The Joy Of Singing
1. Another important element of our walk with God is the act of singing
a. We spend nearly a third of our assemblies engaged in this
b. It also has a place in our private devotions to God
-- And rightly so, for it has the potential of reaping great
spiritual benefits to those who engage in it properly
2. It is clear that those who walked with God in Old Testament times
delighted in singing - cf. Ps 146:1-2
3. Christians were taught to respond to the goodness of God in a
similar way - Ja 5:13
4. But there are indications in many churches which cause me to wonder
if some have lost the joy of singing
a. Many Christians sing with virtually no emotion
b. Some go one step further, and do not sing at all!
c. I have personally known Christians, who...
1) Complained because time available for classes was taken up by
the singing of a few hymns
2) Will not attend a worship service if they know it will be
devoted primarily to singing
d. In contrast, it was common in the past for people to travel some
distance to attend a service devoted to praising God in song
5. WHY DO SUCH CONDITIONS EXIST? I suspect it may be a failure to
a. The true purpose of singing
b. How we can get more out of singing
[In an effort to assure that we will experience the JOY of singing,
let's first examine...]
I. THE PURPOSE OF SINGING
A. TO PRAISE THE LORD - Ac 16:25
1. This is the most popular concept of the purpose of singing
a. Indeed, this is certainly the idea inherent in the word
b. Which comes from the Greek word HUMNOS, meaning "a song in
2. Praising God should be "a natural" for Christians!
a. For if David in the Old Testament reacted this way to the
blessings God gave him ... - Ps 28:6-7
b. How much more should we!
3. In fact, singing is one of the "spiritual sacrifices" that we
are to offer to God - He 13:15
a. As "spiritual priests" we are to offer up "spiritual
sacrifices acceptable to God" - 1 Pe 2:5
b. If we are not careful, we might be guilty of offering
"defiled" service to God as was the case in Malachi's day!
- cf. Mal 1:7-8, 12-13
B. TO TEACH AND ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER - Co 3:16; Ep 5:19
1. Our singing is not just directed toward God...
a. Certainly, many songs are
b. But many of the songs are directed to each other
2. That's because many songs are designed to teach one another
a. Teaching and admonishing us to live properly, enjoying the
blessings of the Christian life
b. It might even be said that "congregational singing" is
often "congregational teaching"!
c. Thus singing is a way that we can encourage our brethren
and ourselves as well!
[When done properly, singing can be a wonderful blessing; but how can
we get the most out of singing?]
II. GETTING MORE OF OUR SINGING
A. WE MUST ENGAGE THE "MIND" AS WE SING...
1. Remember, singing is "teaching and admonishing one another"
a. This assumes that we UNDERSTAND what we sing
b. We must be careful that our enjoyment of singing is not
like the way many people enjoy their popular music (liking
the music without necessarily understanding the words)
2. Therefore, give careful attention to the WORDS of the song
B. WE MUST ALSO ENGAGE THE "HEART" AS WE SING...
1. When we sing, we must do so...
a. "with grace in our hearts" - Co 3:16
b. "making melody in your heart" - Ep 5:19
2. This assumes that we involve our EMOTIONS as we sing!
3. To sing without emotion (without grace in our hearts)...
a. Will be evident in our countenances! - Pr 15:13
b. Is hypocritical, and condemned by Jesus! - Mt 15:7-8
[So as we sing, do so with BOTH the emotions of the heart and the
understanding of the mind. In a further effort to assure that we
experience the "joy of singing", consider some...]
III. QUESTIONS TO EVALUATE YOUR SINGING
A. DO YOU LIMIT THE SPHERE OF YOUR SINGING?
1. Is your singing limited just to the public assemblies?
2. Or do you utilize opportunities to sing at other times with
others, or even alone?
3. Singing, like prayer, ought to be spontaneous, arising
whenever the circumstances call for it - cf. Ac 16:25;
B. IS THERE LACK OF EMOTION IN YOUR SINGING?
1. Remember, singing is to involve the HEART
2. And not with just "some" heart, but as in all that we do for
the Lord, with "all" our hearts! - Mt 22:37
3. When it comes time to praise the Lord, it should not be done
a. Remember Mt 15:7-9
b. "It is a great sign of mediocrity to praise always
moderately." - Vauvenargues
4. Not all may be talented in voice, but all can and should bless
the Lord with their "whole being"! - Ps 103:1
C. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SINGING?
1. Again, singing must also involve the MIND
2. Some songs, though sounding beautiful, can be so complicated
as to hinder understanding
a. E.g., the musical arrangement can be such that one spends
more time concentrating on the notes rather than the words
b. E.g., the pace of the song can be so fast that we don't
absorb the meaning of the words
c. E.g., the words used may be unusual and not understood by
the average singer
3. Song leaders can perform a valuable service by being careful
in the songs they select to lead
a. Carefully introducing songs that may be new to the congre-
b. Taking a moment to explain the meaning of the song or
unusual words in it
4. But the ultimate responsibility falls on us who sing, so we
should make every effort to understand what we are singing
D. DO YOU STRESS MUSICAL HARMONY TO THE DETRIMENT OF NEW TESTAMENT
1. Fortunately, God stresses making melody in our hearts over
making harmony with our voices
2. In a natural desire to offer beautiful praise, do you
discourage those who might not have trained voices but still
love to praise God with their whole being?
3. I have occasionally seen some Christians give a criticizing
look at others who sang "off key"
4. But the emphasis should be on praising God in heart and mind,
and not how it may sound to the human ear!
E. DO YOU HINDER YOUR OWN SINGING BY WHERE YOU SIT?
1. Sitting alone or spread out naturally discourages many from
singing as they otherwise might
2. People become more involved, are more uplifted, edify others
better, when they sit together and close to the song leader
3. One of the first steps to better singing is to sit with others
who love to sing!
1. Have we lost the joy of singing?
2. I believe that if we could see ourselves as song leaders do, we
might be constrained to say "yes"!
3. I hope that by reminding ourselves of the purpose of singing and how
to get more out of it, we might rekindle this act of worship which
can do so much for our walk with God!
4. May David's attitude, a man after God's own heart, describe our own:
"I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being."
- Ps 104:33
"Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful."
- Ps 147:1
SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING...
1. Which is more important when we sing, how we sound or how we feel?
2. Are we really teaching and admonishing one another in song if we
just whisper or mouth the words?
3. Do we sing because we are happy, or are we happy because we sing?
4. Do you sing praises to God by yourself throughout the week?
5. Does your family ever sing spiritual songs together (e.g., while
traveling in the car)?
6. Which is more unscriptural, singing with mechanical instruments, or
singing without engaging the instrument of the heart?
Music In The New Testament Church
1. In our last lesson, we noted various types of worship...
a. VAIN worship - Mt 15:8-9
b. IGNORANT worship - Ac 17:22-23
c. WILL worship - Co 2:20-23
d. TRUE worship - Jn 4:23-24
-- The last one being the only one acceptable to God!
2. We then considered what was involved in "TRUE" worship, what Jesus
meant when He said "worship in spirit and truth"...
a. It is more than just worshipping with the right attitude and in
the right way (for such was true with regards to OT worship)
b. It is a SPIRITUAL worship which is in harmony with the TRUTH
concerning God's nature (God is Spirit) and the location of the
TRUE tabernacle (in heaven)
c. Contrast this with OT worship with its FLESHLY ordinances which
served only as a SHADOW until the TRUE came along
3. In this lesson, we shall consider the MUSIC God wants in the worship
of the church; in doing so...
a. We shall notice that it is indeed a TRUE, SPIRITUAL music unlike
that found in the OT
b. Also, that our understanding of the kind of music to be used in
the worship of the church is supported by what many historians,
reformers, and scholars have said on the subject
[Let's begin with a look at...]
I. THE MUSIC IN "TRUE" WORSHIP
A. THE ONLY MUSIC COMMANDED IN THE NT WAS "VOCAL"...
1. The example of Jesus and His disciples - Mt 26:30; Mk 14:26
(they "sung a hymn")
2. The example of Paul and Silas - Ac 16:25 ("singing hymns")
3. Other references
a. Ro 15:9 - "sing to Your name"
b. 1 Co 14:15 - "I will sing with the spirit, and I will also
sing with the understanding"
c. Ep 5:19 - "singing and making melody in your heart"
d. Co 3:16 - "singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord"
e. He 2:12 - "I will sing praise to You"
f. Ja 5:13 - "Let him sing psalms"
B. THE MUSIC IN THE NT EMPHASIZED THE "SPIRITUAL"...
1. Ep 5:19 - "singing and making melody in your heart to the
a. "making melody" (PSALLONTES) - In the OT this had reference
to the playing of musical instruments
b. But notice that now (in the NT) the "making melody" is to
be done "in the heart", not with mechanical instruments!
c. Notice the contrast: the heart (SPIRITUAL) vs. mechanical
d. Since this music is to be offered "to the Lord", we had
better regard Him as Holy and offer exactly what He
specified (cf. Nadab & Abihu)!
2. Co 3:16 - "singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord"
a. This passage is parallel to Ep 5:19
b. Notice again that the emphasis is SPIRITUAL: "in your
hearts to the Lord"
C. REVIEW THE CONTRAST BETWEEN OT MUSIC AND NT MUSIC...
1. OT music
a. Performed by a professional choir
b. Accompanied with various mechanical instruments
c. EMPHASIS: How it sounds to the human ear (appealing to the
PHYSICAL side of man)
2. NT music
a. Sung by all in the congregation ("speaking to one another
b. The melody to be made in the HEART, not on the HARP
c. EMPHASIS: How it affects the soul (the SPIRITUAL side of
[Music in NT worship, therefore, is to be SPIRITUAL in emphasis:
1. Sung by all
2. With emphasis not on how we sound, but that we are making true
melody in our hearts to the Lord!
Lest people think that we are unusual in this view of using only vocal
music in NT worship, and choosing not to add mechanical instruments in
worship, consider some interesting references... ]
II. REFERENCES ON MUSIC IN THE NEW
A. THE VOICE OF HISTORY...
1. "All our sources deal amply with vocal music of the church,
but they are chary with mention of any other manifestations of
musical art... The development of Western music was decisively
influenced by the exclusion of musical instruments from the
early Christian Church." - Paul Henry Lang, MUSIC IN WESTERN
CIVILIZATION, pp. 53,54
2. "Only singing, however, and no playing of instruments, was
permitted in the early Christian Church." - Hugo
Leichtentritt, MUSIC, HISTORY AND IDEAS, p. 34
3. "There can be no doubt that originally the music of the divine
service was everywhere entirely of a vocal nature." - Emil
Nauman, THE HISTORY OF MUSIC, Vol. 1, p. 177
4. "We have no real knowledge of the exact character of the music
which formed a part of the religious devotion of the first
Christian congregations. It was, however, purely vocal." - Dr.
Frederick Louis Ritter, HISTORY OF MUSIC FROM THE CHRISTIAN
ERA TO THE PRESENT TIME, p. 28
5. "Both the Jews in their temple service, and the Greeks in
their idol worship, were accustomed to sing with the
accompaniment of instrumental music. The converts to
Christianity accordingly must have been familiar with this
mode of singing...But it is generally admitted, that the
primitive Christians employed no instrumental music in their
worship." -- Lyman Coleman (Presbyterian), THE APOSTOLIC AND
, pp. 368-369 PRIMITIVE CHURCH
[It may seem odd that music was entirely vocal in the early church,
when instrumental music was quite common in the worship of the Jews
and Gentiles. But not when you recall that the worship in the NT
was to be spiritual in it semphasis.]
B. THE VOICE OF VARIOUS RELIGIOUS SOURCES...
1. CATHOLIC - "... the first Christians were of too spiritual a
fibre to substitute lifeless instruments for or to use them to
accompany the human voice." -- CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA
2. GREEK ORTHODOX - "The execution of Byzantine church music by
instruments, or even the accompaniment of sacred chanting by
instruments was ruled out by the Eastern Fathers as being
incompatible with the pure, solemn, spiritual character of the
religion of Christ." -- Constantine Cavarnos, BYSANTINE SACRED
3. PRESBYTERIAN - "Musical instruments in celebrating the praises
of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense,
the lighting up of lamps, the restoration of the other shadows
of the law. The Papists, therefore, have foolishly borrowed
this, as well as many other things, from the Jews. Men who
are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise; but the
simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostle is far
more pleasing to Him." - JOHN CALVIN, Commentary on the Book
of Psalms, Vol. I, p. 539
4. METHODIST - "I have no objection to instruments of music, in
our chapels, provided they are neither heard nor seen." - JOHN
5. METHODIST - "Music as a science, I esteem and admire: but
instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and
abhor. This is the abuse of music; and here I register my
protest against all such corruptions in the worship of the
Author of Christianity." - ADAM CLARKE (commentator)
6. LUTHERAN - "Martin Luther called the organ an 'ensign of
Baal'." - MCCLINTOCK & STRONG'S ENCYCLOPEDIA
7. BAPTIST - "I would as soon attempt to pray to God with
machinery as to sing to Him with machinery." - CHARLES H.
[Why did these men object so strongly to instrumental music in the
worship of the church? Because they properly realized:
1. That such was a carry-over from the Jewish worship
2. That as such it was out of harmony with the SPIRITUAL nature of
3. That it rightfully belonged to the Old Law with its "shadows" and
not the TRUE worship of the NT
Finally, let's consider...]
III. JUSTIFICATION OFFERED FOR THE USE OF INSTRUMENTS
A. "IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN A TRADITION IN OUR CHURCH"
1. Not really, as history reveals the use of instruments to be an
innovation introduced hundreds of years after the NT Church
2. In most cases, it has been used only during the last two
3. Even so, as "traditions of men" it qualifies as VAIN worship
- Mt 15:9
B. "I DON'T SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT"
1. Then your worship is IGNORANT worship - Ac 17:22-23
2. For you are not aware of the kind of worship God commands of
C. "I LIKE IT IN MY WORSHIP TO GOD"
1. Then it becomes WILL worship - Co 2:20-23
2. And you begin worshipping like Nadab & Abihu
a. Offering that which YOU like
b. But offering that which is profane, for God did not command
D. "IT IS FOUND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT"
1. So are a lot of other acts of worship which were "imposed
until a time of reformation" - He 9:10
2. That time is come and God expects His people to worship
differently - Jn 4:23-24
3. The fact that God may have commanded it in the past does not
mean that He approves its use now (especially when He has
revealed what He DOES want)
4. Consider the sin of Moses
a. God first told him to STRIKE the rock for water - Exo 17:
b. Later, God at another time told him to SPEAK to the rock
- Num 20:7-8
c. But Moses struck the rock as before, and in so doing sinned
and lost his right to enter the promised land - Num 20:9-12
5. His sin? He did not treat God holy by doing ONLY what God had
commanded at the PRESENT time!
a. God may have commanded INSTRUMENTAL music in the past (OT)
b. But He now commands VOCAL music (NT)
1. Let's not make the same mistakes as did Nadab and Abihu, Moses and
Aaron, forfeiting our inheritance in the Promised Land offered
to Christians (i.e., Heaven)
2. As we approach God in worship, let us treat Him as Holy by
worshipping as He has commanded: "in spirit and in truth"
3. In regards to our music ...
a. Let it be singing with melody in our hearts to the Lord
b. And not with melody made with mechanical instruments
In doing so, we KNOW we are on safe ground, and that our worship is
well pleasing to Him!