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Six Worship Music Principles
by Tom Goodman
May 20, 2009

It is both a pleasure and a challenge to plan worship services for a church family with such a wide age range.  Here are six principles from God's Word that guide us as we plan the music.

First, biblical worship uses a variety of musical instruments.  We should "sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments" (1 Chronicles 15:16).  Think of the wide variety of musical instruments in the Bible: drums and tambourines, "clashing" cymbals, stringed instruments, "loud" trumpets, wood instruments, and even a cappella singing (see 1 Chronicles 13:8; 15:16; 2 Chronicles 5:13; Isaiah 38:20; Psalm 150; Matthew 26:30).

Second, biblical worship includes untrained congregational singing AND trained skillful singing.  God wants the whole congregation to sing (Colossians 3:16), even while certain people are to be set aside to sing "skillfully" (1 Chronicles 25:6-7).

Third, biblical worship is expressive AND orderly.  As you read the Word, have you noticed how expressive people are in worship?  They're clapping and shouting (Psalm 47), lifting hands (1 Timothy 2:8), bowing down (Psalm 66), and responding with a verbal "Amen" (1 Corinthians 14:17).  At the same time, the Bible says, "God is not a God of disorder," and thus "everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" (1 Corinthians 13:33, 40).  So, we don't want to be a church that's expressive but not orderly.  Neither do we want to be a church that's orderly but not expressive.

Fourth, biblical worship includes songs of celebration AND songs of contemplation.  Some don't think a church service is reverent enough if the music is loud and boisterous; others don't think a church service has life if the music is reflective and earnest.  But in God's Word, sometimes I read about loud instruments and shouts of praise, and sometimes I read about bowing in hushed reverence in God's presence.  Seems to me God is pleased with both.

Fifth, biblical worship includes songs that express simple trust AND songs that express profound truth.  In our services, sometimes we need to sing simple, childlike expressions of trust, like the one sung in heaven's worship service in Revelation 4:11.  On the other hand, sometimes we need those songs that plumb the theological depths, like the ancient hymn Paul quoted in Philippians 2:6-11.

Sixth, biblical worship includes songs that are old and songs that are new.  In the Book of Revelation John described heaven's worship service where he heard "the song of Moses" (Revelation 15:2-3).  Talk about your old songs!  But he also heard "a new song" (5:9).  So, I think we need songs that have endured through the generations as well as songs that express the faith in contemporary ways.

Gene and Jim and I want services at Hillcrest to help you respond in biblical ways to the biblical truths about God.  It's a privilege for us to serve you in this way!


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