Encouraging a higher standard for Christian music

Posts tagged ‘Music’

Quote

The world sings…

The world sings: the millions have their songs; and I must say the taste of the populace is a very remarkable taste just now as to its favourite songs. They are, many of them, so absurd and meaningless as to be unworthy of an idiot. I should insult an idiot if I could suppose that such songs as people sing nowadays would really be acceptable to him.
Yet these things will be heard from men, and places will be thronged to listen to hear the stuff. Now, why should we, with the grand psalms we have of David, with the noble hymns of Cowper, of Milton, of Watts—why should we not sing as well as they? Let us sing the songs of Zion; they are as cheerful as the songs of Sodom any day. Let us drown the howling nonsense of Gomorrha with the melodies of the New Jerusalem.
Charles Spurgeon
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~ Chapter 3 ~ 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 H R E E

MUSIC AND RELIGION THROUGH THE AGES

“As soon as they went out from the Presence of the Lord, they started building cities, they started making instruments, they started in science – making brass and iron, and they started playing music. Where did it come from? Who went out? Cain, the serpent’s seed. “9

Within man there exists an inherent impulse to worship. God even provisioned our physical beings with an instrument through which we can declare our devotion – the human voice. When we choose to vary  the  melody  and rhythm of our vocal sounds, the result is music, and nothing characterizes the very essence of worship like the unornamented songs of man.

The Bible gives us very few written clues concerning the first music  produced by man, but our oldest existent vocal traditions, such as that of the Jewish cantor, the Moslem muezzin calling the faithful to prayer, or even the chanting of the North American Indian, indicate that mankind’s first musical expressions were likely a part of his religious experience. As man’s musical skills developed, he began to fashion instruments from what he found in nature – bones, horns, willow bark, animal skin and gut – and he adapted these materials to suit his personal needs. Jubal, the great-great-great-great grandson of Cain, was “the father of all such as handle the harp and organ, ” (instrumental music) Genesis 4:21, reflecting the love of beauty and the arts, which was his birthright.

In time, as men developed their artistic abilities, music began to take on many forms and serve many functions, both sacred and profane. From generation to generation, musical expression played such a vital part in cultural development that the religious morals and social values of a given community reflected in the quality of the music that they produced.

Most music produced by the people of the Bible never developed beyond simple homogeneous songs and chants with basic accompaniment of harps, trumpets, and cymbals. Much of the Hebrew music was consecrated to the service of the Temple worship, but throughout the Scriptures there are numerous accounts of secular use also: songs of triumph after victory, songs at marriage celebrations and festivals, songs for shepherds and for kings.

In the great temples of ancient Egypt, the priests trained choirs in the singing of ritual music to pagan gods. Their songs were complemented by the clapping together of sticks and disks.

At the same time, in other parts of the world, more primitive societies evoked their deities in a wild abandon of religious fervor and emotional ecstasy, accompanied by the pounding of syncopated rhythms on a hollow log.

Music has always left behind evidence of its effect upon a given society. One can even trace the rise and fall of civilizations by making a parallel study of the types of music listened to during the corresponding era.10 Four hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Greek philosopher Plato said, “When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state change with them. Through foolishness they deceived themselves into thinking that there was no right or wrong in music, that it was to be judged good or bad by the pleasure it gave.”

At the time of Christ, both vocal and instrumental music were flourishing. Jesus and His followers participated in the traditional Jewish synagogue music, and undoubtedly this directly influenced early Christian songs. The ornamented cantonal melodies were adapted to the new teachings of Christ and absorbed into the fledgling Christian faith. It was common practice for a cantor to serve a synagogue on Friday evening and then place his skills at the disposal of the Christians on Sunday.11

Instrumental music played no part in the life of the early Christian church. Instruments had too many associations with the debauched life of Rome, and only the voice was considered to have the purity and nobility worthy of God’s ear. Cantorial chant evolved gradually into a slow-moving, unison singing called plainsong (later known as Gregorian chant), which dominated Christian worship for a thousand years. During the  Middle Ages, there was an attempt by the church-world to gain widespread control of music by deeming certain chords to be un-harmonious and therefore blasphemous and unworthy to reflect the glory of God. The church denounced all music that was unsanctified by a sacred text.

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg (accusing the Roman Catholic church of corruption) and the Reformation was born. Luther, an accomplished musician, threw out much of the old church music and wrote new hymns, bringing the language of the people (rather than Latin) into use for sacred songs. He declared, “ Nothing on earth is more powerful than noble music in making the sad joyful, the arrogant discreet, the despondent valiant; in charming the haughty to humility, and in mitigating envy and hatred.” Luther believed that music in the church served as a resounding sermon,12 and he is accredited with saying that he didn’t care who preached, as long as he wrote the song. By acknowledging the staying power of music in the worship experience, Luther single-handedly established congregational singing as an important part of the Christian church service. Elements of harmony, which had been reserved previously for highly trained musicians of the church, were now being mastered and sung by the common people. Music and religious worship became bonded into one, inseparable experience. It seemed that the fellowship of a common faith could be expressed through song far more effectively than through a formalized cannon, dogma, or ritual of the church.

In secular use, music was becoming a melting pot of sounds. The clash of cultures, which had been launched by the Crusades in 1096, brought many different musical traditions together, and increasingly these new harmonies and rhythms found their way into the music of Europe. Near the end of the sixteenth century, new printing methods and a newly developed system of musical notation made possible the duplication of every kind of music and placed it on the open market. It was the dawning of a new day for both the composer and the performer. Music was on its way to becoming a universal language.

With the passing of the centuries, there was also a darker, more sinister form of music finding expression and establishing its place within the musical brotherhood of mankind. This music involved a complex primitive theology embracing fetishes, totems, and magic. It was born in the sacrificial incantations to a river god, nurtured by the unimaginable horrors of slavery, and released upon the New World to wage war with the God of Christianity. It was called  ‘voodoo,’ and its throbbing beat prophesied of the evil fruit it would yield.

By the early 1600s, the Western colonization of other lands was a growing concern. Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the New World and Africa were already well established, and an armada of ships operated by slave traders plied the waters from Western Europe to the coast of Africa. After picking up their human cargo, they would continue their voyage across the southern Atlantic to Brazil, Central America, the West Indies, and the New World. And wherever they were sent, the slaves took their music with them – an agonized inspiration that would become the cornerstone for virtually every American musical expression to follow.13

By the time the New World was being recognized as a blossoming mission field by the various progeny of Luther’s reformation movement, the rhythm and melody of Africa had already joined with the harmonies of European music, which the church had so carefully nurtured, and a powerful new musical form was born.

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 editor]

~ 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]

~Introduction ~ Music – The Sound and the Unsound

The next 10 or 11 posts will be 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, Kutless, NewSong, Sidewalk prophets , The David Crowder band, Casting Crowns, Jeremy 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

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

Music

THE SOUND

AND THE

UNSOUND

INTRODUCTION

“I don’t care how good of a home a child has been brought up in, and how it’s been taught to do right; if that child hasn’t accepted the experience of the New Birth, rock and roll music catches his attention just as quick as he hears it. Because in him – born in him by nature – is a carnal spirit.  And the power of the Devil is so great today that it catches the spirit of that little one.”1

Americans are addicted to music. It is an addiction that last year1990 alone, cost us seven billion dollars2 and helped make music the most prosperous industry on earth.

However, we are not without company. The whole world has tuned in with us to become a part of the greatest social phenomena in all of history:  Rock-n-roll music.

Rock is now a generation old, and that in itself is nothing short of a miracle for something that was dismissed by the previous generation as being a flash-in-the-pan, in one-ear-and-out-the-other, teenage craze. Even though we live in an era of blinding changes, rock has been able to assimilate, integrate and even mutate its way through nearly five decades to become something that is much more than music in the ear of the rock-believer. Resurrecting the deep-seated spiritual attributes of its ancient forbearers, rock has now achieved the elevated status of deification. In every sense, it has become a religion, complete with a full contingent of its own high priests and false prophets.

It sounds incredible, doesn’t it?  But, have you ever stopped to ask yourself just what it is that makes rock different from other music?  Why is it so powerful?  What is its source, and where is it leading us?  Unfortunately, most people never stop to analyze the multitude of sounds that bombard them daily, and that could prove to be fatal. Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. The story goes that if you throw a live frog in a pan of boiling water, he will jump out so fast that he won’t even be scalded. But take the same frog and put him in a pan of lukewarm water, then gradually bring the water to a boil. The frog will allow himself to be slowly cooked to death.

Could it be that we Christians are being slowly conditioned to accept the compelling, pervasive, permissive attitudes around us without our even knowing it? As Message believers, how vulnerable are we to these attitudes?

These are questions that must be answered today, and that is what this article is all about. Be warned:  This is not going to be easy reading, and you cannot breeze through it quickly. But when you are finished you will know how to test the temperature of the water you are sitting in right now. I challenge you to check it out for yourself – before it’s too late.

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