How many minutes of your church’s Sunday morning worship service are given to singing or other forms of music? It is not unusual for the worship services of many churches to include from twenty to thirty minutes of music. The format of these musical moments varies from an unbroken segment of “praise and worship” to the spreading of musical selections throughout the service. Is all that music necessary? Does all the emphasis on music in today’s worship services have a biblical basis? Or, is it simply a contemporary phenomenon that may appear to be overshadowing other aspects of worship?
Can you imagine 120 trumpets being played in your church’s worship service? That’s what happened when Solomon dedicated the temple (2 Chr. 5:12). In addition to the 120 trumpets, there were cymbals, harps and other instruments, along with a large number of singers. Do you know what the result was of such lavish music making? The Bible tells us that “the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple of God” (2 Chr. 5:14 NLT). Of course we learn by reading the biblical account that it was not merely the act of making music that brought about the glory of the Lord. It was the fact that the “trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the LORD” (2 Chr. 5:13). The music had been directed to God as an offering of praise; consequently God’s blessing fell upon His assembled people.
The Book of Psalms says much about singing to the Lord. For example, Psalm 149:1 gives us instructions to sing and praise “in the assembly of the saints.” We are urged in Psalm 95:2 to “come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” And Psalm 30:4 tells us to “sing to the LORD, you saints of His.” By reading through the Book of Psalms we find many such references to the importance of singing as an act of God-centered praise and worship. Our Lord Jesus Christ set the prime example of group musical worship when at the Last Supper He and the disciples sang a hymn together (Mt. 26:30).
In addition to being an offering of praise to God, singing and making music in our worship services can also serve as a witness to others, including our children and grandchildren. The Bible offers encouraging examples of music serving such a purpose. Psalm 145 encourages praise to God with these words: “Let each generation tell its children of Your mighty acts … They will sing with joy of Your righteousness” (145:4,7). The apostle Paul’s letters to the churches at Ephesus and Colosse contain important emphasis on music- making that is certainly applicable to the 21st century church. In Ephesians 5:19 we’re instructed to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts.” In Colossians 3:16 we’re told to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.”
The apostle John, in the Book of Revelation, describes what will take place in the “new heaven and new earth.” He gives Christians a glimpse of heaven, where we will be with Jesus. Here we learn that music will play an important part in our heavenly worship of Jesus, the Lamb of God. For example John tells us: “I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb for ever and ever’” (Rev. 5:13). Could another important reason for singing in our worship services be to become well rehearsed for our future reign with Christ in heaven?
Is all the music in today’s worship services necessary? Certainly we can worship our Lord without music. However, since God has given us the gift of music and has demonstrated to us the way in which it can be a valuable expression of worship and witness, it can certainly be a highly desirable part of today’s corporate worship. We may even find music to be a personal necessity when we can say with the psalmist, “You thrill me, LORD, with all You have done for me! I sing for joy because of what You have done” (Ps. 92:4).
By Roger Wayne Hicks
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org