Unity in Song

Even as the gathered assembly was a visible symbol of unity, the sound of singing is an audible symbol of unity.

—Constance Cherry, The Music Architect, 221

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A Singing Congregation

Pastoral musicians must learn to love the sound of a singing congregation above any other musical sound.

—Charles Gardner, “Ten Commandments for Those Who Love the Sound of a Singing Congregation,” in The Singing Assembly, 103 (quoted in Constance Cherry, The Music Architect, 212)

Preparing for Worship

Dear Christian,

As we gather for corporate worship tomorrow, we would all do well to remember that it is not a biblical necessity to enjoy the music—though it is not an outright sin to do so either—to which the truths of God’s word are set to melody, harmony and rhythm. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 ESV) If the music or musical style does not suit your personal and private tastes, make it your spiritual aim to rejoice in message of the lyric, for that is much more important than the music.If you cannot rejoice in the message of the lyric, either the lyric must change, or perhaps your heart.

—Jason French

The Power of Music

The idea of limiting and censoring music is at least as old as the 4th century BC, when Plato wrote that in the Republic he envisioned, the flute and other instruments “capable of modulation into all the modes” would be banned. We don’t think of Plato as a totalitarian, but he shared the  totalitarian rulers’ fear of the power of music to unleash the human spirit…It was no accident that Mao and Plato both wanted to ban certain kinds of music…

Glazov informs us, “The Taliban illegalized music completely in Afghanistan, and Ayatollah Khomeini banned most music from Iranian radio and television.” Lenin did not ban music, but he wouldn’t listen to lt. “It makes you want to say stupid, nice things and stroke the heads of people  who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell.”…

—William J. Federer, Change to Chains: The 6,000 Year Quest for Control, 77

Words and Music

It was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be associated as closely with the Word of God as music. Therefore, we have so many hymns and Psalms where message and music [Sermo et vox] join to move the listener’s soul….After all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both words and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music and by providing sweet melodies with words.

—Martin Luther, “Preface to Georg Rhau’s Symphoniae iucundae,” Luther’s Works 53-323-24

 

REFORMATION 500: Luther on Music

I am not ashamed to confess publicly that next to theology there is no art which is the equal of music, for she alone, after theology, can do what otherwise only theology can accomplish, namely, quiet and cheer up the soul of man, which is clear evidence that the devil, the originator of depressing worries and troubled thoughts, flees from the voice of music just as he flees from the words of theology.

—Martin Luther