Saturday, September 19, 2009

Christian Music - Principle 2

2) Christian Music has two audiences
It’s no surprise that God, in Three Persons, is the most important audience. Music should please God. Psalm 96:1: “Sing to the Lord a new song” commands singing that is directed “to the Lord” - an offering for God’s sake. Harold Best notes that while “a new song” speaks of a newness arising out of vital faith , it also suggests that we should sing newly. “We can sing a truly new song only once , and thereafter we repeat it….singing a song newly means that we must sing the thousandth repetition as if for the first time.”[i] Pleasing God is primary. Worship celebrates who he is and his deeds of salvation. His attributes and story alone deserve worthship.

However, perhaps it is a surprise that there is a second audience. Christian music is for one another. Eph. 5: 19 emphasizes that music in worship has another audience while addressing God. “Speak to one another with psalms , hymns and spiritual songs’ emphasizes how worshipers testify to one another. This speaking to others is a vital aspect of music’s community building. Singing together enables each person to sound out faith in God , reinforced by the group’s unity. Many of us have known affirmation of faith when sounding out praises to God. Music in worship enables community togetherness like nothing else. As someone has said: "The human voice is the only musical instrument that God has directly created with equal access to music and singing for everyone.” The Reformers preferred congregational singing in unison , without instruments , so as to emphasize both the human voices and unity of the whole.

Perhaps you can recall your first experience of singing with a larger group. I remember belonging to a small youth group that was fairly self-conscious about singing , but going away to the missionary summer school where several hundred young people enthusiastically sang. The thrill of joining in that first hymn , (actually “How Great Thou Art”), certainly focused upon God's greatness, but it was partly about finding how much I belonged with others in Christ. Have you experienced anything like that?


wsuriano said...

There are few things that touch us at the deepest levels. There may be more, but I think of prayer, love, revelation concerning God and his creation, and music as fitting the bill. Each can produce in us an overwhelming sense of awe and humility - a state of the heart that transcends the ordinary. Are these things worship or do they help create that transcendent state of the heart that is or leads to real worship? In other words, as an example, is music a means to an end (worship) or the end (worship)in itself? Because each of the above pleases God, I think of each as worhips and yet, through them, we also reach that state of openness in which God can work in and through us even more. Worship then can be a reinforcing cycle leading us ever closer to our God. With music, I remember singing hymns with 60,000 other men at a Promise Keepers event. That really cut to the core of one's heart and bound us together in a community of believers that was both humbling and empowering at the same time.

dss said...

I agree with you both. Music has two audiences, God and one another. I find as I sing it frequently inspires me also to be more worshipful, to draw nearer to the Lord, as wsuriano mentioned that singing with a mighty group of believing men impacts him. I also find that while my intention is to please God, I do want to spur on my brothers and sisters in Christ in their faith.