A Voice in the
Wilderness

site navigation

free newsletter

June 5, 2012

Return to: Q/A's
Q/A Topics:
  • What Musical Styles from the Bible?


What Musical Styles from the Bible?

READER QUESTION:
Do you have clear Biblee verses to which to correctly teach from the word of God one musical style over another for worship?

You know classical over pop, jazz, soft rock, country or any other musical style. Or verse that promote one type of musical or singing style say organ over piano, choruses over hymns.

I say if it sounds like the world then it is worldly. If it sounds satanic it is satanic. If it moves the flesh and not the spirit it is of the flesh.

These verse are as close as I can find

    Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

    Col 3:16 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 of course following the apostle Paul's instruction as a general rule 1Cor 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

I find it hard to try and help bring to man's understanding that musical worship should be done in one way over another. and the few verse above give no clear teaching over these issues which involve churches today to the point of separation without Biblical basis that prove one is in error over the other.

VW ANSWER:
If a person browses the "music" section of the Search page, whatever we say here I believe has already been said in other contexts. And basically, you are correct. If it sounds like the world, if it sounds of satan, if it moves the flesh. And let's get this one out of the way, from last week, from the 'report' of a meeting at a local Calvary Chapel...

    ...this is the same place where, a few years ago when I was working at this one job, there was this gal I talked with occasionally during coffee breaks or lunch; not a Christian, no interest in spiritual matters; but she went to "Calvary Chapel" because... ready for this? "They have a GREAT BAND!" And, as far as her attitude was concerned about the matter, she could have just as easily gone to Calvary Chapel, or a tavern... wherever the "entertainment" was suitable to her tastes. And so, this past week-end I understood what she had been talking about. As a "rock band" they...uh... Rock!
The styles were listed. The Bible does not list classical, jazz, rock, country, rap. Most of today's instruments did not exist in Bible times. Thus, we need to use some "SANCTIFIED COMMON SENSE". Let's take them in order as given:
  • CLASSICAL: Some of the hymns we sing were composed by various ones: Haydn (Glorious things of Thee are spoken), Handel (Joy to the World), Sibelius (Be Still my Soul), Palestrina (The Strife is O'er), etc. But does that mean that ANY-and-ALL classical is suitable? There is some classical of the more modern variaty that is actually of the style of (eastern) "meditation" with atonal, tone-clusters, and all that stuff. It is not "decently and in order", and is of a different spirit. There is some from the medieval period that could give hard-rock a run for its money in terms of being obnoxious. e.g. There is this thing that the local Gonzaga classical station plays (I don't recall having been subjected to it when I went to school) as it cycles around on the station's play list, consisting of a section of nothing but tritones. For you that don't know what that is...the most pure interval (next to unison or octave) for tuning is the 5th. When Babylonian monks started putting 'harmony' to their Gregorian chant it was in parallel 5ths, because they viewed it as the most 'perfect' (and 'pure') interval. Invert that within the octave and it is the 4th. Violins and viola strings are tuned to the 5th. Guitars, I believe (?), except for the 3rd, to the 4th. But take those lovely 'pure' sounds and play the interval in-between them (augmented 4th or diminished 5th)...that is the tritone. If used tastefully, it can add a certain interesting melodic flavor. But there is this medieval piece (I don't recall who the composer is) that plays over and over.... tritone...tritone...tritone...tritone which absolutely grates on the nerves. Definitely -NOT- "melody" in the heart. But it's in the generic genre called (ancient/older) "classical". So, just because something is "classical", and much of it is good, not all is.

    Of course, here we are speaking of that which is suitable to congregational singing. There are other 'concert' compositions like Mendelssohn's "Elijah", Handel's "Messiah", Dvorak's "Biblical Songs", etc that are wonderful, but the average person is not trained to perform them.

  • POP: By definition, the music of the world. And we are not to be "conformed to the world" (Ro12:2) It borrows from pretty much all the other forms. It is of the world in lyrics, music, performer attire, performer movements, performer sensuality. It can include light jazz, sensual 'mood' music, light rock...pretty much everything. Pretty much anything that is on American Idol, or the music selections of America's Got Talent, or what's that latest one? the "duet" one? are of this form. Duet between a man and woman? Usually of a sensual nature...what they call "love songs". (lust) There is no way a Christian should even be adapting it and calling it "christian", just from "associative" aspects. It -looks- and -sounds- too much like the world. Somebody hearing it will not guess, in a million years, that it alleges to be "Christian". Are there some forms a Christian can listen to for non-Christian 'entertainment'? Well, is it OK for Christians to play baseball? Sure. But don't do it while claiming it is a "worship" service.

    OK...back to the 70s, an experience while I was home for summer and near a TV. I came down the stairs and there, on the TV, was this musical performing group. From the pop music and sensuous gyrations of the performing group, along with the mini-skirts on the girls, I 'wondered' to myself what (hollywood) group this was? The number came to a close and the 'program' continued...it turned out to be some sort of "christian" meeting put on by Campus Crusade for Christ. Even as a Christian I could not tell it was alleging to be "Christian". It was nothing I was familiar with, and could not decipher any "christian" words out of the muddle.

    Let's visit the "attire" topic a moment. What is with some of these outfits that make the person, particularly the females, appear to be naked. You who pay attention to what's going on out there, you know what I'm talking about. I'm not just talking about short things or strapless.

    What about the dance moves. Of particular note (again lately) is these commercials for "Zumba" A good many of those moves also find their way into the performance routines. I can't even figure out 'how' they can move their bodies in that way. If I didn't know any better, I would say it looks 'satanic'. Perhaps lifted straight from the jungles and the witchdoctors? They move like 'serpents'. It should NOT be part of God's worship...not even a little bit. It is sensual, of the flesh, demonic. (Ja3:15)

      "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Ro12:2)

      "proving what is acceptable to the Lord." (Eph5:10)

  • JAZZ: again, some forms might be OK as "music", for entertainment. Some grew up with it being nothing but "dance music" during the war era, and for them it is wrong. I do not have that "dance" stigma in my mind and find much of it musically to be intellectually fascinating stuff. However, if I happen to see some video clip of people dancing certain styles to it...I see where they come up with it...if they cannot separate the dance from the music. I supposed it's kinda like Rom14:1-4

    But, while it 'stimulates' a person intellectually or musically, even as being a 'musician' myself, I 'know' it is not Godly spiritual music. The Spirit knows the things of the Spirit...and jazz is NOT.

  • SOFT ROCK: perhaps like jazz? These last two, perhaps OK for 'entertainment'? But are those emotions, which in and of themselves might be OK generically in life...are they appropriate in the church setting? As an example: It is taught that the "marriage bed" is blessed by God (Heb13:4), but it is certainly NOT APPROPRIATE in church. When Israel was to appear before God they were commanded "do not approach (have sex with) your wives" (Ex19:15)

  • HARD ROCK: he didn't mention this. What goes on, typically, in so-called 'worship' bands is a cross between 'soft' and 'hard' rock. What that unsaved girl was 'enjoying' about the local Calvary Chapel, was -NOT- for Godly reasons. On that commercial that is playing regularly lately...the audience is being whipped up into a frenzy...they must be doing a "sound check" (?) where the guitar wails something obnoxious, followed by the drummer setting up a rhythmic patter, and the audience goes -further- wild. When Aaron made the golden calf, and they "rose up to play" (Ex32:6, 1Co10:7) how many people -died- in judgment? When the 'geniuses' on Big Bang Theory have their moments 'wailing' on their guitars, is that "decently and in order"? Is it fitting for 'worship'?

  • RAP: I think...one of the most evil devices there is today. Is there more of it this year? Or am I just more sensitive to it? The rolling "boom" boxes. A couple weeks ago, for a little while, there was this one Chevy SUV with an "Aspen Sound" and something else with yellow 'flames' window decal in the back window, that would drive by with everything cranked up, windows open...deep rumbling bass, the percussion rattling, and the obnoxious raspy voice rapping. Other vehicles, volume turned down more, go by, momentarily, and then it's over. But this guy, for a time, there, was going by, turning down the side street next block over, would come out the same street, booming the whole time he's sitting at the stop sign waiting for traffic to come out onto the boulevard, and boom-boom-boom rasp-rasp-rasp down the street to where he'd sit there at the red light. Sitting there throbbing, shaking everything in sight for several blocks away. And he would do this many times a day. One time I had had enough, I ran down to the sidewalk and yelled at him through his open windows, made some 'downward' motions with my hands...as he looks over, with this 'blank' stare on his face. After a few more days of this, I got the idea...got out my camera, and walked practically out onto the street so I could get a good shot of him and his license number, zoomed up close, as he sat there at the red light. After a couple more 'quieter' days, now I haven't seen him for some time. It is "noise" (I won't dignify it with the label "music") of a most evil sort...from the raspy harsh sound that seems unique to the Negroid race of those who perform it (Don't get upset with the observation. Each race has its own sound: oriental, caucasoid, middle eastern.), to the lyrics I typically don't understand... but hearing from those who do, it includes all sorts of evil intentions and evil deeds.

    Where do people even concoct the idea that they can do this sort of thing and call it "christian"? But some do.

  • COUNTRY: (and Bluegrass) There are so many substyles. But here is another style with some of jazz's parameters. As far as lyrics go (and this goes for all the styles, and is key) some are good and others are not. Certainly, to "Stand by your man", the lyrics I remember, seem good. Anything wrong with "Give me 40 acres and I'll turn this rig around"? But the ones where somebody "pours themself a cup of coffee" and goes to visit his neighbor's wife are obviously not. For me, personally, I don't 'care' for country. Bluegrass, on the other hand, is 'interesting' to me. A bit of banjo, mandolin, fiddle, gittar and if there is a washtub bass, all the better. There is something "home-brew" and "earthy" to it, that in spite of my classical training, really grabs me.

    However, I have heard this style claiming to be "christian". I've shared this before, this is repeat: Years ago when Chuck Missler came over to Spokane from his home in Idaho for a couple of preaching meetings, at one of the meetings he brought along this Bluegrass band from Idaho. On the platform of 4th Memorial Church they stood up there and played and sang. Little bit of country, little bit of bluegrass. It was -NOT- appropriate. And further, when they got to their last number, that was when they -really- 'let loose', played some hard throbbing music like would have been appropriate to the movie "Dirty Dancing", and the single female went into the slow gyrations...well, the only thing she was missing was the "pole"...but she did keep her clothes on. However, from the expressions on her face and body movements, it was like she was "pleasuring" herself. Sorry for being so graphic...but that's what it was! (At that point I got up and walked out of the room until the band was finished) Does anybody need an explanation for what was wrong with that? And why was I (and this other person, who thought she had come to the 'wrong place') the only one/s who walked out??? Did everybody else in there think that strip-pole dancing was "appropriate" in a place called "God's house"? The place was pretty-well packed. There were a 'lot' of people there. No body else thought they should walk out, too?? And this was, as I've heard it termed, the area's "Hub Church" to others that expanded and grew out of there. It also used to host (does it still?) the area's Moody Extension school.

  • HILLBILLY: Now here's a case I don't quite know what to do with. Normally this would be in the class along with bluegrass. But I recall a Public TV program some years ago that featured the Appalachian regions. And mixed in they played some music of people "at church". Were they actual "Christians"? Or were they your typical nominal "christians", meeting together as many people do? But they sang some songs, and played their banjos and fiddles, etc., singing some songs I've never heard before. But those songs 'grabbed' me with their -simple- Christian message. The music was not your "souped up" razzmatazz and gyrate all over the place. They didn't move at all...they just sat/stood there and -sang-. They weren't hymns, either. It was -simple-. I don't know what more to say about it, without having more exposure to it. But not knowing anything more about them, I would tend to be inclined to adjudge it, initially, as a 'pure' form of Gospel music.

  • ORGAN: Now here's a real frustrating one. I -minored- in organ. And yet, for all its grandeur, I have a 'problem' with organ. OK...you organists, hang onto your hats. I'm not gonna get 'crazy' on you.
      "The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created." (Ezk28:13b)
    This is talking about the "anointed cherub that covers" (vs14) In addition to the "lutes" (guitars), we spoke of not long ago we observed the "noise of your lutes" (Is14:11); Right here we have the guitar and cymbals...and...the organ. All of these the domain of satan. What are the prime instruments of a rock band? Guitars (melody, rhythm, bass) and Drum set...with -lots- of cymbals. So where does the organ fit?

    The earthly organ had humble beginnings. The first real organ was called a "Portative". It was smaller and could be -carried-. Somebody would work the bellows, while the musician played. But for the most part, -where- are all the big monstrosities that today make up "organ"? Most of them reside in the domain of Babylon. Yes, some protestant churches have pipe organs, there are some in universities, and back in-the-day, there used to be the bawdy theater organs. For the most part, what Christian church could -afford- a pipe organ? With electronics, 'simulated' pipe organs are possible. But if it is not a -real- pipe organ, it is not a -real- PIPE ORGAN. The -real- thing with air moving through pipes.

    Now here's a scary thought. When a scary movie is shown, or something dealing with helloween, and the zombie, vampire, or mummie is out on the prowl, what is the 'scary' music that is played? A scary organ for scary demons?

    On the other hand: Why should the devil have all the good music? And where, historically, have we heard that excuse (for other things) before? They can simulate "scariness". But the organ also produces some of the most grand music playable on a single instrument. Just because the anointed cherub had a living built-in pipe organ doesn't mean it's bad. Who made it? God.

    Pipe organs glorify God. I've also heard recordings where the organ was accompanied by a drum set and synthesizer. Not to mention the 'scary' goblin sounds. Not to mention the avant garde stuff where the performer -laid- down on all the keys, at the same time, to create some 'stupid' stuff. But it is not the 'character' of the organ (like pop music, rock guitars and drums) to do those things.

  • PIANO: The piano is likely one of the most -basic- instruments. Anything imaginable can be played on it. It goes from the lowest practical note up to the highest practical notes. It can play -any- style. I don't know that there is anything 'good' or 'bad' to the piano. I don't imagine it can be delinated like the guitar, from the basic neutral (classical) guitars, to the ones that by their design and intent are for rock, replete with demonic looking body characteristics.

    But up to this point, that's all peripheral.

  • CHORUSES VS HYMNS: This is not as 'simple' a topic as might be thought. At the website "Songbook" are 315 songs. (We can go through them all, one per week, and not repeat anything for over six years) If I ever get around to it, I have a list of some other good things to add. And were I to dig in in earnest, I know I could find a bunch more. I don't know exactly, but I know there's easily a dozen or more hymnals and chorus books in my collection. As I compiled the Songbook I had six hymnals within reach, and discovered something I had not noticed before; mainly because I wasn't the one doing the organizing before that. Just because something says "Hymnal", doesn't mean that every song within its pages is worthy of singing. Each hymnal is compiled by its own unique company: this baptist denomination, that interdenominal denomination, this company from the 1940s, this other latest thing that titillates everybody's fancy. A couple months ago I visited this particular local 'church' that had these books...likely 6-700 hymns, choruses, worship songs, etc. The hymns were not written like hymns, even musically. They had hymns and worship songs interspersed with each other, willy nilly. As though worship songs were worthy of the same due regard as the hymns. And what characterized this book began that tendency back in the 40s and 50s. Only, not as many worship songs had 'emerged' yet. And just because something is called a "hymn", it is not.

    As I compiled and recorded, I basically started at the beginning of -a- hymnal, song after song, and was amazed at how many were doctrinally flawed. Certainly, they were songs I've sung/played hundreds of times over the years, and led in congregational singing. But as I evaluated whether "this next one" is worth spending the time to compile, is it doctrinally sound, or does it begin to 'deviate' into one of the aberrant theologies...you know, the enemy is -quite- 'clever'. You know how it is...singing songs is not "as serious" as the preacher's sermon. So, there's a "little problem" with this one...everybody likes it so much, and it is "mostly" sound, most of the verses are OK. And if all the denominations compile their songs in the same songbooks, everybody's songs get mixed up together.

    For example, the "Holy Spirit" section of most hymnals has problems. The #1 problem is that they speak and pray -to- the Holy Spirit, and ask Him to respond, where Jesus said, "He will not speak things originating from Himself...He will receive from what is Mine and make it known to you. " (Jn16:13-14) When Paul prays he does so "to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph3:14) Where does Scripture say the Spirit of God "Descend(s) upon my heart" Where does the Bible say the Holy Spirit "hovers o'er me". The Holy Spirit is not some sort of ethereal 'mist', like from a 'ghost movie'. In "The Comforter has come" it teaches "to every captive soul a full deliverance brings" This is pentecostalism and charismania in a hymnal. The early Church did not pray to the Holy Spirit to cast out demons, they did so "in the name of Jesus"

    Who was it? The Greek philosopher - Plato? "Let me write the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws".

    Well, satan has that one pretty well figured out, too. Let me write the songs of the church, and I care not what its doctrine is.

    One of the e-mail news services, who leans in the "Baptist" direction, has been suggesting lately that "in ten years" his denomination will have joined the ranks of the "emergent" church, that it has -begun- "emerging" now. I have news for him, and he didn't appreciate it when I e-mail to say so, that his warning is TOO LATE. Back in the 70s, when I was watching it all happen, before I ever knew it would be called "emergent" (today), his denomination was -already- 'beginning' to "emerge". And actually, it began before that. As my parents were on the mission field in Japan in the 50s, it was already starting. And the songs reflected it. Just one example of a popular song from that era:

    
    I'm in love (swoon) deeply in love (raspy voice, more swoon)
    with the Lover of my soul (moan)
    I will sing, praise to my King (vocal slide)
    while the years of eternity roll... 
    Love songs, sung in the popular style of Hollywood, and emotional sentuality. When those missionary wives would sing it as special music at the conferences they were much more adept at swooping their voices and sounding like (please forgive me for this) bedroom eyes. And yes, even as a pre-eleven year old I 'knew' what was going on. I didn't know what bedroom eyes were, but I recognized the voice. I knew 'something' wasn't right with it! (I was saved when I was 5)

  • BIG BAND VOCALS: - added after the rest of the Q/A was first written
    And a 'new' genre; although it's not new at all, but in a way, goes way back to the beginning of where all this started. Without Big-Band, rock-n-roll likely wouldn't have gotten off the ground. And "2 plus 2" only recently were calculated to "4" for me. Since I was so young during that era, and hadn't yet been born when it started, there was a lot I did not understand. And strangely enough, for as strict as my father was on everything, even denouncing "jazz" in general (all forms of it), I don't recall (even) him making the connection.

    But recently two things on Public TV made the connection for me. Around Memorial Day they broadcast hours of documentaries on "The War". Then a couple weeks later they were doing fund raising and giving away CDs for collections of "Big Band Vocals", and playing a lot of it for the program. Ah! There it was!

    "Don't sit under the apple tree" (with anyone else but me). If the meaning of the "tree" isn't clear, the next verse goes, "Don't be walkin' down lover's lane..." There's another, "I wonder who she's kissing now". It includes the light upbeat things, but also has the close harmonies and 'blue' chords...a kind of slow steamy harmony that most of today's musicians can't sing in tune well enough to pull it off.

    The primary theme seems to have been the military guy taking off, leaving his girl behind: Now you be 'faithful' to me. But knowing that wasn't likely. As history proves out, all the divorces and cheating...both on the part of the girls left behind, as well as the guys finding 'companionship' while overseas.

    Real popular in the war years were the girl's trios and solos. Dina Shore was featured doing something sultry and 'native'. Rosemary Cluney and others. The trios were popular because, well, they were "girls" and were entertaining the "men". Nothing has changed since then to now.

    And out from that the churches also developed their own versions. I always wondered what the deal was with groups like the White Sisters, or the Evangelettes Trio. Big Band was popular with the world, and so the 'church' borrowed from it. Again: nothing has changed.

    The song (above) "I'm in love....with the lover of my soul", to explain better 'how' it was sung...it was sung just like those sultry Big Band love songs. Think of "I'm dreaming of a white x-mass" like the popular ones used to sing it during that era. That's how they would sing "I'm in love..."

    And so, as a side note here: All this loving and infidelity going on, along comes Irving Berlin during that time who writes, "God Bless America" And then, after 9/11 our congressional people stand on the Capitol steps to sing it, while GWBush encourages Americans to "keep doing as you are doing...don't change a thing". Americans are being immoral, unfaithful, cheating and stealing...Don't change a thing...God Bless America...???? Again: When it was written it was the War. When GW pontificated, war was about to begin. Nothing has changed.

    But you see...we observed that the "emerging" had already started way before the 70s. The older folks (those who bother to do so) can berate the present generation for mixing worship with rock and roll, but they say NOTHING about how their own generation (the so-called 'greatest' generation) was mixing worship with Big Band!!!

    Nothing has changed!

So, does this explain why it is not possible to look up in the Bible and say: This is Biblical, but this is not? We cannot just punch in a couple of computer keys, and voila! Our "ap" tells us. The Holy Spirit does not host His own "ap". He is...
    "...living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb4:12)
The reader answered his own question:

"I say if it sounds like the world then it is worldly. If it sounds satanic it is satanic. If it moves the flesh and not the spirit it is of the flesh."

Exactly! -CONSCIENCE-

Interesting how that gal from the world recognized the world's music in the Calvary Chapel, but Christians don't recognize what is what. Perhaps that is because the "christians" are not "Christians". They are rutting around in their own muck.

Sorry to repeat this so often, but it is the definition of the spirit of the age, and of this question....

    "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them from their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree produces excellent fruit, but a corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree is not able to produce evil fruit, nor is a corrupt tree able to produce excellent fruit. Every tree that does not produce excellent fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore from their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many works of power in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work out lawlessness!" (Mt7:15-23)
And like was said to Daniel...
    "And none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand" (Da12:10b)
Amen!

[Top]


Return to: Q/A's