Volume. XXV, No. 10
Sunday, 05 September 2010


Worship Part 13


Those who oppose the use of any musical instruments in worship argue that there is no mention of the use of musical instruments for worship in the New Testament, and they also provide many examples from church history. Concerning the arguments from the New Testament, I must say it is not a good argument. In other words, if it is true that there is no command in the New Testament to use musical instruments for worship, it is also true that there is no command not to use them either. Thus, it does not appear to be a very good argument. In fact, the lack of forbidding musical instruments may bring a stronger case for their use in worship, as the Old Testament seems to approve them for worship. I am not going to discuss biblical silence on the matter at this stage. The second argument comes from church history. Let me give you a few quotes. I am sure that many of you have never heard the following statements.
 
Augustine said, “Musical instruments were not used. The pipe, tabret, and harp here associate so intimately with the sensual heathen cults, as well as with the wild revelries and shameless performances of the degenerate theater and circus, it is easy to understand the prejudices against their use in the worship” (describing the singing at Alexandria under Athanasius). Clement of Alexandria said, “Leave the pipe to the shepherd, the flute to the men who are in fear of gods and intent on their idol worshipping. Such musical instruments must be excluded from our wingless feasts, for they are more suited for beasts and for the class of men that is least capable of reason than for men. The Spirit, to purify the divine liturgy from any such unrestrained revelry chants: ‘Praise Him with sound of trumpet,’ for, in fact, at the sound of the trumpet the dead will rise again; praise Him with harp, ‘for the tongue is a harp of the Lord; and with the lute. praise Him’; understanding the mouth as a lute moved by the Spirit as the lute is by the plectrum; ‘praise Him with timbal and choir,’ that is, the Church awaiting the resurrection of the body in the flesh which is its echo; ‘praise Him with strings and organ,’ calling our bodies an organ and its sinews strings, for front them the body derives its Coordinated movement, and when touched by the Spirit, gives forth human sounds; ‘praise Him on high-sounding cymbals,’ which mean the tongue of the mouth which with the movement of the lips, produces words. . .” (The instructor, Fathers of the church, p. 130). What I have found from these quotes indicates that there are basically two reasons why early church fathers opposed the use of musical instruments: (1) They were somehow associated with pagan and heathen worship, and (2) man himself is considered as an instrument that brings praises to God. Thus, the use of voice is more appropriate than the use of musical instruments. Theodore Beza said, “If the apostle justly prohibits the use of unknown tongues in the church, much less would he have tolerated these artificial musical performances which are addressed to the ear alone, and seldom strike the understanding even of the performers themselves” (Girardeau\'s Instrumental Music, p. 166). Theodore Beza, who was a reformer and disciple of Calvin, opposed musical instruments because of two reasons: (1) It tickles the ears only, and (2) no understanding is necessary.
 
Joseph Bingham said, “Music in churches is as ancient as the apostles, but instrumental music not so . . . The use of the instrumental, indeed, is much ancienter, but not in church service. . . In the Western parts, the instrument, as not so much as known till the eighth century; for the first organ that was ever seen in France was one sent as a present to King Pepin by Constantinus Copronymus, the Greek emperor. . . But, now, it was only used in princes courts, and not yet brought into churches; nor was it ever received into the Greek churches, there being no mention of an organ in all their liturgies ancient or modern” (Works, London Edition. Vol. 11, p. 482-484). Adam Clarke, a Methodist theologian and Bible scholar, said, “I am an old man, and I here declare that I never knew them to be productive of any good in the worship of God, and have reason to believe that they are productive of much evil. Music as a science I esteem and admire, but instrumental music in the house of God I abominate and abhor. This is the abuse of music, and I here register my protest against all such corruption of the worship of the author of Christianity. The late . . . the Rev. John Wesley, who was a lover of music, and an elegant poet, when asked his opinion of instruments of music being introduced into the chapels of the Methodists, said in histerse and powerful manner, ‘I have no objections to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither heard nor seen.’ I say the same.” Lyman Coleman said, “The tendency of this (instrumental music) was to secularize the music of the church, and to encourage singing by a choir. Such musical accompaniments were gradually introduced; but they can hardly be assigned to a period earlier than the fifth and sixth centuries. Organs were unknown in church until the eighth or ninth centuries. Previous to this, they had their place in the theater, rather than in the church. They were never regarded with favor in the Eastern church, and were vehemently opposed in many places in the West” (Primitive Church, p. 376-377). All these quotes offer us at least two reasons for not using musical instruments: (1) Secularization of the church through music, and (2) the loss of sacredness of worship. Thus, the Eastern Church has never allowed musical instruments into her worship.
 
John Calvin said, “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law” (Commentary on Psalm 33). George Park Fisher said, “Church music, which at the outset consisted mainly of the singing of psalms, flourished especially in Syria and at Alexandria. The music was very simple in its character. There was some sort of alternate singing in the worship of Christians, as is described by Pliny. The introduction of antiphonal singing at Antioch is ascribed by tradition to Ignatius ... The primitive church music was choral and congregational” (History of the Christian Church, p. 65, 121). John Kurtz said, “At first the church music was simple, artless, recitative. But rivalry of heretics forced the Orthodox Church to pay greater attention to the requirements of art. Chrysostom had to declaim against the secularization of church music. More lasting was the opposition to the introduction of instrumental music” (Church History, Vol 1, p. 376). Waldo Selden Pratt said, “The First Christian Songs - Singing in public and private worship was a matter of course for the early Christians. For Jewish converts this was a continuance of synagogue customs, but since the Church grew mostly among non-Jews, the technical forms employed were more Greek than Hebrew. The use of instruments was long resisted, because of their association with pagan sensuality” (The History of Music, 1935, p. 64). Especially, Pratt’s comment over pagan sensuality associated with musical instruments is worth noting.
 
I have not listed all these examples from the opponents of the use of musical instruments because I think they are right or their views are biblically correct. I do believe there is a place for proper music and use of musical instruments in worship. However, there are two reasons why I’d like to review their views and arguments: (1) The opponents of musical instruments in worship are also the lovers of God. They are convinced that they should not use musical instruments, and they practice their conviction by faith for the glory of God; and (2) many of their reasons are reasonable and useful for our considerations. I am going to talk about it a bit more next week. In the meanwhile, I’d like to bring one more quote for your consideration. Charles Burney said, “. . . Before the reign of Constantine . . . the converts to the Christian religion were subject to frequent persecution and disturbance in their devotion, the rise of instruments could hardly have been allowed: and by all that can be collected from the writings of the primitive Christians, they seem never to have been admitted” (A General History of Music, 1957, p. 426). It is very natural that early Christian churches did not use musical instruments but their voices to sing. How could it be possible for them even to consider using instruments during the time of persecution?
 
Lovingly,
Your Senior Pastor Ki
 

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements
*Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Bro Cong Pham. Next Lord’s Day: Team Leader: Bro Lucas Yiew.
*Wishing all fathers, grandfathers & great grandfathers a Blessed Father’s Day.
*Bookshop Sale - 50% off all items - last day.
*Tentative dates for Missions to Batam & Bintan: 20-23 Jan 2011. If interested, please see Dn David Yeo.
*A diesel passenger van has been purchased for church use on Wed, 1 Sept, at SA Government Auction.
*Baby Shower for Sis Demelza Ting. Please bring a dish to share.
 
Looking Ahead
*Gospel Sunday, 12 Sept, at 7.30pm.
*Holy Baptism & The Lord’s Supper  on 19 Sept.
*BPNYC, 29 Nov - 3 Dec 2010
 
Praise & Thanksgiving
1. Journey mercies: Ps David & Sis Susan Weng & family (S’pore/Indonesia); Bros Raymond Chia (Adl), Paul Chung (Korea) & Frank Wong (Syd); Bro Samuel Kwan & Sis Sophine Bai (Adl); Sisters Marion Chan (S’pore/Myazaki) & Peng Ha Yeo (Syd/Adl) & others who have travelled.
2. Church activities - over the past week.
3. Much needed rain in the past few days.
4. Last Lord’s Day—Infant Baptism (Joash Ng, Joshua Weng & Stephen Wong); Ordination of new Session members & installation of 6th Session.
5. God’s provision of a new passenger van
6. Successful surgery—Bro Simon Yeo
 
Prayer Items
1. Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Dr SH Tow; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Jonathan Liao (Melb), Len Pearson, & Simon Yeo; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Lydia Fan, Myung Ki (UK), Choon Fong Lee (KL); Lehia Paauwe; Margaret Pearson, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; & others in affliction.
2. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & ministry (Phnom Penh & Kandal Province)
3. iSketch&Tell Studio - Pr H S Lim & his ministry.
4. IBPFM (USA) - Rev K Coleman, Board & missionaries around the world.
5. Ps & Sis Ki & ministry in Hope BPC.
6. Ps & Sis Weng - ministry in Hope BPC.
7. Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
8. Journey mercies: Ps David & Susan Weng & family (Indonesia/S’pore); Bro Samuel Kwan & Sis Sophine Bai (Melb/S’pore); Bro Peter Ting (while in S Africa) & all others who are travelling.
9. God’s comfort & strength: Sis Christabelle Selvanayagam, Bros Joseph & Christopher Selvanayagam & their families.
10. Job - Sisters Judy Li & Corinne Teng.
11. Good health in pregnancy - Sisters Myra Hornung & Demelza Ting. 
12. Interpreters translating English Sermons to Mandarin.
13. Year 12 Students: Sisters Jillian Chia & Shilsha Ninian.
14. God’s guidance & protection for Sis Marion Chan as she works in Myazaki, Japan.
15. Victims of floods in Pakistan, & mudslides in China. Those who lost their loved ones.
16. Post-surgery recovery & strength - Bro Simon Yeo
17. Speaker: Dn Edwin D’Mello on Gospel Sunday.
 
 

 

 

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