a funeral dirge. The Hebrew hymn book was the Psalms so what did they sing? Might it have been Psalm 2 or 22 not knowing they were singing the Messianic promises in those Psalms? We are not told and so we can only wonder until we get there and maybe God will fill in the details for detail people like my dear wife. At least we see that a good Christian song can be one of celebration of the Trinity or the works of God and indeed our salvation and His imminent return. Those are all reasons to celebrate and there are many others so sing a hymn whenever you can even if you may not feel like it or are in a season or situation that doesn’t seem to be something to celebrate. If Jesus could sing a celebratory song on His way to the Cross I reckon we can do the same in anything we face.
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
I think it is an amazing coincidence that singing comes after a verse on drunkenness. Some of the biggest singers are drunks. That is why there are juke boxes and nowadays Karaoke machines in the bars. Drunks love to sing but the subject matter of the songs is far different than the ones that are filled with the Spirit.
Drunken songs are usually sung with gusto and the subject matter fits the lifestyle of the particular group be they Rednecks, Goths or Yuppies. How much more so should our spiritual songs speak to the lifestyle we are called to live? We should have more gusto in our singing than anyone.