Monday, October 5, 2009

Christian Music Principle (5)

5. Music is richly diverse
At the outset, Principle (1) affirmed: Music is God's great gift to humankind. Its string of examples from the Old and New Testaments, from creation to multitudes filling the heavens, emphasize just how varied God's gift of music is in terms of content, style and accompaniment.

And in the early church, Col 3:16 interestingly describes different kinds of music too: "..with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God. " We shall never likely know how exactly these different musical forms contrasted in the early church. How did they differentiate between "hymns" and "spiritual songs"?

I agree with the commentator who says:
No rigid distinctions should be made between "psalm," "hymns," and "spiritual songs."...if any differences are made, "psalms" may be taken to refer to the OT psalter, "hymns" and "spiritual songs" to distinctly Christian compositions. The great periods of renewal in Christendom have always been accompanied by an outbursts of hymnology. (Vaughan in Expository Bible Commentary, Vol 11. p216.

But, importantly, the commentator adds: "Paul is simply emphasizing the rich variety in Christian song." Oh yes! (Though maybe not so simply!) Already this young church demonstrates a diversity of musical expression, presuming its richness of variety is how God's gives music. Variety is good. No one can be dogmatic that there is only ONE way to express congregational praise.

However, while acknowledging that a range of musical styles may occur when a church gathers to worship, this spells tension - as in the last principle coming up soon.

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