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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Biblical Principles for Church Music (2)

Matthew 26:30: "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives." (cf. Mk. 14:26) Hebrews 2:12: "...in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."

The "they" of the Matthew 26 is the Lord Jesus and His apostles. After the Lord instituted His supper, He and the apostles sang an hymn and departed into the mount of Olives. The Hebrews passage alludes to Jesus and prophecy concerning Him, and indicates He sang praise in the midst of the church (congregation). In light of this, and the Ephesians & Colossians passages, it is amazing to me that Baptists had a controversy over whether to sing when gathered as a church. Beginning in the old country and ending in the new, Baptists in the 1600-1700's were divided over whether or not to sing. The Philadelphia Association even added a statement concerning "Of Singing of Psalms in Public Worship" to the 1689 London Confession, concluding that it was ordained of God for public assemblies.

Some Conclusions:
1. Jesus put His stamp of approval on audible group singing by the church when He instigated and participated in it in gathered worship.
2. The tradition of closing the Lord's supper with an hymn is good one based on precedent.
3. The gathered church should sing songs that praise God.

James 5:13: "Is any among you afflicted? let him PRAY. Is any merry? let him SING psalms." Acts 16:22,24,25: "...beat them...and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas PRAYED and SANG praises unto God..."
Singing is most often associated with happiness and merriment (cf. Matt. 11:17). But we must keep in mind that Christian joy differs from that of the world. In Philippi, in jail, Paul and Silas were both afflicted and merry, as revealed in their prayers and singing. Jesus sang an hymn with His disciples just before going into agonizing prayer in the garden. Paul and Silas sung in jail after being beaten and put in stocks. With the peace that passeth all understanding and joy unspeakable offered to us by our Lord, we find reasons to praise God in all situations. "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Habukkuk 3:17,18

Some Conclusions:
1. The contented Christian finds reasons to praise God in all situations.
2. Singing is appropriate on occasions that may seem inappropriate by worldly standards. (Might James 5 imply that singing is not always appropriate, such as singing when one ought to be calling the elders of the church?)
3. Singing outside of the gathered church is acceptable to God as well as that in the congregation.
4. Praying and singing are a powerful combination.
5. Singing with a musical instrument does not inhere in the Greek word "psalmos". (Many teach that "psalmos" MEANS to sing with musical accompaniment. It may allow for that, but does not MEAN that)

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