Encouraging a higher standard for Christian music

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Godly Music

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Here is another excellent article on Christian music written by Bob Jennings:

click link for PDF of this article: by Bob Jennings on 2013-01-12

Music is big in our world, both sacred and secular. It is big in importance; it is big in industry. We have a very musical world.

Music is a marvel often taken for granted. Cows can’t make music. Frogs and birds come closer. But man is musical.

Angels are musical, as it is written,

  • Job 38:7 The morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.

In Duncan Campbell’s account of the 1949 Hebrides Revival in the north of Scotland, there were two angelic visitations – singing. And the devil, the top angel, is musical, as it is written,

  • Isa 14:11 (NAS) Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol, and,
  • Eze28:13 (KJV), Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God … the workmanship of thy tamborines and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

The Lord Jesus is musical, as it is written,

  • Heb 2:12 in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise, and
  • Mat 26:30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

God Himself is musical, as it is written,

  • Zep 3:17 He will joy over you with singing.

He is the origin of music. There would be no music if not for the Creator. It is a marvelous gift.

But not all music is good. We should not be surprised, for, if angels can inspire doctrines (1Tim 4:1), surely they can inspire music. The devil takes what is good from God, and corrupts it. So, what makes good music?

I –Words are a very important element in good music

Words are important in God’s economy. One of the names of the Son of God is “the Word.” God has given us a book filled with words. God has chosen preaching, and what is it but words?

Understandability

If musicians could only understand that their words must be understood. It is rare to hear a soloist that can be understood. Most music on the radio, whether secular or sacred, cannot be easily understood. I’ve been to concerts where I could not understand 90% of the singing or preaching. It is barbarianism, as it is written,

  • 1Cor 14:11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me.

The point of music is not that you have music and you want to adorn it with words, but rather that you have a message and want to adorn it with music. If the musician can’t get his message across by turning the music down or voice up, then how will the church be edified? How will another say “amen”, as it is written,

  • 1Cor 14:16 … how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?

Blurriness in speech is likely a mark of the spiritual condition of the nation. Mushy theology produces mushy speech, and much of our music is slurry, wimpy, and whiny rather than bright, cheerful, bold, and straight-forward. But it is not humble to mumble. Rather clarity is a service to the listener.

Content

The content of the words makes for good music. Often Christian music is experience-centered, man-centered, and self-centered – ‘give me, give me’. The content is inferior, lacking sublimity, magnificence, glory, weight, beauty, skill, and theology. The word of Christ is not “rich” in many songs, as it is written,

  • Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … singing.

What makes good music? Words. Words that are understandable, and words that are rich in truth.

II –The music itself, the tune can make for good music

Is there such a thing as a good tune? That is, apart from the words, apart from the listener’s connotative associations and memories, apart from the musician’s spiritual state, can a given tune be good or bad?

First, let’s forget the good or bad aspect and try to demonstrate that music can communicate, that is, it can give off a message. The Lord Jesus teaches this in

  • Mat 11:17 We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.

A given tune was expected to produce a certain effect.

There are three elements that determine the quality of a piece of music – the notes, the rhythm, and the volume.

Notes

Granted individual notes are neutral. Like bullets, notes are neutral in themselves; it is only a matter of what is done with them. Or, like letters of the alphabet, they are neutral; it is only a matter of how they are put together. Play the chord CEG on the piano. Now move one finger and play CEF. It is quite a different effect, a different mood. The first is resolution and rest. The second is tension. The first is pleasant and the second is discord. You don’t need to know a thing about music to feel that. There is an inherent message in the sound. An ambulance siren does not need an interpreter. When watching a movie, it is easy to tell by the music that danger is approaching before ever it is seen on the screen. The point? Music by itself communicates by way of the notation.

Rhythm

The beat, that is, how long notes are played makes music speak. Take two hymns, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and, My Faith Has Found a Resting Place. They are similar in content, but due to the different rhythms, one is lively, and even lends itself to clapping, whereas the second calls for resignation. The composer uses staccato for a reason. Even accent in our speech gives out a message. One might say, “I can tell by the way you said that, you are angry.” Tribal musicians work warriors into a murderous frenzy with drums alone. The drums of a marching band can make the hair stand up on the back of your head with a sense of foreboding power and aggression. Someone observed, beat is needed, but, like heart beat, too much means trouble.

Volume

How loudly notes are played makes music speak. Composers put crescendos in there for a reason. Seventy-six blaring trombones give off quite a different effect than just one playing the same thing softly. Contrast the delicacy of an instrumental quartet with the swelling tide of a philharmonic orchestra or the scream of a rock band. Musicians know volume communicates and they use that plaintive softness or threatening loudness.

A Powerful Medium

Musicians know music is a powerful medium and intend to communicate by music. You would insult a musician if you told him after the concert that his music did not move you. Dr. Max Schoen in his Psychology of Music says,

“Music is the most powerful stimulus known among the perceptive senses.”

Saxophonist Clarence Clemons summed up his new instrumental CD, Peacemaker, this way, “I said what I wanted to say.” Instrumental! The high school pep band expects (obvious by the name) to give off a different message than the chamber band at baccalaureate. The US military used music to drive Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega out of his stronghold. Advertising companies spend big money researching the effects of music. A tune can make words stick in the mind for days. What was so great about the Beatles’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand? It was not the words. Texas barrelhouse piano player Robert Shaw boasted he could throw his hands on the keyboard and make the audience move the way he wanted. In 1913 Igor Stravinsky produced a classical instrumental, The Rite of Spring, specifically to create chaos. At the first concert a mass riot occurred and the theater seats were torn up. My wife and I both witnessed our oldest two children each at age two go into the appropriate dance when a piece of music came on the radio. They could not have learned the dance; moreover they had never seen it.

Jimi Hendrix said,

“Atmospheres are going to come through music, because music is a spiritual thing of its own.”

He boasted he could hypnotize people with music. Another rock star says, “Don’t listen to the words; it’s the music that has its own message … I’ve been stoned on the music many times.”
The preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

“We can become drunk on music. There’s no question about that. It can create emotional state in which the mind no longer functions as it should be and no longer discriminates. I have known people to sing themselves into a state of intoxication without realizing what they were doing.”

The medical, psychological and other evidence for the non-neutrality of music is so overwhelming, that it is amazing that anyone would seriously say otherwise. Music is never neutral. Words say more, but in varying degrees it will speak.

If music then does give off a message, it easily follows that a given piece of music can be good or bad. That is, music can indeed communicate a message that fits Christianity or does not. It can minister an attitude, stir a mood, create an atmosphere, and make an effect that will express a worldview – either Christian or not. Just as words can rightly or wrongly represent Christianity, so also does music.

Underlying Principles for Discerning

How can we judge music? Here are some Biblical guidelines, some underlying principles that can be applied.

Is the music proper; is it fitting? Certain things are fitting among the saints. Some things are appropriate; some are not.

  • Eph 5:3 as is proper (fitting) among saints.
  • Php 1:27 conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Just as a suit and tie is not fitting for digging ditches, so we should analyze what conduct is fitting for saints (holy ones). Does this piece of music fit a Christian worldview? One Christian artist says, “Here’s a sound your parents will hate.

Is the music peaceful and restful?

  • 1Cor 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.

Lively music is fine, but screaming, harsh, driving, pounding music is another thing.
Dave Roberts, a columnist for the CCM magazine Buzz says,

“Heavy rock is body music designed to by-pass the brain and with unrelenting brutality induce a frenzied state among the audience.”

Is the music humble?

  • Mat 11:28 I am meek and lowly of heart.

Does the music minister submission to the King of kings or does it speak aggression and rebellion? Does it call for surrender to the Majesty on high or is it pushy, daring, and lawless? Does it make you feel like a tough-guy? It is unseemly to have a singer snarl out a commitment to Christ.

Is the music melodious?

  • Eph 5:18 singing and making melody in your hearts.

Is the music melodious, bright, cheerful, hopeful, and bold, or is it wimpy, whiny, slurry, and lacking resolution after tension? David made sweet music (2Sam 23:1). The music of heaven is sweet, like harps (Rev 14:2). The harsh, strident, distorted, nasty music does not fit Christianity. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says, “It’s a noise we make. That’s all. You could be kind and call it music.”

Is music ordered?

1Cor 14:40 all things be done decently and in order.

Is the music ordered or is it chaotic? Some is so unordered that it does not make for congregational singing. It does not fit among the saints.

Is the music sensual or is it spiritual?

  • James 3:15 this wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

Does the music tempt me to move my body in sensual way or does it remind me I am not a debtor to the flesh, to live after the flesh (Rom 8:12)?

Is there such a thing as a sensual song? We could cite many men of God who would affirm it, but maybe they are biased, old-fashioned, and narrow-minded. If we won’t receive the counsel of godly, then listen to the ungodly. What do the rock stars themselves say?

  • Sex and Rock go together like wheels on a car.
  • Rock music is sex and you have to hit teens in the face with it.
  • The purpose of rhythm is to get into an orgiastic state of losing yourself.

And their bold testimonies continue …

  • Rock has always been the devil’s music and you can’t convince me that it isn’t.
  • Rock and Roll doesn’t glorify God. I was one of the pioneers of that music, one of the builders. I know what the blocks are made of because I built them.
  • Rock is the perfect primal method of releasing our violent instincts. He calls his music Combat Rock and speaks of raping his audience.
  • We communicate aggression and frustration to an audience, musically and visually.
  • Rock and Roll brings out violent emotions.
  • I am sorry that I was involved in the beginnings of Rock and Roll. It has helped to destroy untold millions of young people the world over.
  • If I told you what our music is really about, we’d probably all get arrested.
  • When performing I don’t know who I am. If someone walked on the stage I’d probably kill. We wanted to blow their minds with our music.


III –The Musicians Themselves Should be Considered

Ironically and admittedly good people can make bad music and conversely, bad people can make good music. But God is nevertheless concerned about who is carrying the ark (2Sam 6:3f). He does not need a demonized girl to preach even if she is preaching truth (Acts 16:16).

The Bible is replete with warnings against false leaders, hypocrites: Mat 7, Acts 20, Rom 16, Gal 1, Eph 4, Php 3, 2Cor 11, 1Tim 4, 2Tim 3, 2Pet 2, 1Jn 4, and Jude. False leaders are many, as it is written,

  • 2Cor 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

We are to beware of evil workers (Php 3:2). We don’t want to endorse an unregenerate piper, pastor, music leader, or piano player.

False ministers are peddlers of the word.

  • 2Cor 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

They are merchandisers, concert-hopping, money-loving, fame-promoting, compromising entertainers. It is a modern manifestation of the sins of Jeroboam (1Kg 12:30, 14:16) – do anything to get the people. They are crowd manipulators, skilled at working the crowd up into a high –high places that should be torn down.

  • 2Chr 15:17 the high places were not taken away.

The world does it better. Let them do it. Was the past not enough for us?

They are not sincere, but are show-offs.

  • 2Cor 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

They are not worship leaders but performers, pretending some sensual ecstasy with their eyes closed, breathing out their breathy lyrics with the mic at their mouth. Are they servants or stars? Are they gathering followers for Christ or fans for themselves? As someone observed, they are not saying, “Behold the Lamb”, but they are saying, “Behold me saying, ‘Behold the Lamb.’” Some admit they intend to entertain. Some get the girls to scream at them. It is a fair show in the flesh. It is strange fire (Lev 10:1). And there is this continual attempt to say it ‘cool’, to be a ‘character’, to be cute, clever, and even goofy. But buffoonery and cleverness nullify the cross, as it is written,

  • 1Cor 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

One band, speaking of the resurrection of Christ, says, “You can’t keep a good man down.” It is cheap blasphemy. What happened to simple sobriety and sincerity? How different these men are from the gravity characterizing men of God. How different from the fearful atmosphere of the great revivals when God was present in a manifest way? How different from Paul the apostle, as it is written,

  • 1Cor 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
  • Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul’s ministry was in the sight of God.

  • 2Cor 2:17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.

He was God-centered, God-fearing. They are afraid to be different from the world and are ashamed of Christ. One Christian artist mentions the name of the Lord Jesus once in nine songs. Some musicians are so vague that it is not possible to distinguish if they are singing about some lover or about Christ. No wonder they are sponsored by beer companies.

Now, it must be admitted that there are gray areas in music. It is an art, not a hard science like math, though God has more math in it than most realize. Each song must be analyzed. And, as we go on in the Christian walk, our tastes and choices are purified. We grow. This is the way of grace. There is much to learn.

  • Psa 119:7 I will give thanks to You with uprightness of heart when I learn Your righteous judgments.
  • Php 1:9, 10 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.

Again, behold the power of good music. When Paul and Silas sang, the earth shook and the jail rattled (Acts 16). When Jehoshaphat went out to battle, he put the singers in front of the army and God set up ambushments (2Chr 20:22). David’s harp drove off evil spirits (1Sam 16:23). When Elisha called for the minstrel, it invoked the hand of God and a spirit of prophecy (2Kg 3:15). Good music pleases God, as it is written,

  • Psa 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song … it shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that has horns and hoofs.

Glory

GLORY IS A SPECIAL WORD IN SCRIPTURE—
a word infused with the essence of God himself. It appears (along with its cognates) over 500 times in Scripture. One verse in particular is of great significance to us:

Psalm 66:2:

Sing out to the honor of his name;

make his praise glorious

In this verse, the psalmist (King David) exclaims with strength and power, “Sing out to the honor of His name“. The psalmist then follows this declamatory proclamation with an even stronger assertion:

Make His praise glorious!

There is to be nothing ordinary about this praise, it is to be of the highest order and of the greatest magnitude.
To create a powerful platform for praise, God inspired King David to marshal a corps of 4,000 professional musicians who were spiritually prepared, skillfully trained, highly organized and spent their lives giving praise to God.
The musicians were organized under three men of God (Levites) who carefully crafted their worship in a musically and theologically acceptable manner. (See 1 Chronicles 23 and 25.) David and his musicians would take no chances that their musical sacrifice of praise would be presented in a frivolous or careless way. This was music that was to exalt “the honor of His name and make His praise glorious!”

The result:

a spiritual environment

that brought this high worship of God

to the Israelites

in a way that united the best of music and poetry.

In Scripture, it’s important to note that glory is not only an attribute, it is an actual place: Glory…heaven, the dwelling place of God.
In looking forward to “glory”, Jonathan Edwards made this observation:

“If praising God in song is very much the employment of heaven…let all be exhorted to the work and duty of praising God [here on earth.]
(See: “Thankgsgiving Sermon”, 1734)

Note the reformer’s words regarding the use of music as a “work” and a “duty”. Like David’s original musical organization, music in heaven will be a joyous fulltime occupation infused with His glory, majesty and greatness!
For twenty-first century Christians this must all seem strange, having been persuaded by their culture that music:

a. exists for their own personal pleasure.
b. is all good–style is relative!
c. can be utilized for any purpose.

Today, begin your preparation for glory right now — forget popular culture and sing in the great tradition of King David and his spectacular choir of Levite musicians. Sing — and then memorize — a great hymn of the faith! You’ll be glad you did! To God be the Glory!

–Center for Church Music

What is Worship?

This video illustrates some very important points about worship, and what we perceive worship to be. Someone could close their eyes, half-heartedly listen to the words and “feel” the “spirit”..

We must be very careful that our worship is not just some kind of feel-good manifestation of the flesh or even our human spirit, but rather our whole being yielded to Christ for His Glory.

Sometimes when we worship, we don’t really mean it. What would it look like if we were to sing what we really meant? This was an illustration from a sermon about worship at First Orlando Worship, and it struck a chord.

 

GOD WANTS TO BE EDIFIED HIMSELF. AND WE’RE TO NOT SEEK SELF-EDIFICATION, BUT TO EDIFY GOD WITH ALL WE DO. SO IF YOU SEE A PERSON WITH A GREAT GIFT, TRYING TO DO SOMETHING TO GLORIFY THEMSELVES, YOUR OWN DISCERNMENT OF THE SPIRIT TELLS YOU THAT’S WRONG.                                 ~ WILLIAM BRANHAM

 

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.” – William Temple

12 Keys in Our Choice of Music

Music choice is important. But how are we to evaluate the music in our lives? Here are twelve major principles, based on the Word of God, which can help us, as Christians, to do so. They can be applied to any music, but they are worth considering in relation to the music we use in the services of the church, both what is presented from the platform, and what is sung by the congregation.

1. HUMILITY. In the complexities of understanding and evaluating music, none of us has all the answers (cf. Rom. 12:3, 10; 14:1).

2.UNIQUENESS. We are each different as to the music in our lives, and with respect to how it affects us (cf. Rom. 12:3-6a; I Cor. 12:14, 27).

3. INTEGRATION. Earthly things can have a valid place in our Christian lives, as we assess them biblically and use them wisely (cf. I Cor. 7:31; I Tim. 6:17b).

4. ORIGIN. The source of a piece of music can affect it in significant ways (cf. Prov. 15:2, 28; Lk. 6:45).

5. TRADITION. The wise person appreciates the heritage of the past and will continue to employ it and be enriched by it (cf. Deut. 32:7; Jer. 6:16; contrast Acts 17:21).

6. PURPOSE. The purpose of the musician and of his music will influence how it is used, and therefore how it affects us (cf. I Cor. 9:25; 10:31; contrast Phil. 3:18-19).

7. BALANCE. Music with its various elements in balance reflects the nature of God and accomplishes the purposes of God (cf. I Cor. 14:33, 40; Tit. 1:5a).

Such elements include: melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo, and dynamics. If there are lyrics, the music should serve as an appropriate vehicle to enhance their message.

8. SEPARATION. We must not, with our music, encourage or glorify that attachment to this sinful world that God hates (cf. II Cor. 6:14-17; I Jn. 2:15-17).

9. ASSOCIATION. Communication problems arise if the music accompanying a Christian message is associated in the mind of the hearer with a corrupt and sinful lifestyle (cf. I Cor. 8:4, 7; 14:8; 15:33).

10. EFFECT. Music is a medium of expression (in a sense, a language) which can communicate with powerful effect (cf. I Sam. 16:23; Col. 3:16; and see Gal. 6:7).

11. MESSAGE. The message a song delivers depends upon several components working effectively together:

Words + Music + Performance + Musician’s known lifestyle + Social context = the Total Message of a Song (cf. Ps. 139:15-16; I Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:16).

12. RESPONSIBILITY. Music is a stewardship from God that we are responsible to use according to His will and purpose (cf. Deut. 12:29-31; Lk. 16:15; and see Est. 4:14; Acts 13:36).

Editor’s note – This article was written and originally published by Robert Cottrill the editor of http://www.wordwisehymns.com.

~ Chapter 4 ~ Music – The Sound and the Unsound

“A THOUGHT-PROVOKING LOOK AT HUMANITY’S MOST INFLUENTIAL FORM OF EXPRESSION, MUSIC  – THE SOUND AND THE UNSOUND

MUSIC

THE SOUND

AND THE

UNSOUND

C H A P T E R  F O U R

SPIRITUAL ROOTS

“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.” Ephesians 5:19

For three centuries, a flood of humanity poured into the New World. The willing came from Europe; the unwilling came from Africa. They were master and slave, and nothing has ever exacted such a heavy price on the conscience of a nation as the institution of slavery in America. But from the agony and suffering of the black captives was generated a heroic faith that, over the years, was given a voice that would echo across the land for all generations to come. To the slaves they were known as  ‘sorrow songs,’ or ‘anthems,’  but within white communities they came to be called  ‘spirituals,’  and in them America found its truest, most original, and most influential musical expression.

In the plantation states of the south, newly arriving slaves were expected to learn English and to adopt the professed religion of their owners. But the emotional and mystical ways of heathen, tribal worship could never be replaced by the bone-dry traditions of European faith. And neither could the rhythms, chants, and tribal stomps of the African culture be confined by the structured singing of psalms and hymns . “The spirit will not descend without a song,” was a saying the slaves carried with them from the motherland, and it was in music that the brutalized Negro found a means of liberation.

The enslaved people found much within the Judeo-Christian tradition to identify with and anchor their hope: The Hebrews’  four centuries of bondage in Egypt; the Israelites’ captivity in Babylon; Daniel in the lions’ den; and Elijah ’s journey to Heaven in a fiery chariot. They learned the hymns of their white masters then rewove them with the remnants of their African history to produce expressions of freedom through song that became the focus of both their spiritual and social life.

The majority of the slaves worked under the overseer’s lash, cultivating the cotton and rice that were the mainstay of southern industry. Often they were forbidden to speak to one another while working in the fields, but since their fieldwork required unified effort, they were allowed to utilize the African tradition of worksongs to coordinate their activities. These creative leader-and-chorus rounds were sung with so much musical mastery that they defied notation. Often the song was fashioned by combining verses from the Bible with portions of hymns, sermons or prayers they had heard in church. But in the fields there was also every opportunity to invent new songs and tunes, drawing from their new found faith in a Christian God who could not only break their bonds of sin and suffering, but offered Heaven as a homeland. Best of all, He wasn’t confined to a white church, nor did He negate the humanity of the black man. They heard a promise of freedom, and they made it the theme of their songs.

God told Moses, o’Lord!

Go down into Egypt, o’Lord!

Tell ol’ Pharaoh, o’Lord!

Loose my people, o’Lord!

In 1735 an English clergyman by the name of John Wesley sailed for the New World to proselytize the heathen Indians in the colony of Georgia. After three years, he acknowledged his failure as a missionary and returned to London, determined to find the missing element in his spiritual walk. Then one day, as he listened to a reading of Martin Luther’s preface to Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, he felt that his “heart was strangely warmed,” and a new dispensation of the church was ushered in.

Nowhere did they embrace the new tenets of a faith that was being called ‘Methodism’ more rapidly than they did in the colonies of the New World. Wesley’s teaching of a Second Blessing (also termed Christian Perfection or Sanctification) was “the fuse that set off a keg of repressed religious ecstasy throughout America.”14 Stoking the fires of the revival that came to be known as The Great Awakening was Methodist evangelist George Whitefield and other circuit-riding preachers who traveled endlessly throughout the colonies expounding the doctrine of absolute holiness and attainable perfection. Their preaching style was bold and dramatic, which gave them limited access to the pulpits of the more traditional churches, so they resorted to preaching outdoors. Camp meetings (or bush meetings, as they were sometimes called) changed the structure of worship services for most rural churches in the young nation.  ‘Fire and damnation’ preaching encouraged a new freedom of expression for the believers. They shouted, they prayed, they danced, and they sang like never before.

Once again, religious revival was accompanied by a stirring of the musical waters. Like Luther, Wesley was a songwriter and publisher. His first hymnal, The Charleston Collection of Psalms and Hymns, published in 1735, was the first hymnbook ever published in North America. Wesley’s greatest concern was that singing should be both spiritual and have good musical quality. His instructions to the congregation included admonishments to “ Sing All, Sing Lustily, Sing Modestly, Sing in Time and above all, Sing Spiritually.”15 And it was in the unstructured style of the frontier camp meeting that spiritual singing came of age.

Long before blacks themselves were admitted to white society, they shared a lively, if somewhat uncomfortable, coexistence that was brought about through the cohesive forces of shared religion and music. Along with the increasing number of traditional hymns which were being penned by proficient songwriters such as Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts, Negro spirituals were becoming a major part of the huge revivals and camp meetings of the 1800s. Here the spirit and personality of the black world was not segregated from the white culture. Although white and black worshippers were normally kept separate, “their voices and music could mix, echoing from camp to camp, feeding a musical union whose product would sweep the world.”16 One observer at an early camp meeting wrote:  “As the excitement increases, all order is forgotten, all unison of parts repudiated, each sings his own tune, each dances his own dance, as he leaps, shouts and exults with exceeding great joy.”

They had found something real, and it was a revelation inspired by a new understanding of Scriptural truth. And that, in turn, generated a new brotherhood of holiness and sanctified churches – forerunners of the twentieth century Pentecostal Revival that was to explode on Azusa Street in 1906.

But not every abused and humiliated black man found solace in Christianity. There was just too much magic in the  ‘old ways’  that wasn’t compatible with the new-found faith, so the old faith endured, hidden until the late nineteenth century and the period of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War. Then, a new branch appeared on music’s family tree, and it was called ‘The Blues.’

Although it descended directly from the emotional fervor of the spirituals, the only thing the blues had in common with its spirit-pleasing parent was its ancient roots. Every type of carnal indulgence became the theme of the blues singer: Crime, adultery, prostitution, gambling, alcohol, and imprisonment. Ties with the African elements of syncopation and rhythmic momentum were renewed, taught, and performed by both black men and white men who had listened and learned from this new musical voice. “It is here that the blend of cultures once again began to generate something permanent and prophetic, a rhythmic vitality and melodic gift that would eventually produce ragtime and jazz.”1

Coinciding with the beginnings of blues, ragtime, and jazz, religious music was also undergoing a metamorphosis. In 1875, songwriter Ira Sankey published a hymnbook entitled Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs and the term ‘gospel music’ was born. Sankey and his partner, the revivalist Dwight Lyman Moody, intended for their songs  “to implant the gospel in the hearts of the people”18 by suppressing emotional outbursts and passionate singing.

But, while Sankey and Moody were able to influence their initial development, gospel songs soon developed a character of their own, and this time it was  “a coolly calculated commercial endeavor designed to capitalize on the enormous appeal of the Negro spiritual stylings.”19

In 1921, a young blues and jazz piano player by the name of Thomas Dorsey attended the National Baptist Convention and was overwhelmed by the force of the music he heard being performed. For “Barrelhouse Tom,” it was the handwriting on the wall. He would write religious music, and he would call his songs ‘Gospel.’

Dorsey wrote over a thousand tunes, including  “Peace In The Valley”, “Search Me Lord,” and “Precious Lord Take My Hand.”  “It was music that not only reflected the preaching and testifying heard in black Baptist and Methodist churches as well as the growing number of  ‘sanctified’ congregations across the country. It also made brilliant and liberal use of the melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of Dorsey’s blues and jazz background.”20

Touring the Midwest and South in the late 1920s, he performed his music and sold the sheet music for a few pennies apiece. But Dorsey’s voice lacked the conviction and excitement that was necessary for gospel singing, and he knew that if he was going to succeed he needed a new sales technique. He created the first female gospel quartet in history, and soon became a promoter of gospel performers as well as a publisher of black gospel music. He was well on his way to earning for himself the title “Father of Gospel Music.”

By the mid-thirties, several styles of gospel music were being popularized on the church and revival concert circuit. One of the most enduring was the gospel quartet – four or five singers who established their identity through vocal stylizing (such as a featured bass or falsetto) or through dress (porter’s uniforms, white tuxedos, etc). There was also the ‘gospel chorus’ of all-female hand clappers, dressed in choir robes and backed by a thundering piano or organ. And soon the professional gospel artists, such as Mahalia Jackson and Rosetta Tharpe began to make a name for themselves.

By the beginning of  World War II, the careful repackaging of slave spirituals was complete. This new image of  ’gospel music’  had been sprinkled liberally with the glitter of  Hollywood and parlayed into a powerful and wealthy musical empire.

Editors note:
Taken from the magazine ONLY BELIEVE (no longer in publication). The regression of music amongst our churches is a cancer which, if not properly dealt with, will suck the true Life out of The Church. This downward spiral is caused by a lack of discernment and a general lowering of standards by a generation wanting something new and different rather than stand fast, and hold to what is tried and true, proven, and right. Many have failed to heed the warning expressed in this article. Innumerable groups, bands, and various musical artists spawned forth since Brother and Sister Smith published this article in December 1991, [Vol. 4, No 3].  No doubt the Christian artists she names here gave birth to groups like: MercyMe,KutlessNewSongSidewalk prophets The David Crowder band,Casting CrownsJeremy Camp, and Third Day to name a few. If Brother Branham called people like Pat Boone, modern day Judases, obviously these are too. What kind of person feeds off these groups, and promotes their demonic inspired lyrics and music within our churches? I pray this article will help someone. (the pictures are mine) – [DM – discerningMusic]

~ Chapter 2 ~ Music – The Sound and the Unsound


“A thought-provoking look at humanity’s most influential form of expression, MUSIC  – The Sound and the Unsound

Music

THE SOUND

AND THE

UNSOUND

 

C H A P T E R  T W O

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES US ABOUT MUSIC

“A human has to worship. You have to worship something. It’s just in you to worship.” 6

The Bible tells us that the Lord finds pleasure in the praises of His people. There are over 500 specific references in the Bible to music and musical instruments7 – evidence that this is not a subject that God treats lightly. As a matter of fact, the lengthiest book in the Bible is a song book, and it is here that God demonstrates His concern for the kind of music that His children enjoy and perform by providing this example for us to follow:  The Book of Psalms.

The collection of 150 poems that make up the Book of Psalms mirrors the ideals of religious piety and communion with God. They were written by David, Moses (Psalm 90), Solomon,Asaph (David’s choir leader), the sons of Korah (a family of official musicians), and others, for the express purpose of being set to music for worship. They even include musical notations to indicate when key changes are to be made. For example, the instruction selah, meaning “to modulate to the next key,” appears 71 times in the Book of Psalms and is not normally articulated when Scripture is being read aloud.

From the Hebrew language, Psalms translates as “Book of Praise.”  This was the prayer book that our Lord Jesus used in the synagogue service, and it was His hymn book at the Temple  festival. He used it in His teaching, met temptation with it, sang the Hallel (Psalms 115-118) from it after the Last Supper, quoted from it as He hung on the cross, and died with it on His lips.8 The Book of Psalms remains the national hymn book of Israel today.

Far from advocating a single style, Psalms range from the classical presentations, written for the temple musicians, to the simple but expressive ballads, which David composed while tending his sheep. In the Book of Psalms you will find rally songs, marching songs, victory songs, and teaching songs; there are songs of repentance, lamentation, petition, praise, renewal, and thanksgiving; there are songs for saints and songs for sinners.

The Book of Psalms has been called the door into the temple of praise and prayer, and in all ages and in more than a thousand languages, the church has found through the Psalter a means of access to God.

The Bible also shows us that man has long been aware of the effect of music upon our daily existence and its power to influence people both physically and emotionally.

In I Samuel 16:14-23, Scriptures relate an example of how a man was made well – body, soul, and spirit – through the music of a young shepherd boy.

“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed[physical], and was well[mental], and the evil spirit departed from him[spiritual].”

In II Kings 3:15 we learn that the prophet Elisha once used music to create an atmosphere so that he could “inquire of the Lord” for the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom.

“But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.”

As the tribes of Israel were set to war against their enemies, II Chronicles 20:21-22tells us that they put a choir and musical instruments in front of the army.

“…he[Jehoshaphat] appointed singers unto the Lord, that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.

And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.”

In the New Testament Book of Acts, chapter 16, we find the account of two early Christian leaders, Paul and Silas, who were cast into prison for preaching the Gospel. They used the opportunity to minister, through song, and glorify God.

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed,and sang praises unto God: the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. ”

Now, let’s review what we have just learned from these Biblical passages:

  1. In both the Old and the New Testament, music was vital to the life of the believer, both as an expression of joy and as an act of obedience unto God;
  2. God has given us instruction (by way of examples) as to the kinds of music that He wants His people to have;
  3. Far from being merely a neutral recreation, music has the power to influence us mentally, physically, and spiritually;
  4. There are certain types of music which can make demons feel very uncomfortable; and
  5. Music can create an atmosphere wherein God can work miracles.

Taken from the magazine ONLY BELIEVE (no longer in publication). The regression of music amongst our churches is a cancer which, if not properly dealt with, will suck the true Life out of The Church. This downward spiral is caused by a lack of discernment and a general lowering of standards by a generation wanting something new and different rather than stand fast, and hold to what is tried and true, proven, and right. Many have failed to heed the warning expressed in this article. Innumerable groups, bands, and various musical artists spawned forth since Brother and Sister Smith published this article in December 1991, [Vol. 4, No 3].  No doubt the Christian artists she names here gave birth to groups like: MercyMe,KutlessNewSongSidewalk prophets The David Crowder band,Casting CrownsJeremy Camp, and Third Day to name a few. If Brother Branham called people like Pat Boone, modern day Judases, obviously these are too. What kind of person feeds off these groups, and promotes their demonic inspired lyrics and music within our churches? I pray this article will help someone. (the pictures are mine) – [DM- Editor discerningMusic]

~ Chapter 1 ~ Music – The Sound and the Unsound


“A thought-provoking look at humanity’s most influential form of expression, MUSIC  – The Sound and the Unsound

Music

THE SOUND

AND THE

UNSOUND

C H A P T E R  O N E

ORIGINS

“One night I was standing with Brother Wood and Brother Sothmann, and I was looking up towards the skies. A great awe came over me, and I said, “Just look at all that great heavenly host, and everything is perfectly in harmony!“3

Harmony belongs to Jehovah, for in it He reveals both His nature (character) and relationship with His creation. As the Eternal One, He established the boundaries of a harmonious universe, joining the stars and the spheres in perfect concord with the voices of all heavenly beings. He blended the melodies of life and the rhythms of nature into an echoing chorus. Upon witnessing His handiwork, “… the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7.  His overture was being played; the Creator was worshipped by His creation, and worship brought God on the scene.

To praise God is the highest function that any creature can perform. Every living thing is enjoined to rejoice in God’s works, to make a joyful noise, sing, and perform music, which glorifies the Almighty. In eternity past, heavenly music was a duty of the anointed cherub, a being with expressed musical ability from the day of his creation (Ezekiel 28:13.15). He was perfect in all his ways, and possessed both beauty and wisdom, attributes which, by his own reasoning, made him equal to God. Thus, he desired to be worshiped equally with God – a false ambition that brought iniquity into God’s abode – and for this he was cast from Heaven’s holy mountain.

“The first battle that was ever fought began in Heaven when Michael and his Angels fought against Lucifer[Satan] and his angels. Sin did not originate on earth, it originated in Heaven, and then it was thrown down from Heaven – cast out of Heaven to the earth – and fell on human beings.”4

From his earthly refuge, this fallen angel designed a subtle yet clever plan to corrupt God’s paradise and establish his own kingdom in its place. He could not create, but he could pervert. “ What God had created for Himself, Satan came to destroy. Then the battle began here on earth, and it began in us. And it’s been raging ever since.”5

With great skill Satan began to flaunt sensuality as a substitute for spirituality; he elevated knowledge above revelation; he equated holiness with physical beauty.  Every ability he possessed he applied to one purpose and for one goal – the seduction of human souls. What were the tools of his trade?  Melody and rhythm, for Satan was a gifted musician.

Taken from the magazine ONLY BELIEVE (no longer in publication). The regression of music amongst our churches is a cancer which, if not properly dealt with, will suck the true Life out of The Church. This downward spiral is caused by a lack of discernment and a general lowering of standards by a generation wanting something new and different rather than stand fast, and hold to what is tried and true, proven, and right. Many have failed to heed the warning expressed in this article. Innumerable groups, bands, and various musical artists spawned forth since Brother and Sister Smith published this article in December 1991, [Vol. 4, No 3].  No doubt the Christian artists she names here gave birth to groups like: MercyMe,KutlessNewSongSidewalk prophets The David Crowder band,Casting CrownsJeremy Camp, and Third Day to name a few. If Brother Branham called people like Pat Boone, modern day Judases, obviously these are too. What kind of person feeds off these groups, and promotes their demonic inspired lyrics and music within our churches? I pray this article will help someone. (the pictures are mine) – [DM – editor discerningMusic]

Worse and worse

This is a repost of an article from Mr. Cottrills site linked at the end of this article.

POPULAR MUSIC TODAY

(A Flood of Degrading Music)

These comments relate to a blog posted by my son Jim, in which he discussed the immoral nature of much of the pop music being listened to in Mexico, where he and his wife Shari serve as missionaries. It was a revealing analysis. And from my awareness of the United States and Canada, I’d say that our popular music is at least as bad, possibly worse. Day by day it seems to reach new lows in vulgarity and the glorification of immorality.

Being an old guy, I can remember the early days of television in the 1950’s. I vividly recall a performer being caught be surprise–a sudden fright–and using (I think) the words “O my God!”–then, apologizing to the viewing audience for her improper language! Now…! (Need I say more?)

And I can remember the fuss made about Elvis Presley. On television, on at least one occasion, only his face and upper body were allowed on camera, because his sensual wiggle was considered indecent. Now, many laugh at how “narrow” we were in those days, and how harmless it all was. But, of course, it wasn’t.

The Bible says, “In the last days perilous times will come. For men [i.e. human beings] will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God….Evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:1-4, 13). I could hardly come up with a better description of today’s pop music scene!

The Greek for “worse and worse” is, literally, advance in the direction of worse! And this continuing degradation of sinners in the last days will be accompanied by self deception. “Professing themselves to be wise, they [become] fools” (Rom. 1:22). And they will deceive many others with their cunning arguments, leading them further astray.

There is a fallacious argument you perhaps have heard: that history is cyclical, rather than linear. That similar things keep happening again and again. That is true to some extent, but with important reservations. If something was condemned as bad a century ago, and it’s now considered acceptable, does that mean that something condemned ten years ago and now accepted is precisely the same thing? No, it doesn’t.

We are reminded that, in the nineteenth century, many felt that waltzes were immoral. Now, hardly anyone thinks that. In the mid-twentieth century, Elvis and his ilk were labeled the same way. Now, they’re fine with most folks. Today, some make a fuss about contemporary pop music, but soon it too will be broadly accepted. Supposedly, it’s all the same, round and round. The problem with that argument is that it’s not true.

History does not simply repeat itself over and over. The “worse and worse” of Paul’s warning to Timothy is coming to pass. If there is a repetitious cycle at work, it can more accurately be described as a downward spiral. That is how the world, the flesh and the devil conspire to drive society ever downward (cf. Jer. 26; 16:12; Ezek. 16:47; Hos. 13:2).

In practical terms, something happened in the 1950’s with the early rockers that had never happened before. The new music was marketed to teens as uniquely their own music. Before that, popular music was much more cross-generational. But for the past 60 years young people have been fed a most seductive line of propaganda: “This is yours; you need this. Don’t let the adults take it away from you. They don’t really understand you.”

There are echoes here of the devil’s lie in Eden (Gen. 3:4-5). It has been his argument from the beginning that somehow the Lord is holding out on us. That He could have been more generous to us. But if we’ll but seize what is our “right,” we’ll become like gods ourselves, captains of our own destiny. And the lie’s corrosion is eating away at the souls of our youth. It will doom many to eternal destruction.

How we need, as parents, and as leaders in local churches, to teach our children and young people to be discerning in this area, and teach them to have an appreciation for the best music.

–Robert Cottrill–http://www.wordwise-bible-studies.com/popular-music-today.html

 

the Devil’s music

[This is an excerpt from the article 
If the Devil Were a Musician...by Curtis Hollembeak  
co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. - DM]

In our present culture great derision is attached to the idea that a certain type of music could be labeled the Devil’s music, but let’s consider what kind of music the Devil would produce if he were a musician. His music would be characterized by:

  1. Rebellion against authority, specifically God’s authority (Gen. 3:1, Is. 14:14, Matt. 4:9, Luke 4:6, 7)
  2. Questioning God’s love (Gen. 3:4, 5; Job 1:9-11)
  3. Emphasis on the material and physical instead of the spiritual (Matt. 4:3, Luke 4:3)
  4. Emphasis on man instead of God (Mark 8:33, Matt. 16:23)
  5. Violence (Ez. 28:16)
  6. Promotion of the breaking of God’s moral law (1 Cor. 7:5)
  7. Selfishness and pride (Isa. 14:13, 14; Ez. 28:17)

So, the Devil’s music would be characterized by rebellion against authority, loud and violent sounds that appeal to the physical (the element of music that appeals to the body is the rhythm, or beat), immoral behaviors, selfishness and pride.

As a side note, it is interesting that in Exodus 32:16, 17, when Moses and Joshua came down from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Law, they mistook the sound of idolatrous music coming from the Israelite camp for the “noise of war.” The music was, presumably, loud, percussive and violent. You will, of course, remember the great rebellion and immorality that also accompanied the idolatry.

Do you know of any musical forms or styles that fit the description of the Devil’s music? You make the call.

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

That little chorus, “Jesus Loves Me,” has no doubt influenced more children for Jesus Christ than any other chorus or hymn. The lyrics were written by Anna Warner and published in 1869 in her best selling novel entitled Say and Seal, and the refrain was later added by songwriter, William Bradbury.

   It was just a poem in this novel, spoken by one of the main characters as he comforted a little boy who was dying. The were simple lyrics, but to the point.

Jesus loves me! this I know

For the Bible tells me so;

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me,

Yes, Jesus loves me,

Yes, Jesus loves me,

For the Bible tells me so.

 

   This little chorus has not only affected children, but adults of all ages as well. Three is something soothing and powerful about this reminder of God’s unfailing love through Jesus Christ. It does not get any simpler, or richer, than that – Jesus loves me!

   The love of God is not just some principle; it is a person. It is not some ethereal feeling from God; it is real fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

   Bank on it; depend on it; be persuaded by this word from God!

   You are eternally secure because God, the Creator of everything, stooped to die for everything about you, so that nothing can now separate you from His everlasting, comprehensive, secure love.

   Charles Spurgeon, on his deathbed, said to some of his final visitors, “As time has passed on, my theology has grown more and more simple. It is simply this, ‘Jesus loves me!”’ That is it!

Jesus loves me! this I know,

For the Bible tells me so;

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me…

The Bible tells me so!

 

Written by Dr. Stephen Davey,
President and Professor of Practical Theology;
Shepherds Theological Seminary

Trust And Obey – The Token of Integrity

The Token of Integrity

 

  

“With a servant, a warrior, a child, a subject,” writes Andrew Murray in The New Life, “obedience is indispensable, the first token of integrity.” 

God is my Master, my Captain, my Father, my King. I am servant, warrior, child, subject. What have I to do in any of these cases but obey? 

Integrity means wholeness, unbroken condition, the quality of being unimpaired and sound. An integer is something which is complete in itself, an entity. No one can serve two masters. Divided loyalty will mean impaired obedience. “A soldier on active service will not let himself be involved in civilian affairs; he must be wholly at his commanding officer’s disposal” (2 Tm 2:4 NEB). 

O Christ, be Master and Captain of my life. Give me a whole heart united to do your bidding and to do nothing else. Let me hear your voice and no other. Make my life an integer for your glory. Amen. 

 

Trust and Obey

Hymn Writer ~ John H. Sammis, 1846-1919  |  Hymn Music ~ Daniel B. Towner, 1850-1919
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Refrain

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

Refrain

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Refrain

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Refrain

 

 

 

 

 

Praise Him!

 

Glory in the Highest

Stop, Look, Listen

 by Chris Tomlin

 How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails. He causes us to remember his wonderful works. How gracious and merciful is our Lord

Psalm 111:2-4, New Living Translation

 

See This Verse In Context

 

ll the earth together declares/ Glory in the highest to You, Lord/ All the earth will sing Your praise/ The moon and stars, the sun and rain

God’s presence is everywhere. Evidence of His greatness is all around you. All you have to do is look and see it. It’s possible to go through everyday and miss it, but if you open your eyes and your heart, you will recognize His majesty everywhere.

• In the sunrise and sunset. How He has timed everything to be perfect, and made it beautiful.

• In rain and snow. How he provides for us in such simple ways.

• In fields of crops and flowers. Giving us beauty and fulfilling our needs.

• In dogs, cats and other pets. Providing unquestionable companionship when we feel like people let us down.

• In friends and family who are our support and speak truth to us.

• In the moon and stars. He placed each one in their place and knows how many there are, and that tells about God’s greatness. But yet He still knows who you are and cares for you.

Take a look around and see how many things in your life show how great and loving God is. And praise Him.

How Great Thou Art 

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

The Birds Sing!

Although we have no claim on God’s mercies, and although they are altogether undeserved, nonetheless they never cease. We have done much to provoke God and give Him cause to cut off His mercy in our behalf. We have abused His mercy, ignored His mercy, even at times ungratefully accepted His mercy. Still, while God’s mercies may not always be visible, they are always present. The mercies of God may change their form, as the morning light varies from the evening light, but the mercies of God will never cease to give their light. Even chastisement is mercy in disguise; and frequently, under the circumstances which make chastisement necessary, it proves to be more merciful than if God had not chastised us at all.
 
In the ray of sunlight presented by Lamentations 3:22-23 we learn that not only are the mercies of God not consumed, “They are new every morning,” proving the great faithfulness of God.
 
There is great novelty in human life. Each day brings to us new and difficult problems, new and exciting challenges. God’s mercy is ever-present, but the form it takes is ever-changing. God adapts His mercy to our immediate needs of each day. His mercies are not chiseled in stone but are vital and vibrant. We need not exhume the antique mercies which God showered on Moses, Jeremiah, or John. God’s mercies on our behalf are fresh and alive today. As God renews His world by greening it every spring, so too He refreshes and invigorates His people by renewing His mercies to them every morning.
 
With every new morning nature offers a tribute of praise to God’s mercy. The sun rises; the birds sing; the trees sway in the breeze. Shall we alone be silent and ungrateful? Shall the Christian, who has the most reasons to praise God for His mercy, be slow to acknowledge that God’s mercy is renewed to him each day? Will we allow the natural creation of God alone to praise its Creator?
No matter how dark our day may appear to be, let us remember this with Jeremiah, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

~Hymn~

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me! 

Fountain Of Joy

You gave me life, O Giver of life,
Life from the tree of everlasting.
And bade me drink of living waters
Flowing from the crystal spring.

You gave me love, O Author of Love,
And wrote upon my heart of stone
The name of Him who loved me first,
And called me out to be His own.

You gave me peace, O Prince of Peace,
And set a watch upon my heart,
To keep me from the evil one,
Who throws temptation’s fiery dart.

You gave me joy, O Fountain of Joy,
Bubbling up from eternal springs.
You are the Source, the Fountainhead
Of every song my heart now sings!

Praising God

And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even.

King David, who himself had been a fugitive and a wanderer for many years of his life, would have liked nothing better than to build a permanent dwelling place for the ark of the covenant. But because he was a man of war, Jehovah would not permit David to realize this privilege, so David “called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house to the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6).

The zealous David did all he could to help in the preparations for the building of this temple. He gathered materials, prepared iron for nails and had a crew of masons readied. But an even greater contribution than arranging for the materials may have been David’s initiation of the first full choral service. In conjunction with the chief of the Levites, David set apart three families and commissioned them to the service of the temple. These were not just singers, but prophets as well, “to prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals” (1 Chronicles 25:1). Generation after generation their instruction was handed down from father to son, and their art and musical skills were carefully perpetuated.

These families were those of Asaph, the son of Berechiah the Gershonite, the chief singer and also a distinguished seer; of Heman the Kohathite, the grandson of the prophet Samuel and himself “the king’s seer in the words of God” (1 Chronicles 25:5); and of Jeduthun (or Ethan), a Merarite, who is also called “the king’s seer.” Each of the names of these leaders is found in the titles or superscriptions of selected psalms in the Psalter.

From 1 Chronicles 23-25 we learn that the numbers of Levites involved in the service of the temple and tabernacle was enormous. The three families numbered 288 principal singers, divided into 24 courses of 12 each. The total number of Levites engaged in the important task of praising Jehovah with the instruments which David made was 4,000. Six thousand were designated as officers and judges, 4,000 were set apart to be doorkeepers, and the remaining 24,000 Levites were designated to the general “work of the house of Jehovah.”

Although to us their work may appear to be mundane, it certainly was not to them. They were to wait on the priests for the service of the house of Jehovah, purifying the holy place and the holy things, preparing the shewbread and the meat offering and assisting in the offering of burnt sacrifices on the sabbaths and on feast days. But perhaps their greatest duty, as well as their greatest delight, was “to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord and likewise at even” (1 Chronicles 23:30).

Rising early in the morning, these Levites would initiate the praise to Jehovah that day. This was not only a responsible position but a very meaningful one as well. Psalm 88, a psalm for the sons of Korah designated as a Maschil of Heman, gives a fine example of what these Levites may have said morning after morning in praising Jehovah. “But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent [come before] Thee” (Psalm 88:13).

Rising early in the morning to initiate a day filled with praise to God is our privilege as well. May we be as faithful in exercising that privilege as David’s choirmasters were. Faithfulness in early praise to God may make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; 

Images of Hell

Somehow or other North Dakota did not seem quite the place where my husband and I expected to find the sort of television program which shocked us. We were in a motel–not one of those that offers Home Box Office or other special shows for a fee, but a perfectly ordinary one. The program that stopped us in our tracks was, we discovered, a perfectly ordinary one that is shown all over the country, twenty-four hours a day. It hasn’t gotten to the Boston area as far as I know, but it will. It is rock music–the screaming, thundering, pulsating, shrieking, eardrubbing, earsplitting, ear-bludgeoning kind, played by groups with names like Cheap Trick, the Boomtown Rats, the Sex Pistols, Missing Persons, The Destroyers, and The Clash. Across the bottom of the screen ran a legend from time to time, giving the name of the soloist, the title of the “music,” and the group performing. Song titles were such things as “Screaming for Vengeance,” “Bad Boy Having a Party,” “Children of the Grave,” “Escalator of Life” (“I’m shoppin’ the human mall” was a line from that one), “Combat Rock,” “Maneater,” and “Paranoid.

Songs, they’re called. I had some idea that singing was supposed to touch the heart. What is the condition of the heart that is touched by titles like those? What was happening on the screen was at least as depressing. The music was being dramatized by children. They were heavily made up, of course, doing their level best to act as sophisticated, blase, and bored as adults must seem to them, but it was plain that most of them were teenagers, early teenagers. They were slinking around bars, slouching along brilliantly lighted city streets; toying with elegant wineglasses in high-toned restaurants, smoking with long, slim, shiny cigarette holders. They were gazing dully at the camera, looking up through lowered eyebrows or down through false eyelashes. They were writhing in horizontal positions, or girls were sashaying away from boys, casting over a raised shoulder the cruel come-on glance of the vamp. Boys were striding with thrust-forward pelvises toward the girls, breathing heavily through parted lips, hulking, swaying, scowling.

The camera went from these scenes to the rock groups sweating and screaming under the colored lights, dressed in rags, blue jeans, tights, sequins, undershirts, and in some cases nearly nothing. Hair was stringy, spinachy, wild–or “punk rock,” dyed, partially shaved, stiff. They smashed, hammered, clobbered those drums. They doubled up in agony over their guitars, striving, twisting, stamping, and jumping. Their faces were contorted with hatred or pain, at times jeering, insolent, defiant. Back the camera would go then to the slithering kids trying to “express themselves” or to play out the lyrics which were being yelled at top decibel by whoever was clutching the microphone. (How do their vocal cords stand it?)

But oh, the faces of those kids. I was riveted to the screen, aghast, horrified. There was a terrible fascination in the very absence of reality. How had they been programmed to erase from their fresh young faces every trace of personality, every least hint of humanity? They stared with unblinking blankness, lifeless, spiritless, cold. A strange and surreal alternative to the spastic seizures, paroxysms, and nauseated retchings of the “musicians.”

This, then, is what rock music is all about. Images of Hell. That’s all I could think of. Hell is the place where those whose motto is My will be done will finally and forever get what they want. Hell is agony and blankness and torture and the absence of all that humanity was originally destined to be. The glory has terminally departed. It is the heat of flames (not of passion–that will long since have burned out) and the appalling lifelessness of solid ice, an everlasting burning and an irreversible freezing.

Tyndale House’s little paper, The Church Around the World, cited a study by Columbia University which helps to explain why we get what we get on TV:

· 50% of those controlling the media have “no religion”
· 8% attend church or synagogue weekly
· 86% attend seldom or never
· 84% believe government should have no laws regulating sex
· 55% believe extramarital affairs are not immoral
· 95% believe homosexuality is not wrong
· 85% believe homosexuals should be permitted to teach in public schools

I do not plan a campaign to squelch rock music. It is simply an accurate expression of the powers that are at work in our society:

For the words that the mouth utters come from the overflowing of the heart. A good man produces good from the store of good within himself; and an evil man from evil within produces evil…. Out of your own mouth you will be acquitted; out of your own mouth you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:35, 36 NEB).

From racket, din, cacophony, and pandemonium (“all demons”), Good Lord, deliver us. Give us the strength that comes from quietness; your gentleness, Lord, your peace. And one more thing, Lord–put a new song in our mouths, even praise to our God.

Copyright© 1989, by Elisabeth Elliot
all rights reserved. Source: On Asking God Why

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