A Voice in the
Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, His truth endures to all generations. (Psa 100)
The first recorded music in Scripture comes from Jubal, the inventor of harp and flute. (Gen4:21) Scripture is full of references to music, singing and playing. Most are associated with worship of God Most High. There are also references to music being a prime motivator in idolatry. (Ex32:18,Dan3:5)
Music is so ingrained into society that there are many who seemingly cannot function without their favorite "brand" of music blaring away; from country love songs, to modern rap resonating for blocks as the mobile sub-woofers roll by. People cannot go walking or running out in nature's serenity without carrying along their "tunes."
Historically the ancient Greeks and Romans knew the power of music. They understood how music IMITATES and SHAPES the morality, politics and religion of a society.
Aristotle explained, "Music directly imitates the passions or states of the soul; hence, when one listens to music that imitates cer- tain passion, he becomes imbued with the same passion; and if over a long time he habitually listens to the kind of music that rouses ignoble passions his whole character will be shaped to an ignoble form. In short, if one listens to the wrong kind of music he will become the wrong kind of person; but, conversely, if he listens to the right kind of music he will tend to become the right kind of person."(Grout)
Plato expressed the politics of music well when he said, "Let me make the songs of a nation and I care not who makes it laws."
During the riotous years of the 60's & 70's it was claimed by some conservatives that rock music was a "Communist plot" in its attempt to overthrow Democracy. The plot is actually more insidious, coming straight from Hell, as those who receive their music awards openly, blatantly proclaim their intent to continue "seducing" our youth into immorality and occult...WITH MUSIC.
As we consider Religious Spiritual songs, the limited scope of this article will not allow a discussion of musical styles. Those who criticize modern "christian" rock, themselves listened to variations of sensual Southern blues/jazz, Gershwinesque vaudeville of the "roaring 20's" & 30's; followed later by movie moods. These criticisms even go back as far as Martin Luther and his use of "barroom tunes" to write his hymns. Where would the buck stop?
What does Scripture say about music? "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.(Col 3:16- 17)
THE WORD OF CHRIST. Teaching. Sound doctrine. Paul always reminded his hearers to "take heed to yourself and to the doctrine."(1Tim4:16) This necessitates being IN the Word, to know WHAT "is written."
If we are consistently in God's Word, we know that we don't "fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun" like the eastern mystics. Nor do we "guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride" in native "mother earth" style. We will know that we are not "bound for the promised land." And most importantly, we do not wish to lay aside doctrine with "walls come down, walls come down."
TEACH and ADMONISH one another. One of the most sacrilegious songs sung today usurps God and encourages man into Lucifer's rebellion, "I will be like the Most High," with the words, "You be Jesus to me, and I'll be Jesus to you." WHAT?! Cannot Jesus "be" Himself?
We are to encourage one another to "take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; Abide in Him always and feed on His Word." Reminding each other how Jesus "gave my life for thee, My precious blood I shed, that thou might'st ransomed be, and quickened from the dead." Fully realizing this, we will not ask Jesus to "walk WITH ME." Rather, "Follow, I will follow Thee, my Lord."
PURE HEARTS are characterized by grace. Our hearts have been puri- fied by confession (1Jn1:9), and we are imbued with humility as we are "submissive to one another, and clothed with humility."(1Pet5:5)
ACTIONS, furthermore, are worship to God. "Whatever you do in word or deed...do all in the name of Jesus." "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt..."(Col 4:5-6)
SING TO the LORD. God Most High is the focus of attention. The seraphim cried out "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!"(Is6:3) Every created being sings, "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (Rev5:13)
Isaiah saw "the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up." David in making preparations for the temple that Solomon was to build exclaims, "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. (1 Chr 29:11) And in the Psalms declares, "For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.(Psa 97:9)
So, where do we humans come up with the audacity to claim any au- thority by singing, "I exalt You...?" God ALREADY IS EXALTED. He ALREADY is in Heaven. He is the Creator. He ALREADY IS "far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also that which is to come.(Eph 1:21)
Our songs to God should best be described as in antiphonal Psalm 136. Two elements. 1) Praise to God for Who He is and His works. 2) Acknowledgment of His great MERCY, "For His mercy endures forever."
Alas! And did my Savior bleed, and did my Sov'reign die? Would He devote that Sacred Head for such a worm as I? (2) Was it for crimes that I have done, He groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity, Grace unknown, and love beyond degree! (3) Well, might the sun in darkness hide, and shut His glories in. When Christ, the Mighty Maker, died for man, the creature's, sin. (4) But drops of grief can ne'er repay the debt of love I owe. Here, Lord, I give myself away; 'Tis all that I can do!"
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing! ...Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen!" (Rev5:12,7:12)