|Appendices -> Rhythm in Church|
Rhythm in the Church
BIBLE GUIDELINES FOR CHRISTIAN MUSIC. This is the best and clearest explanation of what proper music itself is on the web that I am aware. The reader is referred to this website dedicated to what correct scriptural Christian music itself is. Study it and play the sound bytes given as examples included, and visit the links. It covers drums, rhythm, melody, content, performance, performers, and purpose of good music. Please go to http://www.av1611.org/cqguide.html for this detailed and complete explanation. It is truly a blessing and extremely instructive. Bible Guidelines for Music by Terry Watkins, http://www.av1611.org/cqguide.html
If this one link on rock music doesn't convince you as to the evil of rock music, I'd be surprised. Go to http://www.av1611.org/othpubls/roots.html
At the end of this Appendix are more websites listed for excellent help with reference to music in the church.
Here are two articles taken from Church Music Dynamics. They will give the reader a good background and understanding of proper Christian music that is so badly needed today in our churches. We have allowed the "profane and vain " of the world to be brought within our assemblies. "Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine Holy things: they have put no difference between the Holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean.... I am profaned among them"(Ezek 22:26).
Putting the Pieces together By Danny Sweatt "Reprinted" from Church Music Dynamics Volume 6, Number 6 - Nov/Dec 1996
Formulating a sensible, biblical philosophy of sacred music is not a simple task. The difficulty it poses may be best illustrated by the old fable of three blind men describing an elephant. The first felt the elephant's trunk and said, "An elephant is round like a tree." The second placed his hands on the elephant's side and said, "An elephant is flat like a wall." The third said with equal conviction after touching the elephant's tail, "An elephant is long and skinny like a snake."
Obviously to the sighted person all were right, yet all were wrong. They were right in that each one adequately described one facet of an elephant. They were wrong in that their perception was only part of the picture.
Some, in attempting to draw a clearer picture of one aspect of Christian music, have, in fact, made that part seem as if it were the whole picture. Some have made the text the only relevant consideration, completely ignoring the music. Others have focused on the beat, giving the impression that the rhythm is the snake under the rock. Still others focus on the performers, ignoring the music. As in the fable, they may be right, while at the same time be giving a false impression.
Music, particularly Christian music, is not one-dimensional. Some songs with biblical words may be couched in sensual music. Some songs with lovely, attractive music may carry heretical texts. Some sound texts with appropriate music may be performed by questionable musicians, while trusted musicians may present unbiblical songs.
The answer to this confusion is to firmly establish the large underlying biblical principles. Once these are in place the smaller, particular questions seem to answer themselves.
Is Its Character Pure?
In considering the individual piece of music, we must examine both the words and the music. The lyrics must be examined in light of Scripture. They should not only be free from error; they must also be clear and understandable. One of the ironies of our age is that fundamental churches who would never permit heretical messages to be preached from the pulpit allow heretical messages to be sung from the same pulpit on a regular basis. A pretty strong case can be made for the fact that error is more dangerous when it is sung than when it is spoken because it tends to be remembered longer.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness" (II Timothy 2:15-16).
The second aspect of a song that must be considered is the music itself. Let me go on record as saying that the only people who say the music doesn't make a difference are Christian people. Any secular musician, any musicologist, any music therapist would laugh at that statement. Some Christians say, "The music is amoral, only a matter of taste. All that is important is the words." When a person says that, he immediately reveals his ignorance. Ask secular rock musicians if the music makes a difference. They will say that it is far more influential than the words.
Two aspects of the music must be carefully examined if we are to make good value judgments. The first is, does the music agree in style and mood with the text? The music is the vehicle which carries the text. In normal verbal conversation vocal inflection, pitch of the voice, and facial and bodily expressions all affect the perception of the message communicated.
I may say the words, "I love you too!" and communicate either genuine affection or the fact that I think you're a jerk. So while the words of a given song may be acceptable, the vehicle may cause the communication of a totally different message.
The second consideration given to the music must be the presence of sensuality. Galatians 6 reminds us of the battle going on between the flesh and the spirit. The sensual is that which feeds the flesh.
It is a given fact that most secular contemporary music is grossly sensual. Any reading of the comments of the musicians themselves or of those who comment on their music will reveal that most often sensuality is the goal of their music. The lights and visual effects combine with the music to provide a total sensual experience.
The inference is obvious. If the very same styles of music are being used with sacred words, are they any less sensual?
The June 5, 1984, edition of USA Today says, "The scene is familiar: a sweating, bearded singer wails on stage amid the din of heavy-metal guitars, synthesizers and crashing drums. The lyrics are: 'I used to worship knowledge/thought it would set me free,' screams Glen Kaiser, lead singer of the band Resurrection, 'I found Jesus' love/is quite enough for me.'" The description is of a rock concert called Jesus Festival, held in Orlando, Florida, before 15,000 cheering and dancing fans.
One contemporary Christian magazine described a new album this way, "At its rocking best. Simmers down to smooth funk and cools off in quiet praise. An ultra-conservative Christian Black Sabbath."
There are now in print several "cross-over" books such as Rock and Roll: Proceed With Caution, which compares CCM performers to popular rock groups in order to help young people find contemporary Christian music to fit their current tastes.
When sensual music is combined with good words the result would, at best, be less effective than the same message without the accompanying sensuality. At worst it has the same effect as that of mixing Tylenol and cyanide. I have a feeling that far more people "cross over" from the church to the world because of this mixture than "cross over" in the other direction. How can pastors, evangelists, and youth workers effectively warn Christian people about a style of music that they hear in church each Sunday?
There are two passages of Scripture that Christians must consider in evaluating CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). In describing the "last days" in II Timothy 3:4 & 5, Paul says, "Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof"--sensuality in the guise of religion.
I Peter 1:14 & 15 states, "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation."
Are Its Associations Clean?
The second large piece of the puzzle involves not the songs themselves but the associations of the songs. As I was speaking in Miami last fall, one of the laymen in the church gave me a perfect illustration of this concept. He said, "Suppose I am having a dinner party at my home. I go to the local plumbing supply store and buy a brand new commode--never been used. I scrub it, disinfect it, and then fill it with punch for my guests. I doubt that there would be much enthusiasm for the drink." The problem is, one does not expect to find wholesome drink in a toilet.
Neither can one divorce music from its origins. The word profane is defined by Webster as "not concerned with religion, secular, not hallowed, irreverent, showing disregard or contempt for spiritual things." From the same root comes our word profanity.
Ezekiel the prophet was sent to Israel at a time when she was totally assimilated into heathen culture, much like many Christians of today. The people had adopted heathen values and lifestyles, and were by all outward appearances no different than those around them. Through Ezekiel God points out how God's people became swallowed up by the society in which they lived. Ezekiel 22:26: "Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned my holy things: they have put no difference between the Holy and the profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean."
When spiritual leadership does not clearly draw the distinction between the profane and the holy and teach the people to avoid the profane and to embrace the holy, soon the people lose the ability to tell the difference in a heathen culture. Rather than absolutes, in a culture completely saturated with evil, the difference between good and bad becomes a matter of degree. It is easy in such a setting to embrace the "less profane." When it is embraced in a religious environment such as corporate worship, it is easily mistaken for holy.
Modern rock of various sorts and degrees in its origins and its normal uses obviously matches the definition of profane. When it is brought into our churches and called holy by sincere people, then that which is actually profane is seen as appropriate. Once that line is crossed, other attendant evils must also be evaluated in a different light also. On and on it goes until discernment is impossible.
In a recent brochure advertising its next big music conference, one of the largest church music brokers in the nation (from whom I have bought music for many years) had a large photograph of a very attractive young lady in a body-suit and leotards. The brochure said she would hold a seminar on creative dance to be used in worship. It stated further that she was very qualified to speak on the subject because she was a dancer, choreographer, and pastor's wife. Have we come so far as to have suggestively clothed young women dancing in our services?
Is Its Performance Appropriate?
If sacred music is for the communication and reinforcement of spiritual truth, then the messenger must remain an unobstructing channel.
We live in the day of the Christian superstar. Christian musicians have developed a cult-like following. There are "fan magazines" that tell of the private lives, the diets, and the loves and marriages of this new breed of hero.
Their concerts become the great events of the Christian community, complete with $15 ticket prices, laser light shows and live bands, and accompanied by raucous cheering and applause. These superstars demand thousands of dollars for one performance. Their record sales are in the hundreds of millions per year. Christian radio represents the fastest-growing segment of the market.
The "superstar syndrome" puts the emphasis in the wrong place. The singer should never overshadow the song. If communication of truth is our goal, the messenger immediately becomes subservient to the message.
When the emphasis is placed on ministry rather than entertainment, it is much easier to keep self out of the way and the message foremost. Any singer or musician who seeks to promote himself has already put a giant roadblock in the way of his usefulness.
All glory rightfully belongs to God. When man attempts to steal that which belongs to God and keep it for himself, he has committed a grievous sin.
There are plenty of superstars abroad today and many more who are aspiring to stardom. Instead of superstars, we need committed, clean Christians who love the Lord and who have a message in their hearts to communicate--Christians who are not impressed with themselves but who are consumed with their message.
As the Christian sees his music as an offering to God, its purpose as communication of truth, and himself as a channel of blessing, the picture of sacred music begins to come into sharper focus. Once the "why" is firmly established in our minds, the "how" quickly becomes more apparent.
Danny Sweatt pastors Berean Baptist Church in Snellville, GA.
Who Should Be Singing? by Tim Fisher "Reprinted" from Church Music Dynamics Volume 2, Number 6 - Nov/Dec 1992
Note: This article is included in Chapter Nine of Tim Fisher's book The Battle For Christian Music
CCM emphasizes performance by a select few, rather than the whole body. Groups and "superstars" receive the attention at the expense of the real "performers," individual believers. Music in the Bible always helps us focus on the real performers of church music. This will not be a detailed study of every reference to music in the Bible, but we can certainly see the principle involved.
The first mention of music in the Bible is in Genesis 4:20-22: "And Adah bore Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. And Zillah, she bore Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron." Here at the dawning of civilization, only eight generations from Adam, we see the development of organized society including agriculture, fine arts, and industry.
Music formed an integral part of Old Testament life. It was central in Israel's worship (I Chronicles 15:27-28 and Nehemiah 12:45-47). It was used on social occasions such as weddings or for mourning (II Samuel 1:18-27,many Bible scholars believe that this passage was actually a song); at times of economic prosperity (Isaiah 16:10 and Jeremiah 48:33); during important political events (I Kings 1:39-40); and when celebrating a military victory (Judges 11:34). In Old Testament times music permeated most activities, as it does in our society today.
Many musicians are mentioned specifically in the Old Testament. Moses is one of the first. He led the children of Israel in a song after God delivered them through the Red Sea from the Egyptians; Exodus 15 is his song of praise to God for deliverance. Moses' sister Miriam is also mentioned as taking part. Deborah and Barak are referred to as singing a song of praise in Judges 5. Asaph is given prominence in Scripture as an instrumentalist (I Chronicles 15:19, 16:5, and Ezra 3:10). He was an expert cymbal player and instructor who wrote many of the Psalms. Jeduthan was probably the chief harpist of the Levites (I Chronicles 25:3) and the recipient of some of David's psalms,perhaps he set them to music. Heman is called a singer in I Chronicles 6:33 but was also an instrumental instructor and a leader in Israel's praise. Chenaniah is called the "master of song" in I Chronicles 15:27 and is referred to in verse 22 as the chief of the Levites and as "instructed about the song, because he was skillful." Jezrahiah is referred to as the overseer of the singers in Nehemiah 12:42. Habakkuk was apparently a musician according to the last verse of his book (Habakkuk 3:19).
But above all of these great men, it is David that we recognize as the greatest musician of the Old Testament. Before the people knew David as king, he was known as a skilled musician. Saul requested his presence because of his musical ability. David is called the "sweet singer of Israel" and he was responsible for compiling and writing many of the Psalms, the book that served as the Church's hymnal for thousands of years. It was David who was primarily responsible for organizing the elaborate musical structure of temple worship (I Chronicles 15:16), and it was David who gave attention to and participated in the service of the musicians (I Chronicles 15:27-28). David was even responsible (I Chronicles 16:4-5) for organizing the first temple choir (ten men and a director).
There are many names of musicians in the Old Testament, but there were many more participants in the music of worship,the Levites. God instructed David that the priests should lead in the music of the worship services: "And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy" (I Chronicles 15:16). Not only did the Levites carry out duties pertaining to worship and sacrifice, they also had the responsibility of receiving and giving musical training. These ten requirements are recorded in the Old Testament for music leaders:
Under Solomon, 288 priests were appointed to train the younger Levites in music (I Chronicles 25:7-8). The priests began their musical training at a very young age but they were not considered skillful enough to take their place in one of the main choirs until the age of thirty. Then they remained in the choir singing and playing in the temple for twenty more years. They had to memorize all music. Their duties included three services a day, regularly-held practice sessions, and three great festivals each year in addition to the regular obligations of worship and private devotions.
- They must come from the Levitical priesthood,i.e., not just anyone could serve in this capacity (I Chronicles 15:16).
- They were to be well organized and were appointed for specific tasks (I Chronicles 15:19-21).
- They were educated and trained in the area of music. The word "skillful" is often used of them (I Chronicles 15:22).
- They were efficient performers,punctual and systematic (I Chronicles 16:37).
- They were consecrated to their tasks (I Chronicles 15:12).
- They were models of obedience to God's Word (II Chronicles 34:30-32).
- They were set apart by wearing distinctive robes (II Chronicles 5:12).
- They were paid for their services, and were provided with homes (Numbers 18:21, Nehemiah 12:27-29).
- They were treated as other religious leaders (Ezra 7:24).
- They were to be mature (only those thirty years of age or older could serve). The worship of God was not to be carried on by novices (I Chronicles 23:3-5).
What a demanding schedule! And some have the nerve today to say, "Y'all pray for me, I ain't practiced much." Of course, we are not under the Jewish law, but consider the example that God has set for us. We should certainly be more concerned about the spiritual qualifications of our church musicians than we should be about their musical qualifications, but that does not excuse us from musical preparation! A frequent review of the ten requirements above will remind us of our obligations before the Lord as His ministers of music.
After the Old Testament record of music we come to what is called the intertestamental period. During the Babylonian captivity about the time of Ezra,sixth century B.C.,the temple was destroyed, and with the great dispersion the elaborate structure of music and worship ceased. Believers eventually had to meet in homes for worship and testimonies. From these meetings the synagogues developed, which prospered and were the main points of worship when the New Testament opened. The New Testament makes many references to Christ and His disciples going into the synagogue to pray or witness. Scholars believe that there were over 500 synagogues in Jerusalem alone when Christ began His public ministry. These were, in essence, the "local churches" of the day. Though the Bible does not give us a detailed description of what the music in the synagogues was like, we may safely assume that it was patterned after the temple music without professional choirs. The trained priests who were scattered after the captivity had continued their leadership in musical affairs. They became the first "ministers of music."
Since there were no organized choirs or priests to carry on the musical program in New Testament times, music was performed by the common people. Though instructions are clear in the Old Testament for all to sing, the example of music in the New Testament shows that it was here that common participation became a reality. Since all believers could participate in the music, congregational singing became common in the synagogue. New Testament references to music include Jesus and His disciples singing a hymn at the Last Supper (Mark 14:26), Paul and Silas singing in jail (Acts 16:25), and Mary singing after the angel's proclamation of Christ's coming birth (Luke 1). James states, "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms" (James 5:13). Paul gives us two grand references to music in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. And we today are commanded to be "speaking to yourselves," "teaching and admonishing one another," and "singing with grace in your heart." Singing is an individual responsibility.
The writer of Hebrews puts this in perspective. As the book unfolds, we see that we are no longer under the Old Testament system of blood sacrifice. Jesus Christ is our perfect high priest and our perfect sacrifice. We are now members of a holy and royal priesthood (I Peter 2:5, 9) and can boldly enter into the presence of God, claiming the perfect sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf (Hebrews 4:16). These truths are precious to every true believer. But is there a "sacrifice" that we must continue to make after we have been cleansed by Christ's perfect sacrifice? In the final chapter the writer of Hebrews declares that we do have a sacrifice to make: "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15). I Peter 2:5 defines our obligation to "offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God." Singing is not a sacrifice for sin, but rather a sacrifice of praise for forgiveness of sin.
As New Testament priests we are commanded to praise God. In Hebrews 13:15 praise is defined as "the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name." Praise and thanksgiving are one in Scripture,it is impossible to separate them. The references to "singing" or "song" in the Bible deal overwhelmingly with "singing praise" or offering a "song of praise." This is a New Testament principle: As New Testament believers, we have a clear command to offer our sacrifices of singing praise in thanksgiving to God. There is no other conclusion at which we can arrive. Failure or refusal to sing scripturally is disobedience.
Our song around the throne in heaven will be a song of praise. The song of the angels and the twenty-four elders will be a song of praise. If, indeed, God "is worthy to receive glory and honor and power" (Revelation 4:11) for all eternity, then He is worthy to receive our praise right now. "All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name" (Psalm 66:4).
Singing is an activity that all are commanded to practice. Psalm 67:3 says, "Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee." Psalm 116:12-14 states: "What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all his people." Read some excerpts from Psalm 66: "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands" (v. 1); "All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name" (v. 4); "O bless our God ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard" (v. 8); "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue" (v. 16). I have emphasized the first-person personal pronouns in these verses. Clearly, singing is the responsibility of every believer.
Often some men have the idea that singing is not their personal responsibility. Look back through the verses just discussed. Who took the leadership in the area of music? Men! Who are the greatest teachers of music in the Old and New Testament? Men! Men are to set the example for the church to follow, and any pastor will agree that if the men in a church are strong and take leadership, the church will do something for the Lord. Hearing the singing of men who love the Lord is one of the most wonderful sounds a Christian can experience.
We have come full circle. From the beginning of time there was music. Even before man existed, Scripture speaks of the "morning stars singing together" (Job 38:7); and long after the world and mortal man have ceased to exist, there will be singing around the throne of the Lamb. Music is not optional in the New Testament church. Hymns of praise are the natural outpouring of joyful Christian hearts.
Since the Bible has so much to say about music and praise, we need to be diligent in studying the Word of God to learn from its teachings, and thus praise God for His marvelous revelation. John Wesley summed it up well when he said, "Sing all. See that you join the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing."
A website that is helpful is http://www.biblebelievers.net It has extensive links to very good sites on almost any subject. It is helpful. They also have a list of extensive links concerning Rock Music at http://www.biblebelievers.net/ChristianRock/kjcrockm.htm
CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT. Author David W. Cloud comments: "To our knowledge, this 450-page book is the most extensive examination of Contemporary Christian Music in print. It features: A definition of Contemporary Christian Music. The spiteful anti-fundamentalist attitude which permeates CCM. The intimate connection between end-time apostasy and CCM. Southern gospel yesterday and today. The love affair between CCM musicians and secular rock music. The ecumenism of CCM. The close association of CCM with Roman Catholicism. The intimate connection between CCM and the Charismatic Movement. An encyclopedia of 200 CCM musicians [with] profiles of their lives and ministries, church affiliations, philosophies, ecumenical associations, music, etc. Documentation proving that CCM is owned largely by secular corporations. Lyrics to CCM songs illustrating the vagueness and heresy of their message. Twenty-three key CCM arguments answered (we must use rock music to win young people, music is neutral, people are getting saved, God doesn't look on the outward appearance, Luther used tavern music, God created all music, Christians are not to judge, etc.). Careful documentation of every fact presented. How to keep CCM out of churches. Where Christians should draw the line with music. The book has a list of Suggested Resources on Music, listing sources for sound Christian music, hymnals, resources for song leading, and materials for further reading on the topic of CCM. There is also an extensive bibliography on the subject of Christian music. 450 7X8 pages...$19.95 + $10% S/H." Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866/295-4143 (toll free), E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: http://www.wayoflife.org/ See footnote.1 http://www.smsrecordings.com This website holds to the principles regarding the above two articles also excerpted there. There one can purchase the music itself in many forms.
http://www.joyfulnoisemusic.com If you like excellent piano music of all the old hymns of the churches in the early years of 1900's you will thoroughly enjoy the many midi hymns that one can listen to and the albums available for purchase. This will give one a sense of the old hymns that filled our churches 60-80 years ago, when music glorified God and clapping in church was disrespectful. The music on this site for your listening is a rare and real blessing. Purchase the albums on CD or cassette. Highly recommended.
http://logosresourcepages.org/chr-rock.htm Here is a long list of reasons to avoid Christian Rock. The pastors who like Christian Rock are very deceived people, at the very least. Also, see the extensive website http://logosresourcepages.org/ for many fine references and articles on nearly every conceivable subject....a great blessing.
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