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Music in the Church

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Music in the Church

September 19, 2007

“Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” Col 3:16b

1. Having the Word of Christ richly dwell in us produces not only information, but also emotion. It generates psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

2. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs - The main idea of psalms is a musical accompaniment, and that of hymns praise to God, while spiritual songs is the general word for a song, whether accompanied or unaccompanied, whether of praise or on any other subject. Thus it was quite possible for a song to be at the same time a “psalm,” a “hymn,” and a “spiritual song.”

3. In the text the reference to psalms, we may suppose, is especially, though not exclusively (1 Corinthians 14:26), to the psalms of David, which would in early times have formed part of the religious worship of the Christian brotherhood.

4. On the other hand, hymns would more appropriately designate those hymns of praise which were composed by the Christians themselves on distinctly Christian themes, being either set forms of words or spontaneous effusions of the moment.

5. The third term, spiritual songs, gathers up the other two and extends the precept to all forms of song, with the limitation however that they must be spiritual.

6. Psalmody and hymnody were highly developed in the religious services of the Jews at this time. They would thus find their way into the Christian church from the very beginning. (Acts 4:24; 16:25; 1 Corinthians 14:15, 26)

7. The reference is not solely or chiefly to public worship as such. Sing … in your hearts to God. This external manifestation must be accompanied by the inner emotion. There must be the thanksgiving of the heart as well as of the lips (Ephesians 5:19)

8. The psalms, hymns and spiritual songs were a vital part of teaching and admonition. Although the early Christians had access to the Old Testament and freely used it (thus, Paul’s reference to “psalms”), they did not yet have the New Testament or any other Christian books to study. Their stories and teachings about Christ were sometimes set to music to make them easier to memorize and pass on from person to person. Grounded in God’s Word and correct doctrine, music can be an important part of Christian worship and education.

9. While music can teach, its primary function is to praise God. As believers sing, they ought to do so with gratitude in their hearts (see 4:2). Again, the word “heart” refers to a person’s entire being. Gratitude to God overflows in praise.

10. When Paul tells believers to sing in your hearts he does not mean not to sing with the voice. His concern is that the heart agree with the mouth (Amos 5:23). Singing is to be directed to God as praise and worship offered to Him for His pleasure and glory.

11. Some believers today take this verse to mean that Paul envisioned “hymns only” singing in the church. This restriction appears however to miss the point. Paul piles up the terms to show the wide range of musical expression that grateful and heartfelt praise to God calls forth from the body of Christ.

12. The “new songs” of the Book of Revelation are themselves a study of early Christian worship. (Rev 4:8, 11; 5:9-10, 12-13; 7:10, 12; 11:15, 17-18; 12:10-12; 15:3-4; 19:1-8; 21:3-4)

13. Thankfulness puts all we have in the right perspective; God has given us what we need for service, comfort, expression, and recreation. Greediness or discontent signals an attitude that says to God, “I’m not getting much of a bargain here.” Thankful people can worship wholeheartedly. Gratitude opens our hearts to God’s peace and enables us to put on love. Discontented people constantly calculate what’s wrong with their lot in life.

14. To increase your thankfulness, take an inventory of all you have (include your relationships, memories, abilities, and family, as well as material possessions). Use the inventory for prayers of gratitude. When we gather together, before worship, quit rushing around and take time to reflect on reasons for thanks. Celebrate God’s goodness to you by humbling and remembering that you are His only because of His grace!


Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace. - Jerry Bridges

GracePointe Baptist Church

2209 N Post Road

Oklahoma City, OK 73141

Phone: (405) 769-5050

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