Music in the church has been discussed and debated a great deal lately, especially with regard to musical styles and tastes. However, I am not aware of any ongoing debate about whether music and singing should be an integral element of corporate worship. Virtually every Christian community sings together.
I gained a fresh perspective on this as I was reading a book about the New Testament church. The writer pointed out that “Christianity is the only great movement among men to give great and lasting prominence to singing. In no other society is there a comparable practice. … It is not by accident that singing occupies so large a place in Christian worship. Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, and James 5:13 enjoin the practice. The rendering, ‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs’ suggests a wide variety of choice in selecting the songs to be used.”
I had not really thought much about the importance of music, especially singing together, to Christian worship. And I had not actually noticed that Christianity is unique among world religions in this regard. But this is remarkable. Throughout all the centuries, across [almost] all of the denominations, and around the world, Christians join their spirits in praise, worship and fellowship by singing together. This is obviously a key unifying practice of our faith.
This morning I had the pleasure of being with a group of long-time Christian friends. We met together for a time of devotion and sharing, but the first thing we did was sing!
I know that some of you readers are strongly connected with the music ministries in your churches. I look forward to your comments on this subject.
The quotation is from Robert C. Shannon, The New Testament Church. See Bibliography.