In my efforts to reach the next generation for Christ, I have found music to be a powerful tool. Music is the language of the next generation. When the lyrics of a song are biblically based and it has a great musical score, a song is transformed into a sermon that young people can grasp.
Sadly, many churches that I interact with fail to grasp this important truth. Somehow they equate “church music” with “funeral music.” While there are appropriate times for “funeral music,” I can think of many times in which that genre would not be the best choice (for example: weddings come to mind!).
Though in the 1970’s and 80’s “modern” Christian music tended to be five words sung fifteen times, contemporary Christian music has come a long way since then. Many “modern” Christian songs are actually based on various Psalms. The book of Psalms was the “hymn book” of ancient Israel and the early Christian church. This means that many “modern” Christian songs are merely adaptations of ancient biblical worship.
Though many churches have become accustomed to having only a piano and/or organ accompany their music, this has not always been the case. Jewish worship as described in Psalms was quite robust and utilized a large number of instruments that were to be used for worship.
Consider this list of biblical worship instruments:
1. Castanets – two chestnuts attached to the fingers and beat together – Psalm 150:5
2. Cornet – hollow, curved horn – Psalm 98:6
3. Cymbals – two concave plates of brass where were clanged together – Psalm 150:5
4. Drum (also called timbrel or tambour) – wooden hoop with animal skins pulled across the frame – Psalm 68:25
5. Harp – a wooden device with strings attached that made music when the strings were plucked – Psalm 33:2
6. Organ – reed instrument made of wood, ivory or bone that was similar to the modern oboe – Psalm 150:4
7. Psaltery – similar to the harp but was bottle-shaped with strings – Psalm 71:22
8. Trumpet – made from the horn of ram or goat – Psalm 98:6
9. Zither – ten-stringed instrument – Psalm 144:9
God created music. God wants us to use music to connect our hearts with His. If we desire to impact the next generation for Christ, we will want to work through this issue and come to biblical conclusions instead of human preferences. It may be delicate, but it is also important. Lord, give us Your wisdom in how to use music to honor, worship and glorify You.
The list of musical instruments above was adapted from:
Willmington, H. L. Willmington’s Book of Bible Lists (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1989), 213.