New Testament Christians worshipped in a way not known to Jews or Old Testament worship. They sang together…simple, a cappella music (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). We know, both from scripture and from history, that instrumental music in worship was not an issue—never even introduced in worship—till hundreds of years after the church began. Leaders in denominations, which are today fully instrumental, were appalled when the organ was first introduced.
Historical Quotes About Music in Worship
The following is a series of quotes and their sources that I think that some readers will find enlightening, others will find them disturbing, and others interesting. I imagine all will find them a little ironic. I am not going to comment on them at all. They really speak for themselves.
Thomas Aquinas, Catholic Theologian; 13th century: “Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.” Bingham’s Antiquities, Vol. 2, p.483, London
John Calvin, Reformation Leader, Founder of Reformed & Presbyterian denominations: “Musical Instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. ” Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 33, see also commentary on 1 Samuel 18:1-9
John Wesley, Founder of Methodist Denomination: “I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither heard nor seen.” Cited by Methodist commentator Adam Clarke; Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. 4, p.684
Catholic Encyclopedia: “Although Josephus tells of the wonderful effects produced in the Temple by the use of instruments, the first Christians were of too spiritual a fibre to substitute lifeless instruments for or to use them to accompany the human voice. Clement of Alexandria severely condemns the use of instruments even at Christian banquets.” Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, p. 652
Martin Luther, Reformation Leader: “The organ in the worship service is a sign of Baal.” Realencyklopadie Fur Protestantische Theologie und Kirche, Bd, 14, s.433 cited in Instrumental Music and New Testament Worship, James D. Bales, p. 130.
Charles Spurgeon, Baptist Author/Pastor: “We might as well pray by machinery as sing by it” and “Israel was at school, and used childish things to help her learn; but in these days when Jesus gives us spiritual food, one can make melody without strings and pipes… we do not need them. That would hinder rather than help our praise. Sing unto Him. This is the sweetest and best music. No instrument like the human voice.” Charles Spurgeon, Commentary on Psalm 42
FINAL QUOTE (this is really the MOST important one on the whole page): “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16,17).
By Jon W. Quinn
The Front Page
From Expository Files 4.2; February 1997