On Church Music

We’ve covered through the greeting so far, so we are up to the opening hymn or Psalm. Again, what’s happening in each section of worship, is God doing something, and we are responding with singing or prayer or reading. Singing is a response to God’s activity in our hearts. We sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, as Col 3:16 says. In each service we sing about half Psalms, half hymns and 1-2 other songs. Many churches today bring into their worship music the Christian music entertainment industry. The idea is that we should sing in church what is on the radio now. We take a different view, that we should sift the best music from all of church history and use that. This is what we do with our doctrine, too. We don’t mean to exclude the contemporary, it just hasn’t had the perspective of years to objectively evaluate it. As modern people, we have a hard time with this. We want the new, the emotional, the authentic, especially when we are responding to God in praise and worship. Using old songs seems so artificial – this isn’t me singing – why can’t I be me? The choice here is not between faking it with old music and being real with modern music. The choice is letting modern music shape us, or letting the best of the church’s musical history shape us. We need the humility to let our forefathers shape our praise. And the church we belong to shapes our praise, too. When we sing, we are not just individuals who happen to be in the same room. The music is chosen for us and we sing it together.

Next week, the opening prayer


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