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.
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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]

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