Jesus (and Music Part 2)

I want to continue in this column with the subject of Jesus and music. Last week we looked at the place of music in the life of Jesus and in the early church. I will not repeat the points in that column. I just suggest that you click the archive link on this page and then read the column.

What I want to do is a follow-up to last week’s column. I received so many e-mails about it and am very pleased with your comments.

I list below scriptures concerning music, singing, psalms and hymns that were a part of the life of the early church, in the life of the believers in and followers of Jesus. Yet I do not find any pattern of music in their gatherings.

Did they sing during their meetings? It seems so.

Was the singing before speaking or after? We have no idea.

Was music organized or spontaneous? We have no idea.

Musical instruments do not seem to have been used in the New Testament times and even for the next several hundred years. In the Old Testament times there were instruments of music and worship. Some scholars dispute this and say the Greek word for ‘psalms’ allows for instruments.

The singing seems to have been a cappella.

For sure we have no idea of how the songs and psalms were used or when. But it is clear that it was a part of the believer’s life and worship.

Please read the following scriptures carefully and then I will comment.

Ephesians 5:18-20
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Colossians 3:16-17
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another
in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

1 Corinthians 14:15
What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit,
and I will also pray with the understanding.
I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

Acts 16:23-25
And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison,
commanding the jailer to keep them securely.
Having received such a charge,
he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them.

Hebrews 2:9-12
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory,
to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason
He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly
I will sing praise to You.”

James 5:13
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray . Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

Romans 15:9-11
That the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
“For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles,
and sing to Your name.”
And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”
And again: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”

The following in the Book of Revelation seem to be happening in heaven.

Revelation 5:9-10
And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”

Revelation 14:2-3
And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder.
And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.
They sang as it were a new song before the throne,
before the four living creatures, and the elders;
and no one could learn that song
except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.

Revelation 15:2-4
And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass,
having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested.”

The scriptures listed above let us know that not only Jesus practiced singing:

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives .

Matthew 26:30
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives .

Mark 14:26

But that the early church also sang!

I love music and singing. As I carry the cross I love to sing along the roads of the world! I sing in the shower and I sing in the car. I sing when I’m happy and I sing when I’m sad.

Let us sing and worship God.

Just remember we have little mention of singing in the New Testament and no indication of whether they sang every week and we have no idea as to when it took place during their meetings.

Also just know that the great importance of music in church today is mostly custom, tradition and a development of the last several hundred years of church history.

I am not trying to diminish the importance of music and singing but just seeking to keep it in its proper place in relationship to the life of Jesus and the early church.

Jesus sang a song with His disciples so let us sing and worship God with all our hearts.

God bless you.

Remember the last scriptures above in Revelation? There is and will be singing and songs and music in heaven. So get ready by singing now. It is a warm up for Glory!

Pilgrim followers of Jesus,

Arthur and Denise Blessitt

Luke 18:1