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Church Music: Joyful Noise Or Joyful News?

April 1st, 2007

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD”

(Psalm 100:1; compare Psalm 150)

“…but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart…”

(Ephesians 5:18-19)

The Old Testament placed emphasis on instrumental music in certain instances. The classic example of this is 1 Samuel 16:14-23, where King Saul would call for David’s lyre to soothe him from a recurrent evil spirit (depression?). The nature of the Old Testament, itself, was but a shadow of the better covenant to come under Christ (as predicted by Jeremiah, 31:31-34; Hebrews 9:1; 10:1; especially see 9:11).

But, New Testament worship would be different, as prophesied, and as implemented, under the doctrine of the apostles (Acts 2:42). In this regard, we may see a shift away from mere carnal sacrifices and offering to more spiritually based worship. For example, instead of incense—prayers; instead of animals—Jesus; instead of mechanical instruments—the heart (see Ephesians 5:19).

The kind of music that God desires today, that is, what he has ordered for church worship, is specified by Paul—“I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also” (1 Cor. 12:15).

– Robert M. Housby