Who was Asaph?
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 (Edited 3/29/2008)
The ark of the covenant had been strangely absent from the land of Israel for many years. Finally, King David feels the time has arrived for the ark to be brought to the city of Jerusalem. This is to be a time of great rejoicing and celebration! David, the man after God's own heart, the sweet psalmist of Israel makes preparation to return the ark amid much fanfare, including the sounds of music performed by specially chosen Levites. Among these is a man called Asaph, who played the cymbals and probably sang as well on this important occasion. Asaph was the “chief.” He and his fellow musicians were to “thank and praise the Lord God of Israel,” according to I Chronicles 16:4. King David even wrote a special psalm, or song, to mark the event.
It seems like I have always been fascinated by this man called Asaph. We find that Asaph's career as a full-time musician (1 Chr. 16:37) included:
- singing (1 Chr. 15:19)
- playing musical instruments (cymbals, 1 Chr. 15:19)
- training other musicians
- composing psalms (Psalm 50, 73-83)
- publishing the psalms of David (1 Chr. 16:7)
- prophesying (called a seer, 2 Chr. 29:30)
- directing and training his own children to continue the ministry of music in the temple (1 Chr. 25:2, 6)
In a sense, the church musician of our day is a spiritual child of Asaph. Our goals, our standards of holiness and Biblical living, our dedication to God, the time and effort spent perfecting our craft, the content of our songs, and the level of musical excellence for which we strive should all reflect the ideals set for us by the man Asaph and his contemporaries
Does Music Matter?
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Let's be perfectly candid here. Church music in America is a mess. Many self-professing Christians have totally abandoned the idea that music and musical styles can be labeled as right or wrong, in spite of the fact that the Bible makes reference to music over 500 times. It seems the current prevailing philosophy is, “I'm a Christian, so any music I produce is therefore Christian.” Wow. We hear such statements as “This type of music 'blesses' me, so therefore, it is good music,” or “This type of music attracts young people, so it must be OK,” or “It's just the words that matter; the music is 'amoral.'”
The problem is, those who make such pronouncements totally ignore:
- The clear teaching of Scripture concerning music
- The obvious fact that music, apart from the lyrics, communicates a discernible message from the performer to the listener
Music That Touches the Soul
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 (Edited 8/2/2008)
I’d like to share a story with you. This event has had a profound influence on how I view the subject of music and the possibilities that music presents for the communication of a heartfelt message from the performer to the listener.
When I was in Jr. High School, our church had a singer come in to do a concert. This man apparently had perfect pitch, and his presentation went something like this: he would talk about a particular subject for a few moments, and then begin singing. After singing a phrase or two, he would begin to accompany himself on the piano. At one point, he began to talk about the joys of heaven, rejoining loved ones who are there, seeing the wonderful sights of heaven, and meeting Jesus. Then, in the midst of his talk, with a perfectly clear voice, right on pitch, he began to sing the song “Finally Home.” He sang,
- But just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven;
of touching a hand, and finding it God’s;
of breathing new air, and finding it celestial;
of waking up in glory, and finding it home.
My primary thought was not, “What a great singer.” It was not, “What a great song.” It was not, “What a great experience.” My thought was, “Heaven is real, it is home, and I can’t wait to get there!” What the singer thought, felt, experienced and knew became my own.
That day, for the first time, I experienced the true powers of communication found in this wonderful means of expression we call music. An invitation was held at the end of the service, and with the powerful message of the song resonating in my soul and spirit, I went forward and told the Lord if He would like to use me somehow in the area of music to influence others in the way that I had just been influenced, that I would consider it a privilege to do so. I surrendered my life and heart to God. Looking back, I know now that the Lord was preparing my heart for the ministry of music that He has called me to.
Lord, I Need You!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I clearly remember another experience in which a singer touched my soul. I was sitting in the choir loft behind the singer that day. I was at college, working on a master’s degree in sacred music. One of the ladies who taught voice lessons for the students, who had sung opera professionally before engaging in a full time music ministry with her husband, was singing a song by Ron Hamilton called “Lord, I Need You.”
Again, in an experience similar to the time I heard “Finally Home” sung for the first time, I was left in an internal state of mind that said, “Yes, Lord, I do need you. Desperately.” Again, I was not thinking of the quality of the singer’s voice, nor the cleverness of the song, nor the beauty of the music—only that I needed the Lord.
Understand this: music communicates on many different levels simultaneously. Your logic goes to work on the text, while your body responds to the rhythms. Your intellect sorts through and appreciates the creativity of the musical form, while your soul searches for meaning in the unified whole of the musical delivery. Your spirit can be motivated to cry out to God, or to reject His wooing.
Music in which the text, the musical style, the orchestration techniques, the performers presentation, and the expression techniques used by the musicians all combine to present a consistent message is a very powerful form of communication indeed!
Preaching to the Choir
Friday, March 28, 2008 (Edited 4/3/2008)
Musicians who perform in local churches have the responsibility to maintain certain ideals. The person who stands to sing or play a musical instrument in a church service should do everything in his power to remove anything in his life and presentation that would be a distraction from the message of the music he performs. The musician should be:
- Saved, born again (John 3:3-7, 1 Pet. 1:23)
- A new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 6:15)
- Not like the world (John 15:19, 1 John 2:15-17)
- Faithful to their local church (Heb. 10:25)
- In submission to their local church pastor (Heb. 13:17)
- A student of the Bible (Col. 3:16)
- Holy (1 Pet 1:15, 16)
- Filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:19)
- Humble (James 4:6, 1 Pet. 5:5)
- For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.
The fact is, your life communicates much more than your song ever will!
If the Devil Were a Musician...
Sunday, April 06, 2008 (Edited 4/9/2008)
He is, you know. When he was created by God, the Bible tells us in Ezekiel 28:13 that “tabrets” (tambourine, a percussion instrument) and “pipes” (probably something like a flute, a woodwind) were made as a part of his body. Isaiah 14:11 mentions the “noise of thy viols” (a psaltery, a stringed instrument of some kind). What he looks like or sounds like, I am sure I do not know, but regardless, Lucifer was given the ability to create musical sound.
This brings up the interesting discussion about whether or not angels sing. The only Bible reference I know of that seems to indicate angels singing is Job 38:7, where God asks Job, “[Where were you] when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” The format of Hebrew poetry indicates a parallel between the “morning stars” and the “sons of God.” If the morning stars, then, are interpreted to equal the sons of God, and the sons of God are understood to be angels, then the angels sang at the time of creation. Ezekiel 28:13 does say that Lucifer was in “Eden, the garden of God.” Notice also the similarity between the phrase in which Lucifer is called the “son of the morning” in Isaiah 14:12 and the wording of this mention of the “morning stars/sons of God” in Job 38. A case could then be made for the idea that the Devil is probably a singer as well.
I know that in our present culture, great derision is attached to the idea that a certain type of music could be labeled the Devil's music, but let's consider what kind of music the Devil would produce if he were a musician. His music would be characterized by:
- Rebellion against authority, specifically God's authority (Gen. 3:1, Is. 14:14, Matt. 4:9, Luke 4:6, 7)
- Questioning God's love (Gen. 3:4, 5; Job 1:9-11)
- Emphasis on the material and physical instead of the spiritual (Matt. 4:3, Luke 4:3)
- Emphasis on man instead of God (Mark 8:33, Matt. 16:23)
- Violence (Ez. 28:16)
- Promotion of the breaking of God's moral law (1 Cor. 7:5)
- Selfishness and pride (Isa. 14:13, 14; Ez. 28:17)
As a side note, it is interesting that in Exodus 32:16, 17, when Moses and Joshua came down from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Law, they mistook the sound of idolatrous music coming from the Israelite camp for the “noise of war.” The music was, presumably, loud, percussive and violent. You will, of course, remember the great rebellion and immorality that also accompanied the idolatry.
Do you know of any musical forms or styles that fit the description of the Devil's music? You make the call
Jubal, Father of Musical Instruments
Tuesday, April 08, 2008 (Edited 4/10/2008)
Jubal is called the “the father of all such as handle the harp and organ” in Genesis 4:21. Jubal was the 7th generation from Adam. It is interesting to note that Jubal was of the line of Cain, not the line of Seth. His polygamist father, Lamech, apparently killed a man in self-defense. His brother Jabal was the first nomad and keeper of cattle. His half brother Tubalcain was “an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron.” Sounds like a fairly noteworthy family to me.
So, Jubal introduced the production of musical instruments and the playing of them into the world. The “harp” would be a stringed instrument of some kind, and the "organ," a wind instrument, most likely a reed instrument.
Here we learn that in the pre-flood world, man had learned to do some pretty remarkable things, such as domesticate animals, work with metals, and excel in the fine arts. All of these things, of course, would have affected and influenced Noah and his family many years later, through whom the entire pre-flood world's population and culture bottlenecked. Obviously, Noah and his family were accomplished in many areas, such as woodworking, metalworking, animal husbandry, food preparation, and the like. Think about it: Noah was six hundred years old when he went into the ark, and surely he and his family of eight had had exposure to music and musical instruments.
I would presume, that if all musical knowledge had died with the pre-flood culture, that Genesis 4:21 would not be worded that Jubal was “the father of all such.”
It is amazing to see how far back in ancient history we can go to find the origins of man's music
God Did Not Create Music
Saturday, April 12, 2008 (Edited 3/2/2009)
Before you label me a heretic, consider the following: God never changes, God has always been, and always will be. The Bible teaches us that this eternal, unchanging God encourages, enables, and participates in musical activity. As a matter of fact, Exodus 15:12, Psalm 118:14, and Isaiah 12:2 all tell us that the Lord is our song. Therefore, music is a part of God's eternal, unchanging character. God did not create music, He is musical. Man is musical, because man was made in God's image (Genesis 1:27).
Notice the following passages, in which we learn that all three persons of the Godhead are involved in music.
God the Father sings, according to Zephaniah 3:17:
- “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
- "And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.”
- “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.”
- "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee."
- "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
- "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."
Music vs. Lyrics
Monday, April 14, 2008
How many times have we heard from the proponents of contemporary “Christian” music that only the words matter? Musical styles, they say are “amoral,” which means that music apart from lyrics cannot be labeled as right or wrong.
Music and musical style could be labeled amoral if, indeed, music does not communicate anything apart from the lyrics.
Any time communication takes place, there is a moral element. For example, putting words together in certain orders and contexts can create blasphemy, hateful speech, seductive language, etc. Putting lines and shapes together in certain patterns can create pornographic, lewd, or obscene pictures. Speaking, writing, drawing, sculpting, and any other way in which a person communicates becomes a medium with a moral context. To deny the moral aspect of music is to deny it's ability to communicate.
The fact is that music and musical styles do indeed communicate. As a matter of fact, the music of a song communicates on a far deeper level than the words alone do.
As a simple example, consider this song contained in the popular children's movie, Mary Poppins. There is a scene in which Mary Poppins, the nanny, is trying to get the two children in her care to go to sleep. As the children are lying in their beds, Mary Poppins sings a song. The words are:
- Stay awake, don't rest your head
Don't lie down upon your bed
While the moon drifts in the skies
Stay awake, don't close your eyes
Though the world is fast asleep
Though your pillow's soft and deep
You're not sleepy as you seem
Stay awake, don't nod and dream
Stay awake, don't nod and dream
Here are some observations to consider:
- Musical style can communicate a different message than the words. In this case, the message of the music is the exact opposite of the message contained in the words.
- Musical style communicates on different levels than the words. On an emotional level, the music in our example communicates peace, lack of stress, gentleness. On a physical level, the music in our example communicates softness, relaxation, calmness, lying still, breathing slow.
- Musical style communicates a message that is stronger than the words. In our example, the words become basically irrelevant, except possibly as a cute example of “reverse psychology.”
An Audience of One
Friday, May 02, 2008 (Edited 2/12/2011)
Have you ever stopped to consider what the bottom line is when it comes to your life? You know, the age-old question of “why am I here?” and “what is the meaning of life?” Those who truly seek for honest answers find one of two conclusions: either life as we know it just happened as a result of some freak accident of nature, or we were created by some superior, intelligent being. In our current culture, (and apparently throughout history, I might add) these two ideas are war with one another, as seen in the evolution vs. creationism debate. Both sides have the same observable facts to consider, and both sides tend to rule out the remote possibility that the other viewpoint could have any merit. The funny thing is, few people realize that the reason they choose one philosophy over the other is because of their own previously chosen belief systems and lifestyle preferences.
Observable scientific processes confirm the fact that life does not happen by chance (spontaneous generation does not occur), and living things do not have any mechanism whereby they can change into other forms (mutations only scramble existing genetic information, and natural selection can only weed out non-beneficial, environment specific genetic information). The alternative, of course, is that our cosmos and everything in it was created by a “god.” Search it out, and you'll come to the conclusion that the only choice of “gods” that makes any sense at all, is the God of the Bible.
However, this discussion is not about such debates. We will approach the subject of music from the viewpoint that God is real, that His word is true, and that He cares about what we do. We must consider what He thinks about the subject. God, and the truth that He embodies cannot be separated from any aspect of our existence.
He is the ultimate audience for all we do. Our actions, our thoughts, our passions, our relationships, everything we are, and all we do, are in His view. Our standing to sing or play an instrument is no different. The Bible teaching is, that one day, we will all give account to God of what we have done (Rev. 14:12).
So why do you sing? Why do you play your instrument?
In both the Old and New Testaments we are told to “sing to the Lord.” He is the focus of our music. Our music is not for entertainment, or amusement, or show, or self-promotion. We perform in His presence, for His pleasure, to fulfill the purpose for which we were created (Rev. 4:11). We must reflect His desires, His doctrine, His lifestyle and His truth. We sing a new song (Psalm 40:3), to the Lord (Psalm 96:2), for the edification of believers (Colossians 3:16), as a testimony of what He has done (Psalm 118:14).
The 3-Way Influence of Music
Wednesday, May 21, 2008 (Edited 6/1/2011)
Have you ever heard someone make the statement, “It doesn't matter what kind of music I listen to. It doesn't affect me at all?” Are we really impervious to any influence that music may have on us?
Remember the story of King Saul in I Samuel 16, where the Bible says that the Spirit of God departed from Saul and an “evil spirit” troubled him? His servants, wanting to help, told him he should let them find a musician to come and play for him. As the story goes, David was called to the king's house, because he was “cunning in playing.”
Notice what happened when David played his harp for King Saul. (By the way, as far as we can tell from Scripture, this was purely instrumental music, no words were sung.) The music affected Saul in three distinct ways: “Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.”
- “Refreshed” – this word means “to breathe freely.” The music affected Saul physically. In this case, the music caused Saul to be able to physically relax; he was freed from physical tension.
- “Was well” – he was cheered, he began to do better. This indicates how the music affected his soul, which includes the mind, will and emotions. He was encouraged, his attitude toward life was changed.
- “The evil spirit departed” – our spirit is that part of us that relates to God. The music had a spiritual influence on Saul. David's harp playing was able to help Saul return to a condition where his spirit could again communicate with God.
It is not difficult to find current examples of music where certain groups of people attempt to utilize these aspects of musical influence.
- Physically - Music therapy is one field of study that uses music to help people improve physical and mental wellness.
- Mentally & emotionally - Have you ever noticed how important a movie sound track is in making the audience feel the emotions involved in the storyline?
- Spiritually - Think of different religious movements and the types of music associated with them. Consider the music of new age, eastern mysticism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholics, Protestants, or Baptists.
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
God Has No "Gray Areas"
Wednesday, July 16, 2008 (Edited 8/2/2008)
Because music has the ability to communicate a message, music can be judged to be good or bad. Using the Bible as our standard of what is right and wrong frees us from the subjective quagmire of personal opinion about whether or not a particular piece of music is appropriate for us to hear. Anyone who takes a candid, unbiased listen to a song while comparing it's sounds, rhythms and lyrics to Scripture should be able to make a clear judgment concerning it's morality.
God does not view any activity that man is involved in as being morally neutral; He has no “gray areas.” Music is no exception to this principle. God does not want us to be unsure about whether or not the music we are listening to pleases Him. The problem is, many of us have not yet learned to deny the flesh in favor of being obedient to God's Word. Instead, we lash out at anyone who would dare “criticize” our personal tastes.
Good music is not a matter of taste or personal opinion, it is a matter of giving God control of our will, basing our musical activities and attitudes on the principles of Scripture.
Let's think about this for a minute; get a picture in your mind of your favorite CD. If the Lord were to convict you through His Word and the working of His Holy Spirit that this CD was wrong for you as a Christian to listen to, would you be willing to throw it away? Does the very question cause a feeling of resentment or rebellion to well up in your heart? You have not yet surrendered your will to Him. Do we not yet understand that God always has our best interest in mind, and knows what is ultimately good for us? Why do we try so hard to have our own way instead of giving Him the benefit of the doubt and ensuring that our music pleases Him?
Just as there are certain books we should not read, certain magazines we should not look at, certain drinks we should not partake of, certain movies we should not watch, there are songs, music forms and styles, etc. that we should not have in our lives
A Musical See-Saw
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
When I was a small child, I really enjoyed going to the park to play on the playground equipment. I think my favorite may have been the twister slide, you know, the one that seemed like it was a mile high and went down in a corkscrew shape. Of course, I really enjoyed clambering about on the support bars like some sort of wild monkey. Back then, playgrounds had equipment that was deemed to be fun, and manufacturers were not as concerned about lawsuits and liability as they are today.
One of the common pieces of equipment on every playground was a device known as a see-saw or teeter-totter. It was a long, thick board balanced across a fulcrum or support in the exact center of the board. Ideally, two children who weighed approximately the same would sit on either end of the board and would alternately jump up, making the other end go down, and then sit heavily on the board to cause their end to go back down, making the other end rise. Up and down we would go, entertaining ourselves for a few moments. Sometimes, the child on the other end would fall off or jump off, causing my end to crash down to the ground, and knocking me off in the process as well.
Music preferences and standards tend to be like that. When we get too much weight or momentum on one end or the other, we can have the tendency to fall off into areas that we should not be in. I tend to categorize the two ends of the musical see-saw as folk-type music styles on one end, with the more classical, educated types of music on the other end. Within this spectrum, there are many fine examples of music that are fit for human consumption and are perfectly legitimate pieces of music for the Christian to listen to.
The problem comes when fall off one end or the other. The negative aspects of folk-type music tend to be issues like rebellion, immorality, freedom from all restraint, music that appeals to the flesh predominately, music for purely amusement or entertainment, etc. Classical music can become an overly intellectual exercise, can promote arrogance and disdain for those who have not been trained in it, and can become an arena for man to promote the idea that life is meaningless and purposeless. Just listen to some of the horrendous 20th century classical pieces.
Both ends of the musical teeter-totter have their problems. Both extremes should be avoided by Christians. I like to think of the issue this way: some music reaches the foot, some music reaches the head, but as a Christian, I want to reach the heart.
So instead of referencing our music as being of a “higher” standard (which is more often applied to classical styles of Christian music) or “lower” standard (the folk music type), we really ought to be thinking about having a more balanced, Biblical music standard. Music should not speak to us primarily physically, nor should it speak to us primarily intellectually. Music should speak to us on a spiritual level. It should be “balanced,” so that it reaches our spirit, that part of us that relates to God.
Music Success Posters
Thursday, August 14, 2008 (Edited 8/18/2008)
I am sure many of you have seen the ever-popular motivational posters, or success posters. They generally consist of a striking, eye-catching photograph of some kind, labeled with an emotion-rich word, followed by a thought-provoking quote.
True success is only measured by how closely our activities align with the principles of Scripture.
The Bible has much to say about musical success. If I were to develop a series of posters based on scriptural music principles, they would read something like this:
Excellence - (1Ch 15:22) And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skillful.
Creativity - (Psa 144:9) I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.
Holiness - (Psa 29:2) Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Greatness - (1Ch 23:5) Four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.
Education - (1Ch 25:6, 7) All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight.
Organization - (2Ch 5:12) Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets.)
Unity - (2Ch 5:13) It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD.
Dedication - (1Ch 9:33) And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.
Joy - (Psa 98:4-6) Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
Beauty - (Psa 147:1) Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
Inspiration - (2Ki 3:15) But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him [Elisha the prophet].
Revival - (Eph 5:18, 19) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
Ministry - (Col 3:16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Thanksgiving - (Psa 147:7) Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God.
Praise - (Psa 28:7) The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
Witness - (Psa 18:49) Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.
Testimony - (Psa 40:1-3) I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and
Be a Blessing, Not a Distraction
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 (Edited 1/6/2009)
The Christian music performer's goal is to point each listener to Christ. The audience's attention should not be drawn to the singer, nor to the song, but to the Savior. The effective singer is able to focus his performance on the message of the song, nothing else. In order to do so, he must have a canny ability to “seek and destroy” anything that would detract from the vibrant expression of the message. Here are some distractions to look for:
- Dressed sloppy
- Dressed gaudy
- Vocal style that causes the listener to be impressed
- Vocal style that causes the listener to be disgusted
- Flashy performance
- Pitch problems
- Rhythm problems
- Excessive vibrato
- Harsh vocal timbre
- Overly breathy
- Breathing in the middle of words
- Breathing in the middle of phrases
- Singing a song in which the lyrics and the music are not fitted
- Words that are not clearly understood
- Distorted vowels
- Pronouncing words in a dialect other than that used by the audience
- Facial expressions which do not match the text
- Distracting motions and bodily movement
- Holding a microphone in front of your mouth, covering the bottom half of your face
- Tilting your head back too far (makes you look arrogant)
- Tilting your head too far forward (makes you appear not confident)
- Poor posture
- Forgetting the words
- Poor eye contact
- Attempting to sing notes above or below your range
- Singing too loud or too soft
- Attempting to sound like someone else
Remember, the listener will focus on whatever the singer focuses on, and the whole purpose of the singer's delivery is the transmission of a message from his heart to the heart of the audience.
Striving for Excellence
Monday, January 12, 2009
The Bible teaches us that we are to desire to be knowledgeable, educated, instructed, skillful, and wise. Consider the book of Proverbs, which is filled with admonitions concerning gaining wisdom and knowledge. Here are a couple of sample verses:
- "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." (Pro 4:7)
- "Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life." (Pro 4:13)
- "And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him." (1Sa 16:17-18)
- "And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful." (1Ch 15:22)
- "All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight." (1Ch 25:6-7)
- "Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." (Psa 33:3)
- "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2Ti 2:15)
This is why we have begun developing Asaph Music School. We desire to offer good people in good churches the opportunity to increase their personal music skill levels. Our students are able to take advanced music training on their own time, at their own pace, at their own location. Be sure to check out what we have to offer
The Song that Won a War
Monday, January 19, 2009
2 Chronicles 20 tells an incredible story. King Jehoshaphat heard the unsettling news that the Ammonites and the Moabites, as well as the armies of other antagonistic nations, were coming to fight against him. He then made a very smart move: he immediately sought the Lord's wisdom and help, and called all of Judah together for a prayer meeting. Jehoshaphat stood in the temple and gave an incredible, passionate prayer to God, ending with the words "neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee."
What humility! What faith! What reliance on God! The amazing reply to Jehoshaphat's prayer came through a Levitical musician named Jahaziel, one of the "sons of Asaph," who was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. He said, "The battle is not yours, but God's. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you. Fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you."
Jehoshaphat, upon hearing this good news, reassured his people, "Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper." He then did something radical, unexpected, and seemingly foolish. He appointed singers to go out in front of the army against the enemies of God. The song they sang went like this:
- "Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever."
A simple song of praise from faithful men of God brought down the presence and power of God. They returned to Jerusalem with great songs of victory: "Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies. And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD."
Here is the principle:
- Praising God brings God's presence.
Do you desire God's presence? Try praising Him in song.
Who Writes the Music of Your Life?
Monday, January 26, 2009
Philosophically, I am a Bible-believer; that is, I have made a conscious choice to accept the teachings of the Bible as truth. I accept what the Bible says at face value. In other words, as I read the Scriptures, I simply take things that I read as truth. Poetry is understood as poetry. History is taken as history. Scientific observations are taken as scientific observations.
I have lived long enough to understand that there are as many opinions about what is truth as there are people in the world. Both sides of any issue can be argued passionately and persuasively. I understand that people can and will oppose what I believe and what the Bible teaches. However, I have decided to take my stand with the Bible. It presents a reasonable, workable, and believable framework from which to evaluate any teaching or opinion. Personal observation and experience confirms that Bible principles, when followed, produce the promised results. Faith, in reality, is not blind: faith works!
With that in mind, I believe that the music we allow as part of our lives should be evaluated in light of Scripture. One often overlooked principle of Scripture is that the men and women who produce the music that we allow into our life, ought to meet a certain level of holiness and godliness. We need to evaluate singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, music teachers and music directors by the following criteria:
- Godliness -- Asaph (2 Chr. 29:30), Heman (1 Chr. 25:5), Jeduthun (2 Chr. 35:15), and Jahaziah (2 Chr. 20:14), all influential Bible musicians were "seers," or "prophets." A prophet was simply someone whom God used to communicate His message to the people of their day. They received special revelation from God. They knew God on a personal level, and walked with Him. In today's understanding, we could say they were godly preachers. How about other songwriters, such as Moses and David, godly leaders who had a special relationship with God.
- Excellence -- Chenaniah "instructed about the song, because he was skillful" (1 Chr. 15:22). David was "cunning in playing" (1 Sam. 16:18). Two hundred eighty-eight music teachers were described as "cunning" (1 Chr. 25:7).
- Holiness -- Old testament musicians were all Levites; that is, they were from the tribe of Levi and were set apart as priests. They were required to meet certain standards of behavior in order to serve as priests. You'll recall the stories of priests who failed to meet those standards and were killed by God, such as Nadab and Abihu, who offered "strange fire" before the Lord (Lev. 10:1); the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, who were immoral (1 Sam. 4:11); Uzzah, a Levite who touched the ark, which should have been carried by the staves (2 Sam. 6:7).
- Bible knowledge (Col. 3:16) -- Christian musicians should have a thorough knowledge of the Bible and it's teachings and should live in adherence to Bible principles.
- Spirit filled (Eph. 5:18) -- Christian musicians should exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
- Harlots (Isa. 23:16)
- Fools (Ecc. 7:5)
- Idol Worshipers (Ex. 32:17, 18; Daniel 3)
All Things To All Men
Monday, February 02, 2009 (Edited 2/12/2011)
"To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." (1Co 9:22)
Based on 1 Corinthians 9:22, would the Apostle Paul have approved of the use of worldly music to reach unsaved people? What about this idea that you meet people where they are, using their own habits, addictions and lifestyles to "relate" to them so that you might have the opportunity to present them with the Gospel?
It becomes clear through a careful reading of the passage that Paul is not discussing engaging in unscriptural practices in order to somehow gain a more favorable opinion of himself. Rather, he was teaching that in order to rid his life of distractions that would hinder his presentation of the good news, he was willing to lay aside certain freedoms that he had in Christ. For example, to witness to Jewish listeners, he would place himself under additional Jewish laws and customs that were far stricter than the lifestyle restrictions placed upon him by being a follower of Jesus Christ. Paul was not willing to do anything that would drag another person lower in holiness. Read the following passage to see how carefully he would avoid misleading others:
- "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." (1Co 8:6-13)
The use of worldly music styles to evangelize the lost is a misguided attempt to justify the means by supposedly producing a good end result. God never condones the use of worldly, fleshly, or devilish means to witness to the unsaved.
Does this mean that there is a Biblical problem with "Christian Rock?" Certainly! Neither Paul nor Christ would excuse the practice of using wicked behavior to win the lost. It is no more right to call worldly music "Christian" than it would be to use terms like "Christian pornography" or "Christian murder" or "Christian thievery" or "Christian drunkenness." Those who have turned to Christ have turned from these things.
So, let's be "all things to all men" in the sense that Paul intended. Let's remove the stumbling blocks from our lives, so that we can be clearer, brighter "lights" (Matt. 5:14) and tastier "salt" (Matt. 5:13) to those around us.
Overtones Reveal the Nature of God
Monday, February 09, 2009 (Edited 2/23/2009)
When a string on a stringed instrument is struck or plucked, a complex series of vibrations is set in motion. First, the string vibrates as a whole, creating the fundamental pitch, which is then perceived as the primary tone being played.
However, the string also vibrates in halves, each portion of the string producing another distinct pitch, exactly an octave above the fundamental. The string vibrates in thirds as well, creating a third distinct tone, much quieter and much more difficult to discern. The string is also vibrating in fourths, fifths, sixths, etc., each smaller portion of the string creating it's own unique overtone, or harmonic. The frequencies of these overtones are mathematical in nature. Pythagoras, of Pythagorean Theorem fame, worked out the mathematical relationships of theses overtones in the 6th century B.C.
The strength of these overtones, some weaker, some stronger, and the interaction between these overtones, the fundamental, and the body of the instrument itself helps create the unique timbre of each different instrument. As a matter of fact, these overtones play a role in vocal timbre as well, and even in our perception of spoken vowels and consonants.
Our traditional, Western style of music is based on these qualities inherent in the very physics of sound. You will notice that the fundamental tone plus the first five overtones creates a major chord. This is the reason why the sound of a major chord sounds consonant to our ears. It is a natural result of the way sound works, as God created it.
The interesting phenomenon of overtones, combined with another principle of physics called "sympathetic vibration," can be used to effectively illustrate the Biblical concept of the Trinity, the doctrine of one God manifested in three Persons (1 John 5:7, 2 Cor. 13:14, Matt. 28:19).
- At any ordinary piano (not an electric keyboard or organ), slowly and quietly press down on the C key, two octaves below middle C. Do not allow the hammer to hit the string. Now, hold the key down while playing the notes middle C, E (above middle C), then G (above middle C) one at a time. As you play and release each note, with the low C still held down, listen for the sympathetic vibrations of each tone ringing on the low C string. After having played and released all three of the notes in the C major chord, you should be able to hear the vibrations of all three pitches still ringing clearly and distinctly on the one low C string.
The study of the physics of sound gives us a small glimpse into the personality and character of God. We learn that God is a God of order, of beauty, of creativity and has given us a wonderful tool with which to praise and worship Him!
How Can I Be Relevant to the Culture?
Monday, February 16, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
You do realize, I hope, that some questions have no answer. The reason is that some questions are intrinsically flawed. Let me ask you this question, "Which do you hate more, your father or your mother?" How about this classic, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" The questions themselves are making false implications that any decent man should resent. The reply should be, "I do not hate either my father or my mother," and "I never started beating my wife!"
So how about this question of whether or not I am relevant to the culture? This whole idea has become rampant in "Christian" circles that reject the clear teachings of Scripture. Who says the Christian is supposed to be relevant to the culture? We are to be "relevant" only in the sense that we are to be about effecting change in our world, winning souls to Christ, and helping converts become more like Christ. We can only inspire and effect these changes if we are different from the world. What call is there to embrace cultural elements that reject the Lord? These things lead only to death.
- "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)
Meditate on the following Scriptures:
- "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:19)
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (1John 2:15-17)
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and
Hit What You Aim For
Monday, February 23, 2009 (Edited 2/25/2009)
Does your music truly move the heart of the listener? Can you sense a deep level of communication with the audience when you sing? Are you performing with the goal of life change?
It has been said that when you aim for nothing, you hit it every time. As a Christian musician, we must maintain the Biblical goals of teaching and admonishing fellow believers, and praising the Lord (Col. 3:16). To "teach" means our songs should inform the listener of correct Biblical truths and principles. To "admonish" means to caution, reprove, and warn. To "praise the Lord" involves telling others how good He is, and thanking God for His many blessings.
According the the scriptures, man is composed of three parts, the body, soul and spirit. The body is a person's physical being, with a face and hair and skin and bones. The soul is a person's intellect, his mind, will, and emotions. The spirit is our innermost being, the part of us that relates to God. Before salvation, a person's spirit is dead, unable to appreciate, understand or communicate with God. After salvation, God's Holy Spirit indwells our body, making it His temple (1 Cor. 6:19), allowing every believer to commune one-on-one with the Creator (Rom. 8:16), and to understand the truths of Scripture (John 16:13).
For a musician to truly effect a heart change in the life of a fellow believer through music, he must be able to reach past the listener's body, and even deeper than the listener's soul, all the way into the listener's innermost being and touch his spirit.
The key to reaching a person's spirit is this: the performer himself must be filled with the Holy Spirit, because it is the Holy Spirit that communicates, guides, and teaches another person's spirit (Rom. 8:16). Let me remind you of the following passage of scripture:
- "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." (Eph 5:18-19)
We must be filled with the Holy Spirit as we sing, allowing Him to communicate through us. Our performance must not be done for the sake of pride, aesthetics, intellect, or power, but be done humbly in the Holy Spirit's power for the purpose of communicating the truth of God's Word.
Then we will be empowered to hit the right target.
Aim for the heart!
Find Your Unique Voice
Monday, March 02, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
It is said that when a violinist obtains a new violin, it can take years for the player to discover and optimize the unique voice that that particular violin has. His goal is to allow the instrument to sing with it's own special sound.
Just as the master violinist seeks to allow the violin to sing with it's own voice, so the singer should seek to allow his own voice, free from imitation, distractions and restrictions, to openly express the feelings of his heart.
Have you ever heard someone sing, and as they were performing you were wondering who exactly it was that they were trying to imitate? You thought that perhaps they had a favorite artist that they really enjoyed and that they were doing their best to recreate the other person's performance. How much better it would be that they try to sound like themselves, as God intended them to.
You are not someone else, you are God's own unique creation, and you ought to do your best to sound as good as your own individual voice will allow.
I have had some favorite singers over the years whom I have greatly admired. As a young person, I greatly enjoyed the mellow baritone voice of Ron Hamilton. As a teenager, I appreciated the strong, vibrant voice of my home church music director. As a college student, I coveted the beautiful, clear tenor voice of a fellow student. As a graduate level student, I thrilled to the powerful, operatic voices of my voice teachers.
However, I have had to personally realize that I am none of those people, nor do I sound like any of them. My vocal strength lies in being a clear, smooth, baritone singer. I must strive to be the best that I can be, within the parameters of the capabilities that God has given me alone. I must not even worry about comparing my meager abilities with those of others.
Consider 2 Corinthians 10:12:
- "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
Have you ever heard someone sing a song that obviously did not match their personality, abilities, or experience? How about a child singing a song about the great trials of life that they obviously have never experienced? How about a low voice singer trying to hit the very high note at the end of a song? How about a person with a very sober personality singing about the ecstasy of knowing Christ? In each of these examples, the singer's trying to sing a song that did not fit them personally created a distraction.
Just as the music of each song ought to agree with and enhance the text that is being sung, so the singer's voice, his personality, his life ought to agree with and enhance the song that is being sung. Each song that a singer chooses ought to touch a tender spot deep within his own heart, and ought to be able to be expressed by the singer's own unique voice.
The singer should try reciting the lyrics of a song out loud, as if they were his own words, removing as much as possible the poetic rhythms as he speaks. He should speak the words clearly and expressively, as though he had written them himself. I was in a class setting one time with about a dozen people where we actually did this as an exercise in learning to communicate better. As we recited the words of some of the classic hymns, none of us was able to complete a song with breaking into tears.
Allow the unique, new song that God has given you to communicate to others. Many of us are not song writers, but when we perform, the song must become our own heartfelt cry. Open a wide tunnel to your soul, then do your best to guide the listeners to that place in your heart that the music touches, so that they can be touched by it as well.
- The LORD
Pass It On
Monday, March 09, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
My earliest recollections of singing go back to when I was probably about 5 years old. I remember the family devotion time that we had every week night. Dad would read from the Bible, and we would sing songs. Mom would sometimes play along on a small chord organ. We children learned to sing many songs and choruses together as a family. As we grew older, my brother and I were allowed on occasion to sing specials together in a worship service. Once in a while, I even sang solos.
I remember Mom taking us along when she went to church choir practice, and we would either sit in the pew and listen, or sometimes we were allowed to run around the property and play. I thrilled to hear the church choir sing and could not wait to be old enough to be allowed to sing in the choir. When I reached Jr. High age, I was finally able to join the choir. I remember sitting next to the men in the choir as they instructed me to watch the notes on the page as they went up and down, and to make my voice go up and down with them.
I remember when I first learned to sing harmony. It was on a bus trip coming home from some school activity, and one of the adult leaders was singing tenor along with the chorus that everyone on the bus was singing. I started making up my own harmonies, and learned to enjoy singing different parts.
As a young man, at a concert put on at our church by a male vocalist, the Lord touched my heart about the matter of serving Him in the area of music. I began to understand the power that music has to touch the lives of other people, and desired to have some small influence on others through my music.
As a college student, I viewed the future with unabashed wonder. Certain musical activities and abilities intrigued me. I thought it would be tremendous to have the capabilities of doing certain musical things, such as composing, conducting and recording music. I tried to learn everything I could to be a better musician.
As a college graduate, I clearly saw and understood my own personal limits, and wished for guidance in overcoming those deficiencies. I longed for a mentor, someone who would take me under their wing and give me real-world experience and training. I went back to school to obtain a master's degree in Sacred Music.
Over the years I have known several great, Godly music men, and read the biographies of others, whom I have admired, respected, and desired to emulate. My problem has always been, however, that I have not been able to develop a personal relationship with any of them. I have had to observe their lives from afar to glean whatever useful information I could.
Because I have never had a personal mentor, I have done my best over the years to be one. I have never tried to be some great musical guru that others become dependent upon for musical direction; rather, I have attempted to train musicians to make the music they perform their own, to have the personal skills necessary to be independent musicians with a song in their own heart. I have tried to encourage, train and motivate others to know God, to know good music, to know their own heart, and know how to communicate to others through their music, even better than I do.
So, how about you? Are you willing to mentor others? In a culture gone bizarrely awry, the next generation needs you to set the pace, to set the standard, to pass along what you have been given.
Train other musicians to know God, to know His word, to understand the principles of Godly music, and to communicate the truths of God's Word with passion, excellence, and beauty.
- Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-16
The Last Song
Monday, March 16, 2009
Toward the end of the book of Revelation, as we read about events that will occur in the future, we come to the last reference to music in the Bible. This "last song" is a great song of praise to God. Notice the context: the singers are believers who refused to worship the beast or to take the mark of the beast. Also notice the reference to instruments of music, called the "harps of God."
- "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest." (Revelation 15:2-4)
- "I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The LORD shall reign for ever and ever. For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea." (Exodus 15:1-19)
Tips for Special Music
Monday, March 23, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
Special music is an important part of the music program in most churches. Solos, duets, trios, quartets and other ensembles can really set the tone for the entire service. Normally, the special music occurs toward the last part of the worship service preliminaries, which should all point toward the preaching of God's Word. Special music is not merely entertainment nor a time filler. It is imperative that we consider how to make the special as distraction free as possible, to focus the audience's attention on the Lord and on the state of their own hearts. Here is a list of several important thoughts on how church musicians can make the special music truly special, heartfelt and meaningful.
- Don't use a hand held microphone if it is not necessary
- Don't cover your mouth with the microphone - part of your overall intelligibility consists in the audience being able to read your lips
- When holding a mic, hold it below your chin, pointed towards your mouth and sing over it, not at it
- Avoid using microphones with brightly colored pop filter foam covers - they make the singer look silly
- Don't use the microphone as a prop, gesturing with it, etc.
- Don't adjust your volume level with the mic by pushing it away from or pulling it towards your mouth
- Don't play with the mic cable while singing
- Don't make faces, gestures, or talk to the sound man while singing
- When using the pulpit mic, make sure it is adjusted, pointed toward your mouth (not too high or low), before the song begins
- Don't sing away from the mic when looking from side to side - either move the mic, or, better yet, move your head so it is always pointing towards the mic
- When using a mic on a stand, don't hold the stand or move it with your hand
- Consider purchasing good wireless mics - cords can get tangled easily and become a distraction
- Don't preach or jabber before your song - you are not the pastor
- If you get emotional and start crying, don't forget to breathe
- The singer's main focus should be on his own internal dialogue concerning the content of the song
- Don't stop and restart the song if you make a mistake, just keep going
- Only glance at the music when necessary - know the song well enough that you are not sight reading
- Make eye contact with at least one person in every section
- Don't look at the back wall or the ceiling - you are communicating with people
- Be conscious of your body language - sticking your nose up in the air makes you appear haughty, holding your face too low makes you appear timid, etc.
- Emphasize words that would normally be emphasized when speaking
- Make good use of "word color"
- Allow the rhythm to ebb and flow with the content of the song
- Don't focus on the "beauty" of your sound, only on the sincerity of your experience
- Never breathe in the middle of a word
- Never breathe in the middle of a thought
- Always sing in as relaxed a manner as possible, but with as much energy as possible
- Don't go for the high note if you can't sing it
- Make good use of dynamics - the whole song should never be sung as loud as you can muster
- Never try to imitate someone else - be yourself
- Move to the podium with purpose. Don't run, and don't wander
- If you make a mistake, don't look embarrassed, roll your eyes, grin, etc., just press on as if nothing happened
- If you forget the words, just make something up that makes sense at the moment and sing it with passion
- Wait until the song (including the accompaniment) is completely over before leaving the podium
- maintain eye contact until you turn to leave
- Don't tap your foot
- Don't scratch your head, face, nose, etc.
- Don't sway back and forth or from side to side
Be Wise, Increase Learning
Monday, March 30, 2009 (Edited 4/7/2009)
I am sure we would all like to be considered wise. I am also more sure that each of us would like to be wise. According to Scripture, wisdom come through:
- The fear of the Lord
- Learning the truth
- Applying the truth
- Living the truth
- "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. " (James 1:5)
- "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels." (Proverbs 1:5)
- "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
- "So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. " (Proverbs 2:2-6)
- "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. " (James 3:13)
We would love for every music director to be able to make these materials available to their musicians.
- "Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)
Who Hath Made Man's Mouth?
Monday, April 06, 2009
- "And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." (Exodus 4:10-12)
Even at our very best, we are nothing more than unworthy servants, through whom God can receive the glory that He alone deserves. If it is God's will that we serve Him, and it is in God's plan that we are to sing His praises in front of an audience, then God will give us the grace and help to do what He has called us to do.
As Isaiah said, even the best work that we do is nothing more than "filthy rags:"
- "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)
- "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (Ecclesiastes 9:11)
- "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." (John 12:43)
- "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound [overflow] to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:15-16)
Music Mimics Life
Monday, April 13, 2009
Consider the song "Christ Arose." On Resurrection Sunday, this song is always a favorite. It is a great example of a song in which the music says the same thing the lyrics are saying. The music enhances, beautifies, strengthens and reinforces the message of the text.
What is sadder than the death of someone you love? Consider how someone acts when they are deeply saddened: slow, smooth movements, no sudden motions, not very active, head bowed, talking quietly. The music here imitates the physical aspects of the emotion of sadness by being sung slowly and quietly. The music notes themselves encompass only three neighboring pitches.
These phrases reflect quiet anticipation. Something big is about to happen! The music builds up to a big contrast in energy by remaining slow and soft, and even ritarding at the end of the phrase.
Now we increase the energy by singing louder and faster, and the notes move in upward motion, recreating the physical movement of the rising Lord. Musical notes themselves do not have actual vertical or horizontal properties in space, but they do move from slower vibrations (lower pitches indicating less excitement) to faster vibrations (higher pitches, indicating more excitement). The music also contains larger movements and leaps when moving from one pitch to another.
Someone who has won a tremendous battle is enthusiastic and energetic, and this continuing emotion emanates from the music.
People who are excited about something tend to repeat themselves, telling the good news over and over, to one person after another.
Notice here also the wonderful use of putting normally accented syllables on musically accented beats. In normal English usage, in the word "arose," the "a" is unaccented, the "rose" is accented. On the musical side, the syllable "rose" comes on the strongly accented first beat of the measure. Also, in the word "hallelujah," the "lu" is the accented syllable when spoken, and, again, the "lu" is put on the accented first beat in the music.
In summary, music can reflect emotion by imitating human physical responses to emotion. Messages of sadness, happiness, anger, contentment, contemplation, rebellion, sexual arousal, fear, love, hope, etc., can all be communicated by music through the manipulation of musical elements to mimic the physical actions associated with each state of mind.
Music is a powerful tool for communication. Let's use music to communicate the wonderful truths of God's Word
Bible References to Music
Monday, April 20, 2009 (Edited 2/12/2011)
Just in case anyone reading this blog still thinks that the Bible does not have much to say about music, I have included here a fairly comprehensive list of references to music in the Bible. Anyone involved in the music program of a local church should be required to spend some time reading and studying what God says about music.
Genesis 4:21And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
Genesis 31:27Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?
Exodus 15:1Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Exodus 15:2The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Exodus 15:21And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Exodus 19:13There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.
Exodus 19:16And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.
Exodus 19:19And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
Exodus 20:18And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
Exodus 32:18And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.
Exodus 32:19And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
Leviticus 23:24Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
Leviticus 25:9Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
Numbers 10:2Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
Numbers 10:4And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.
Numbers 10:8And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations.
Numbers 10:9And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.
Numbers 10:10Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
Numbers 21:17Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it:
Numbers 29:1And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.
Numbers 31:6And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand.
Deuteronomy 31:19Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.
Deuteronomy 31:21And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.
Deuteronomy 31:22Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.
Deuteronomy 31:30And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.
Deuteronomy 32:44And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.
Joshua 6:4And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.
6:6And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD.
Joshua 6:8And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
Joshua 6:9And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
Joshua 6:13And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
Joshua 6:16And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.
oshua 6:20So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
Judges 3:27And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.
Judges 5:1Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
Judges 5:3Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.
Judges 5:12Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
Judges 6:34But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
Judges 7:8So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
Judges 7:16And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
Judges 7:18When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
Judges 7:19So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.
Judges 7:20And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
Judges 7:22And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.
Judges 21:21And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
1 Samuel 10:5After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:
1 Samuel 13:3And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.
1 Samuel 16:16Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.
1 Samuel 16:23And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
1 Samuel 18:6And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.
1 Samuel 21:11And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
1 Samuel 29:5Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
1 Samuel 30:16And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.
2 Samuel 2:28So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more.
2 Samuel 6:5And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.
2 Samuel 6:15So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
2 Samuel 6:16And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.
2 Samuel 15:10But Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, As soon as ye hear the sound of the trumpet, then ye shall say, Absalom reigneth in Hebron.
2 Samuel 18:16And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after Israel: for Joab held back the people.
2 Samuel 19:35I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?
2 Samuel 20:1And there happened to be there a man of Belial, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite: and he blew a trumpet, and said, We have no part in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: every man to his tents, O Israel.
2 Samuel 20:22Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and cast it out to Joab. And he blew a trumpet, and they retired from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.
2 Samuel 22:1And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:
2 Samuel 22:50Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
1 Kings 1:34And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon.
1 Kings 1:39And Zadok the priest took an horn of oil out of the tabernacle, and anointed Solomon. And they blew the trumpet; and all the people said, God save king Solomon.
1 Kings 1:40And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them.
1 Kings 1:41And Adonijah and all the guests that were with him heard it as they had made an end of eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the trumpet, he said, Wherefore is this noise of the city being in an uproar?
1 Kings 4:32And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.
1 Kings 10:12And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king's house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.
2 Kings 3:15But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him.
2 Kings 9:13Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king.
2 Kings 11:14And when she looked, behold, the king stood by a pillar, as the manner was, and the princes and the trumpeters by the king, and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets: and Athaliah rent her clothes, and cried, Treason, Treason.
2 Kings 12:13Howbeit there were not made for the house of the LORD bowls of silver, snuffers, basons, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the LORD:
1 Chronicles 6:31And these are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after that the ark had rest.
1 Chronicles 6:32And they ministered before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of the congregation with singing, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem: and then they waited on their office according to their order.
1 Chronicles 6:33And these are they that waited with their children. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman a singer, the son of Joel, the son of Shemuel,
1 Chronicles 9:33And these are the singers, chief of the fathers of the Levites, who remaining in the chambers were free: for they were employed in that work day and night.
1 Chronicles 13:8And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.
1 Chronicles 15:16And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.
1 Chronicles 15:19So the singers, Heman, Asaph, and Ethan, were appointed to sound with cymbals of brass;
1 Chronicles 15:20And Zechariah, and Aziel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Unni, and Eliab, and Maaseiah, and Benaiah, with psalteries on Alamoth;
1 Chronicles 15:21And Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, and Azaziah, with harps on the Sheminith to excel.
1 Chronicles 15:22And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful.
1 Chronicles 15:24And Shebaniah, and Jehoshaphat, and Nethaneel, and Amasai, and Zechariah, and Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, did blow with the trumpets before the ark of God: and Obededom and Jehiah were doorkeepers for the ark.
1 Chronicles 15:27And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen.
Chronicles 15:28Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps.
1 Chronicles 15:29And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing and playing: and she despised him in her heart.
1 Chronicles 16:5Asaph the chief, and next to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab, and Benaiah, and Obededom: and Jeiel with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals;
1 Chronicles 16:6Benaiah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the ark of the covenant of God.
1 Chronicles 16:7Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.
1 Chronicles 16:9Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
1 Chronicles 16:23Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.
1 Chronicles 16:33Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.
1 Chronicles 16:42And with them Heman and Jeduthun with trumpets and cymbals for those that should make a sound, and with musical instruments of God. And the sons of Jeduthun were porters.
1 Chronicles 25:1Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was:
1 Chronicles 25:3Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD.
1 Chronicles 25:6All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman.
1 Chronicles 25:7So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight.
2 Chronicles 5:12Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:
2 Chronicles 5:13It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD;
2 Chronicles 7:6And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.
2 Chronicles 9:11And the king made of the algum trees terraces to the house of the LORD, and to the king's palace, and harps and psalteries for singers: and there were none such seen before in the land of Judah.
2 Chronicles 13:12And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.
2 Chronicles 13:14And when Judah looked back, behold, the battle was before and behind: and they cried unto the LORD, and the priests sounded with the trumpets.
2 Chronicles 15:14And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.
2 Chronicles 20:21And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Chronicles 20:22And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
2 Chronicles 20:28And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the LORD.
2 Chronicles 23:13And she looked, and, behold, the king stood at his pillar at the entering in, and the princes and the trumpets by the king: and all the people of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also the singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught to sing praise. Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and said, Treason, Treason.
2 Chronicles 23:18Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the LORD by the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of the LORD, to offer the burnt offerings of the LORD, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David.
2 Chronicles 29:25And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.
2 Chronicles 29:26And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
2 Chronicles 29:27And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.
2 Chronicles 29:28And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.
2 Chronicles 29:30Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.
2 Chronicles 30:21And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the LORD.
2 Chronicles 34:12And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them were Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set it forward; and other of the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of musick.
2 Chronicles 35:15And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king's seer; and the porters waited at every gate; they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the Levites prepared for them.
2 Chronicles 35:25And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.
Ezra 2:41The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight.
Ezra 2:65Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.
Ezra 2:70So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.
Ezra 3:10And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
Ezra 3:11And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
Ezra 7:7And there went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.
Ezra 7:24Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them.
Ezra 10:24Of the singers also; Eliashib: and of the porters; Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.
Nehemiah 4:18For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.
Nehemiah 4:20In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.
Nehemiah 7:1Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed,
Nehemiah 7:44The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight
Nehemiah 7:67Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women.
Nehemiah 7:73So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinims, and all Israel, dwelt in their cities; and when the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities.
Nehemiah 10:28And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding;
Nehemiah 10:39For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.
Nehemiah 11:22The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha. Of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God.
For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day.
And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.
And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;
Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem.
And certain of the priests' sons with trumpets; namely, Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph:
And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.
And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.
And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.
And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.
They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.
They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword.
My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.
But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.
Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;
To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.
And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.
Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.
The mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.
But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.
Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.
So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.
Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.
All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.
Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.
The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.
Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah:
They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel.
My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.
Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.
Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.
O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.
Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.
His foundation is in the holy mountains.
As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.
O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.
O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.
Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.
O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.
O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.
Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.
Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say;
They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.
When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say:
Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
A Song of degrees. LORD, remember David, and all his afflictions:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD.
Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant.
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the LORD'S song in a strange land?
I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD.
LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.
They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.
While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.
Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.
In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.
I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools.
And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;
Song of Solomon 1:1
The song of songs, which is Solomon's.
Song of Solomon 2:12
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither consider the operation of his hands.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.
But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.
The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.
Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.
All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot.
Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.
The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.
They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea.
From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.
In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.
Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.
And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.
It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD.
Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.
Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.
Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.
Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.
Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.
Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities.
My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.
Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.
Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.
Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.
Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:
Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kirheres: because the riches that he hath gotten are perished.
Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers.
Then the heaven and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for Babylon: for the spoilers shall come unto her from the north, saith the LORD.
I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.
Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their musick.
The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick.
The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.
They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof.
And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard.
The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas.
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.
And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.
That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:
Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:
Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.
And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin.
Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet:
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;
And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.
And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.
The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.
And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work.
Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.
And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.
Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
1 Corinthians 14:7
And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
1 Corinthians 14:8
For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
1 Corinthians 14:15
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
1 Corinthians 14:26
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
1 Corinthians 15:52
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
The Purpose of Church Music
Monday, April 20, 2009
Have you ever stopped to consider what the point of your church music program ought to be? What should a "mission statement" for the music department look like?
Biblically, the aim of our music is to:
- Praise the Lord (Psalm 69:30)
- Worship the Lord (Psalm 66:4)
- Remind believers of the goodness of God (Psalm 145:7)
- Reflect our personal thankfulness for what He has done (Psalm 28:7)
- Teach sound doctrine (Deuteronomy 31:19-22, Colossians 3:16)
- Be a convicting testimony to the lost (Psalm 40:1-3)
Please note some of the concepts that are conspicuously absent from the previous list. Church music is NOT about:
- Drawing a crowd for a special occasion
- Appealing to a worldly audience
- Hosting concert tours
- Raising money
- Selling recordings
- Increasing weekly church attendance
- Keeping the interest of young people
- Impressing visitors
- Creating newsworthy events
- Manipulating the emotions of the congregation
- Creating interludes or "bumper music" between events
- Promoting "Christian" celebrities
- Giving favors or positions of prominence to certain church members
Monday, April 27, 2009 (Edited 5/6/2009)
The focal point of your church music program ought to be the congregational singing. The primary focus of a church music department is not the special music, your best musicians, the church choir, your orchestra, your children's music program, your handbell choir, your music director, or anything else. All of the musical activities of a given church service should center on the active participation of every member of the congregation in the singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
Congregational singing is the one opportunity the members of your church have to actively participate in the worship service program. Allow them the privilege of offering corporate praise, sung to the Lord, for the edification, teaching and admonishing of all in attendance. For much of the service, such as during the preaching, announcements, special music, choir song, etc., the audience becomes a group of passive onlookers. Congregational singing time allows each audience member to become a part of something bigger than themselves.
Some thoughts about congregational singing:
- People enjoy songs that are familiar
- People enjoy learning new songs (teach them to the choir first)
- Standing, sitting, and singing together facilitates unity
- Encourage singing parts
- Allow them access to a song book with music, not just words!
- Be sure the song number is announced at least twice
- Allow the congregation to hear themselves sing
- Use songs that reinforce the pastor's sermon
- Use songs that teach Biblical doctrine
- Always encourage, never berate a congregation for their singing
- The song leader should not overpower the congregation
- Use songs with different tempos, time signatures and key signatures to ensure variety
- Use various techniques (a capella, sectional singing, call and response) to retain interest
- Sing some songs from memory
- Move from "up-tempo" songs to more thoughtful songs during the service to prepare hearts for the preaching
- Do not joke or tease about a person's poor singing ability
- It is important that all staff on the platform participate with vigor!
- Have the choir stand during all songs, and demonstrate good singing technique
- Instrumental introductions should clearly set the key and tempo
- Focus the audience's attention on the message of the text
- Singing all verses of a song is not necessary, unless the song follows a chronological order or thought progression that would not make sense if a verse is left out
- Do not overuse certain songs
- Singing helps the congregation open their hearts to receive a blessing from the Lord
- Singing can comfort and encourage those who are hurting
- Singing can be an outward indication of the spiritual temperature of the singers
Following a Multitude to Do Evil
Monday, May 04, 2009
- "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment." Exodus 23:2
In our modern culture of moral relativism and situation ethics, we seem to think that because large numbers of people are involved in a particular activity, somehow that is a justification for our participation. However, the clear teaching of Scripture is that we are personally accountable for our own choices, and that God honors those who follow him, regardless of popular opinion.
- The majority of the population of the earth thought it was okay to disregard God's laws, until the flood came and destroyed the earth, leaving only Noah and his family.
- The majority of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah thought that immoral behavior was acceptable, until God rained down fire and brimstone, leaving only Lot and his daughters alive.
- The majority of the children of Israel thought it would be all right to disobey God and not enter the promised land because of their fear, until God caused them all to die in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb.
- The majority of the Jewish people thought it was good to worship Baal, until Elijah challenged them on Mt. Carmel, and all the priests of Baal were killed.
- The majority of the guests at the Philistine's party thought it was great fun to mock the man of God, until Samson prayed, and brought the house down on their heads.
- The majority of the people of the empire thought it was good religion to worship Nebuchadnezzar's image, except three young Hebrew men who were ultimately brought out safe and sound from a fiery furnace.
- "And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God." Romans 2:3-11
There is much evil music around us: in stores, on the radio, on the television, in our homes, in our cars, at public and private events, and sometimes, even in our churches. A person who chooses to honor God in their musical choices must be willing to face an ever increasing amount of opposition in our present culture.
The music we make a part of our life must be acceptable to God, and God only. The Bible teaches that one day, everyone of us will give account of ourselves to God. Let's be like a Noah, an Elijah, or a Caleb in our choice of music, and do th
The Composer of 1,005 Songs
Monday, May 11, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
Here is a quick test of your knowledge of music in the Bible. What Bible character wrote 1,005 original music compositions?
Perhaps you think it must be King David, "the sweet psalmist of Israel" (2 Samuel 23:1). After all, didn't he write most of the psalms found in the book of Psalms? Well, that is true, but there are only 150 songs total included in the book of Psalms. Some of the other psalm authors are listed below:
- Sons of Korah - 10 Psalms (42, 44-49, 84-85, 87)
- Asaph - 12 Psalms (50, 73-83)
- Heman - 1 Psalm (88)
- Ethan - 1 Psalm (89)
- Moses - 1 Psalm (90)
- Hezekiah - 11 Psalms (120-123, 128-130, 132, 134-136)
- Solomon - 2 Psalms (72, 127)
The answer may surprise you. The person mentioned as having written 1,005 songs is better known for other achievements.
- He is known for being wisest man who ever lived.
- He is known for building the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
- He is known for his great wealth.
- He is known for his friendship with the Queen of Sheba.
- He is known for his proverbs, or wise sayings.
- He is known for his three books in the Bible, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.
- "And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five." (1 Kings 4:29-32)
If he wrote one new song a month, it would have taken 83 years. If he wrote one new song a week, it would have taken him over 19 years. At any rate, 1,005 songs is a great achievement, and took a great amount of discipline and effort over an extended period of time.
More of us need to consider composing new songs. Just study the concept of the "new song" in the Scriptures, and you will find that God expects us to praise Him with personal, fresh songs.
Consider the hymn writer Isaac Watts, who authored well over 600 hymns, apparently by writing a new one each week.
Consider Johann Sebastian Bach, considered by many to be the greatest composer who ever lived, who, for many years, wrote new music each week to be performed in his church services.
We need to encourage the writing of new music in our churches. Many times, it is difficult to find music that is appropriate to use in our services. The majority of "Christian" music being published today is either worldly, doctrinally incorrect, silly, sensual, un-Biblical, unmusical, or just inappropriate.
As an encouragement to you, let me share one of my songs with you. If nothing else, perhaps it will inspire you that you could do better than that!
I woke up one snowy morning to a day off of work as a Christian school teacher. I had been meditating that week on Lamentations 3:22-23:
- "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new e
By Ear or By Note?
Monday, May 18, 2009
There are two ways of producing good sounding music: singing and playing by "ear," or singing and playing by reading music notation. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.
It seems the majority of music teachers train their students to sing and play by note exclusively. This is unfortunate, because many classically trained musicians lack that great natural sense of music and harmony exhibited by those who perform by ear.
I believe the best musicians are able to perform using both methods, and can do both simultaneously. A musician who scorns either of these methods limits himself in many ways.
- Great sense of harmony and harmonic progressions
- Performs smoothly
- Fewer mistakes
- Better in tune
- More natural performance
- Greater sensitivity to others in the ensemble
- Seem to enjoy music more
- Music tends be more fleshly
- Performance can have more distractions (slides, scoops, etc.)
- Unusual performance techniques
- Limited to their own musical creativity
- Unable to communicate with other musicians about music
- Picks up new music immediately
- Can utilize wider ranges of expression
- Quickly learns from better musicians
- Not limited to their own music theory knowledge
- Better able to communicate with others about music
- More tied down to the written notation
- More apt to make major mistakes
- Tends to perform with less feeling
- Tends to be more of an intellectual exercise
The Song that God Wrote
Monday, May 25, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
Music can be used as a great memory tool. Marketing experts understand this principle, and use music heavily in their advertising campaigns. Music jingles can have such staying power that they can even cross generational lines.
For example, back in the '70s, there was a marketing jingle produced by Franco-America pushing their canned spaghetti which featured pasta shaped like a ring. The product was called "SpaghettiOs," and the words to the jingle were "Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs." I find myself singing this little tune when little accidents occur around the house. Now my children know the song and sing it themselves, just as they learned it from me. The little innocuous marketing tune has been passed on from my generation to the next.
God understands the power that music has to pass a message on for indefinite periods of time, even from one generation to another. In the book of Deuteronomy, we find that God came to Moses and told him that the children of Israel would one day forget all the things that God had done for them. They would turn their back on Him, and follow after false gods. They would trade God's truth for falsehood. He told Moses then to teach the children of Israel a special song that would be a witness against them. When God's punishment fell on them, they would remember the song, and that God had warned them not to forsake the covenant that He had made with them.
- "And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware." (Deuteronomy 31:16-21)
- "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds
You Asked for It
Monday, June 01, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
If I had the ability to snap my fingers and give you anything in life you asked for, what would your request be? There have been numerous stories and jokes told about the mythical "genie in a bottle," who pops out of the lamp when it is rubbed and grants the person whatever they wish for. If you were in the story, what would you ask to receive?
Take a moment to stop and think about your answer for moment.
Would you ask for money? Would you ask for fame? Would you ask for power and position? Would you ask for good looks? As a musician, would you ask for a great voice, an expensive instrument, a huge fan base, great talents and abilities?
I believe coming up with an honest, heart-probing answer to the question would reveal much about your personal goals, philosophies, character and desires.
Now, I am no genie. Neither, by the way, is God. God is holy and all powerful, and is certainly not a "genie" who obeys our every command. On the other hand, He is our heavenly Father, and desires good things for His children. We are commanded to pray, and to make our requests known unto God.
- "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Philippians 4:6)
- "And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there; for that was the great high place: a thousand burnt offerings did Solomon offer upon that altar. In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants." (1 Kings 3:4-15)
- "Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons? So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept
A Wise Person Remains Ignorant
Monday, June 08, 2009 (Edited 2/12/2011)
What type of person is best qualified to talk about Biblical music standards? Is it someone who has spent hours studying the lives of wicked musicians? Is it someone who can tell you the titles of all the current pop songs on secular radio stations? Should the person who is trying to keep their music holy study the lyrics of popular tunes and analyze them according to the Scriptures?
The answer may surprise you. The Bible teaches that we should be ignorant of what wicked people do. For a Christian who is concerned with living a life that is pleasing to the Lord, it is even a "shame" to merely speak of activities that evil men involve themselves in.
- "For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil." (Romans 16:19)
- "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light." (Ephesians 5:8-13)
- "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (1 Corinthians 3:18-19)
Now, that does not mean that we are to be simply naïve and be surprised by wicked things that wicked men do. However, we are to avoid reading, looking at, learning about evil activities, including evil music.
Consider the story of Joseph. When tempted to commit an immoral act with a wicked woman, he did not continue to simply argue or reason with her. He did not stay and test his personal resolve. He simply ran!
- "And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out." (Genesis 39:7-12)
- "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
Music Standards or Bible Standards?
Monday, June 15, 2009
When we refer to "music standards" for the believer, I believe that it is important to understand that we are not discussing the performance level of the musician. I have met many people over the years who seem to equate the quality of their Christianity with the quality of their music. Many times I have seen people with no personal standards of separation who would never dream of listening to music that was not classical in nature. Their music tastes are impeccable, but they see nothing wrong with engaging in worldly or fleshly practices such as: smoking, drinking, swearing, dressing immodestly, watching immoral movies, or being filled with a bitter or rebellious spirit.
I believe that because we serve a God who does everything with majesty and excellence, we as musicians must do everything in our power to be the best that we can be. Bible musicians certainly set the pattern for performing with skill. However, our "music" standards must not be just about the music; they must be "Bible" standards. In other words, when we are discussing musical styles and performance practices that are appropriate for a Christian, we are not necessarily talking about how closely the music conforms to the ideals of a classical approach to music. We are discussing how closely the music aligns with Biblical principles.
And there is a difference.
God said, "Be ye holy, for I am holy."
God said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
God said, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."
God said, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed."
God said, "Sing to the Lord a new song."
God said, "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
God said, "Do all to the glory of God."
God said, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble."
God said, "Pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate."
Let's use these principles as the basis of our music standards, not the principles of classic music theory. Personal holiness in every area of our lives is vitally important if we wish to please God and exhibit true holiness in our music
The Principle of Replacement
Monday, June 22, 2009
One of the best ways to remove a bad habit from your life is to simply replace the bad habit with a good one. When facing a familiar temptation, determine to change the temptation into a catalyst for doing the right thing.
For example, when tempted to be selfish, actively do something for someone else. To combat depression, learn to instead count your blessings. To remove gossip from your life, determine to speak only good of others. Replace lying with truth. Replace cheating with honesty. Replace anger with kindness. Replace bad eating habits with good eating habits.
Jesus taught this concept in the following passages:
- "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation." (Matthew 12:43-45)
- "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first." (Luke 11:24-26)
This principle can also be seen in the concept of repentance. To repent means to change your mind about something you are doing. When a person repents, he turns from one attitude or activity, and turns to the opposite attitude or activity.
Applying the principle of replacement to music means that when we decide to remove negative music from our life, we must replace it with positive music. Fill your life with God-honoring music, so that there is no room left for wicked music. The apostle Paul put it this way:
- "I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil." (Romans 16:19)
So it is with music. If we have trained our musical tastes to only enjoy and appreciate the wrong types of music, we must work to change our tastes by replacing the bad with the good. You may have to listen to good music at first just because it is right, whether you like it or not. Over time, you will begin to enjoy the right types of music
And the Singers Sang Loud
Monday, June 29, 2009 (Edited 2/12/2011)
In the book of Nehemiah, we find a wonderful story of the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. When the work was completed, the Jewish people held a dedication ceremony, and a large part of this celebration included music. There were cymbals, psalteries, harps, trumpets and singers.
In the middle of this passage of Scripture we find these words:
- "And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer." (Nehemiah 12:42)
- "Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off." (Nehemiah 12:43)
What an amazing opportunity this Levitical music director Jezrahiah had to lead these temple musicians and priests in praise to God! It must have been an incredible sound to have been heard by those nearby.
It would be interesting to know how the music in our local churches is perceived by those around us. Is our music joyful, victorious, loud and energetic?
Many times, the level of energy with which we sing the praises of God is a direct indication of our spiritual temperature. People who are walking with the Lord, seeing prayers answered, living in victory over sin and the Devil will have no difficulty singing to God with much vim and vigor.
Let's analyze ourselves and see if our music is joyful, energetic and loud as a result of the great things God has done for us.
The Problem with Scoops and Slides
Monday, July 06, 2009 (Edited 7/7/2009)
How do we determine whether or not a particular performance technique is good or bad? What is the ultimate standard whether or not a vocal or instrumental variation is appropriate for Christian music?
I believe that we must determine the purpose behind using a particular performance technique, and compare that purpose with our definition of Christian music. Here is a short summary of what I believe Christian music is:
- Christian music consists of a clear, distraction-free message that is Biblical in content and delivery, Holy Spirit-filled, that is directed to the Lord, is performed as a means of edifying, teaching and admonishing fellow believers, and is testimony to the lost.
I see several reasons why a singer would utilize these techniques.
- To draw attention to the vocal prowess of the performer
- To manipulate the emotions of the listener
- To imitate another singer
- To communicate sensuality
- To create a particular atmosphere
- To fit into a particular style or genre of music
- To relate to a certain group of people
- Do not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16)
- Do not exhibit pride (Pro. 8:13)
- Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22)
Properly used performance techniques are like spices. When used discreetly, they may be helpful in certain rare applications. All aspects of musical performance should be analyzed to see if they meet the following criteria: they should
In other words, if a particular performance technique is a help in communicating a godly message, it is perfectly acceptable to use it. If it is a distraction from the message of the song, for whatever reason, that performance technique should be avoided.
The problem with most vocal ornamentations is that they are almost exclusively used for the wrong reasons. Scooping and sliding and riffing are mostly manipulative, sensual, and self-promotional in nature and should not be used.
Music that clearly communicates a strong, positive, Biblical message will emphasize the text by using proper emphasis, word color, effective phrasing, and appropriate dynamic and tempo changes. Our music needs to be passionate, heartfelt and excellent, not manipulative, showy, or sleazy, in order to reach the intended audience
Stripes, Stocks, and Songs
Monday, July 13, 2009
Paul and Silas were great men of God, who were ministering for a short period in the city of Philippi. They were on a mission, witnessing to those who needed to hear the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, doing good deeds, uplifting people spiritually, and comforting and encouraging those who needed their help. They were even able to help a young woman who was demon possessed, by casting the demons out of her. How grateful and joyous she must have been!
Then, something dreadful happened. Several men, who had been taking advantage of the young woman's misfortune, greedy men, who were using her for gain, were upset that they had lost their source of ill-gotten money. They caught Paul and Silas, dragged them before the magistrates and accused them of troubling the city.
The crowd that was there rose up against them, and the magistrates commanded that their clothes be removed, that they should be beaten, and thrown into prison. After being beaten with "many stripes," they were thrown into the inner prison, and their feet were secured in stocks.
If anyone would have had a reason to be bitter, upset, discouraged, depressed, disillusioned, hurt, offended, mad, frustrated, distraught, and humiliated, it was Paul and Silas. Instead, we read these words:
- "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." (Acts 16:25)
- "...rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." (Acts 5:41b)
Let's determine to sing praise through the midnights of our lives with joy and thankfulness for what God has done for us
Old Testament Musicians
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Bible gives the names of many of the Levitical musicians in the Old Testament. The following is a list of these men and what they did.
- Seer (2 Chr. 29:30)
Singer (1Chr. 15:19)
Instrumentalist - Cymbals (1Chr. 15:19, 16:5)
Psalm writer (Psalms 50, 73-83)
The chief (1Chr. 16:5)
Directed, conducted, taught his children (1 Chr. 25:2, 6)
Sons (1Chr. 25:2)
- 1. Zaccur
- King's seer (2 Chr. 35:15)
Singer (1Chr. 15:19)
Cymbals (1Chr. 15:19
Directed, conducted, taught his children (1 Chr. 25:3, 6)
Sons (1Chr. 25:3)
- 1. Gedaliah
6. Shimei (1Chr. 25:17)
- Grandson of Samuel (1Chr. 6:33)
King's seer (1 Chr. 25:5)
Singer (1Chr. 15:19)
Instrumentalist - the horn (1 Chr. 25:5)
Directed, conducted, taught his children (1 Chr. 25:6)
Sons (1Chr. 25:4, 5)
- 1. Bukkiah
- Chief of the Levites (1 Chr. 15:22)
Music teacher (1 Chr. 15:22)
Was skillful (1 Chr. 15:22)
Master of the song (1 Chr. 15:27)
- Prophet - received God's message for King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:14)
Of the sons of Asaph
- Choir director - "The singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer." (Neh. 12:42)
- Benaiah (1Ch 15:24, 16:6)
Jahaziel (1Ch 16:6)
Shebaniah (1Ch 15:24)
Jehoshaphat (1Ch 15:24)
Nethaneel (1Ch 15:24)
Amasai (1Ch 15:24)
Zechariah (1Ch 15:24)
Eliezer (1Ch 15:24)
- Zechariah (Neh. 12:35)
Shemaiah (Neh. 12:36)
Azarael (Neh. 12:36)
Milalai (Neh. 12:36)
Gilalai (Neh. 12:36)
Maai (Neh. 12:36)
Nethaneel (Neh. 12:36)
Judah (Neh. 12:36)
Hanani (Neh. 12:36)
- Zechariah (1Ch 15:20, 16:5)
Jeiel (1Ch 15:20, 16:5)
Shemiramoth (1Ch 15:20, 16:5)
Mattithiah (1Ch 15:20, 16:5)
Eliab (1Ch 15:20, 16:5)
Benaiah (1Ch 15:20, 16:5)
Aziel (1Chr. 15:20)
Unni (1Chr. 15:20)
- Mattithiah (1Ch 15:21)
Elipheleh (1Ch 15:21)
Mikneiah (1Ch 15:21)
Obededom (1Ch 15:21, 16:5)
Jeiel (1Ch 15:21)
Azaziah (1Ch 15:21)
Under the Hands of their Fathers
Monday, July 27, 2009
In the Bible we find a very interesting phrase in reference to the Old Testament musicians. Scripture states that they were "under the hands of their father" as they sang and played their instruments.
- "Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king. Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD." (1 Chronicles 25:2,3)
- "All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman." (1 Chronicles 25:6)
- It indicates a clear, firm, musical leadership on the part of the director, and a willing, submissive following on the part of the music performers.
- It may also indicate an actual, physical movement of the hands used by the directors to lead the musical performance in expression, tempos, volumes, and possibly even pitch.
In the mid-1900's, a French organist, music teacher and composer named Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura developed a method for interpreting the sublinear accent marks found in the Hebrew Bible, which she believed was a system of music notation. These markings, according to Vantoura, represent actual hand motions that were used by Bible music directors to communicate pitch information to the performer. The "music of the Bible" that she developed may or may not represent what ancient Biblical music would have sounded like, but it does make for a fascinating study.
Based on the teaching of Scripture, I believe that music directors should work on developing clear, precise, expressive hand gestures for communicating their intentions to their music performance groups. When striving for unity in a music presentation, the director becomes the primary focal point, and must be able to exhibit well-disciplined leadership qualities, so the performers can express the message of the song with confidence and beauty
On Top of Spaghetti
Monday, August 03, 2009 (Edited 6/24/2010)
I think it is important to remember when educating children that for something to hold their attention, it must be interesting to them. Many times, we are so focused on giving them things that are "good" for them, we ignore their need to be intellectually "tickled."
We should strive to develop in them a taste for that which is good, as well as a distaste for that which should be avoided.
In a conversation with my sister the other day, I was reminded of a song that my brother and I used to sing repeatedly with much gusto (much to the chagrin of my parents). The song title was "On Top of Spaghetti," and the lyrics were sung to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey."
- On Top of Spaghetti
On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table and on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door.
It rolled in the garden and under a bush,
And then my poor meatball was nothing but mush.
The mush was as tasty as tasty could be,
And early next summer it grew into a tree.
The tree was all covered with beautiful moss,
And on it grew meatballs and tomato sauce.
So if you eat spaghetti all covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball and don't ever sneeze.
As I child, I learned to love reading, because I was exposed to literature that was interesting, not just boring reading textbooks. Books like "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet," the "Chronicles of Narnia," Tom Swift science fiction books, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries, as well as Christian biographies, missionary stories, animal stories, and classics such as Charles Dickens books, Robinson Caruso, Swiss Family Robinson, and others.
During our family devotion times, we thrilled to read interesting, attention-grabbing stories of famous and infamous Bible characters. We learned to even enjoy the challenge of reading the names listed in Biblical genealogies. In other words, we learned to read, and to love reading, by being exposed to literature that captured our young imaginations, and that caused us to want to read.
I am currently working with my own children using the same technique. For example, in trying to teach my children good eating habits, I make it a point to find ways to make healthy food choices tasty and interesting. Smoothies, made from bananas, grapes and frozen strawberries are a favorite dessert. Different salads with appealing ingredients and dressings are also well loved by my small children, because we have found ways to make them tasty and interesting. They have learned to enjoy snacks of grapes, strawberries, blueberries, apples, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, canteloupe, and celery, because they know that these foods can taste delicious.
Let's strive to do the same thing with music. Develop musical interest in your young people by providing them with music that is fun, clean, stimulating, and interesting. I can still remember walking around the house with a kazoo playing "Home, Home on the Range" having a great time creating interesting tones and timbres.
In my experience as a school music teacher, I have been dismayed to find that many children enter kindergarten, having never sung songs of any kind with their family. They act as though singing is a foreign experience to them. Music is entertainment, something to be listened to, or to be consumed, not something to participate in. And that is a shame.
Yes, music is a wonderful tool for praising God, teaching doctrine, and communicating the joy of the Lord, but I do not believe I would be as skilled or enjoy it half as much if I had not learned at an early age that music can be just plain fun
Monday, August 10, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
There are several passages in Scripture that give us an idea of the magnitude of the Jewish music program. Vocal and instrumental music was taken very seriously, and the worship music program was well-managed and highly organized. Whole families of the tribe of Levi were set apart specifically for the purpose of learning, writing, organizing, practicing, teaching and performing music for the worship of God.
Study the following references carefully and take note of the large numbers of people involved in creating and performing music for the praise of God.
David's Musicians (288 skilled musicians)
- "Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was: Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king. Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD. Of Heman: the sons of Heman; Bukkiah, Mattaniah, Uzziel, Shebuel, and Jerimoth, Hananiah, Hanani, Eliathah, Giddalti, and Romamtiezer, Joshbekashah, Mallothi, Hothir, and Mahazioth: All these were the sons of Heman the king's seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman. So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight." (1 Chronicles 25:1-7)
- "Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith." (1 Chronicles 23:5)
- "Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets." (2 Chronicles 5:12)
- "The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight." (Nehemiah 7:44)
"Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women." (Nehemiah 7:67)
The problem with the idea of mankind continually improving is that the Bible, as well as observational science, teaches us that all things were created "very good," and that as a result of the curse, all of creation is degenerating, growing worse and worse. In other words, ancient man certainly had more genetic diversity and adaptability, probably more intelligence, less disease, more physical strength and stamina, etc.
We tend to think that because of our modern technologies that somehow we are superior to ancient peoples. However, one does not have to look far to understand that historical cultures exhibited some very amazing intellectual prowess. Consider the following examples:
- The craftsmanship and mathem
God's Message Through Music
Monday, August 17, 2009
In 1 Chronicles 25, we find an incredibly fascinating phrase. The Levitical musicians, we are told, were set apart by David to "prophesy with harps." Through their music, they were to communicate a message directly from the heart of God to His people. Notice, that in this passage, we are referencing music apart from any lyrics.
- "Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was: Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king. Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD." (1 Chronicles 25:1-3)
- "All these were the sons of Heman the king's seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters." (1 Chronicles 25:5)
"Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped." (2 Chronicles 29:30)
"And the singers the sons of Asaph were in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king's seer; and the porters waited at every gate; they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the Levites prepared for them." (2 Chronicles 35:15)
In light of the fact that God is musical, it should be no surprise that He desires to use the medium of music to communicate His message to His people. I believe music is just one more form that God uses to tell people about Himself, just as He uses Creation, the Bible, preachers, evangelists and teachers.
A prophet is, literally, one who speaks God's words, in God's name, with God's authority. Prophecy contains God's mind, and God's will concerning a matter. To call a musician a "prophet" adds a whole new dimension to our idea of what can be communicated through music.
Christian musicians in our local churches ought to be aware of the innate power of music to deliver God's message. We ought to concern ourselves with providing clear, powerful Biblical truth, and communicating this message effectively. Our music cannot degenerate into mere entertainment or self promotion. We are not to merely "tickle the ears" (2 Timothy 4:3) of our listeners.
Be aware of the deep spiritual truths contained in your songs, remove any distractions that might hinder or distract from the transmission of these truths, and communicate the message with passion
Music Is Preaching
Monday, August 24, 2009
Carefully consider the following Bible verses as to the effect our music should have on the listener:
- "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying." (1 Corinthians 14:26)
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16)
"And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name." (Romans 15:9)
"And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." (Psalms 40:3)
"Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." (Hebrews 2:12)
- Glorify God
- Encourage the fear of God
- Develop trust
- Express a wide variety of emotions, joy, thankfulness, praise, etc.
The purpose of the Spirit-filled musician must be that of life change, causing both the singer and the listener to become more like Christ.
We ought to carefully consider the music that we use from a doctrinal standpoint. Who wrote the song? What religious movement is that person associated with? Does this song teach clear, Biblical truth? I am often amazed how often music containing unsound doctrine is embraced by a Bible-believing church. I try to practice the following principle: if I would not go to hear a certain person preach, because I know that he (or the denominational background from which he comes) misinterprets clear Bible teachings, then neither will I listen to his music. Music communicates doctrine.
The singer ought to consider how best to perform the song, so that it can become more clear and effective. Learn to direct the message of the song from your heart straight to the heart of the listener.
Music preaches. Be sure the music that you listen to, and the music you perform, preaches the true gospel of Jesus Christ as contained in the Bible
Putting Music into Their Hands
Monday, August 31, 2009
When teaching music notation to small children, the teacher should do everything he can to make the concepts more concrete and less abstract. We are all aware of the fact that the more senses we involve in learning a subject, the better the student will retain the information.
In the case of music notation, music teachers generally attempt to train small children to translate abstract black and white figures on a page into meaningful, musical sound. This is a difficult task, since they have never experienced a music note in "real life." To them, a whole note or an eighth note is just an interesting figure, or blob of ink, on a page.
However, providing notes that they can touch and handle turns theory into reality for them.
I call these hand-held notes, Music Manipulatives (tm). There are many, many fun games that make learning the names of the notes interesting and educational. Usually, after two or three sessions of handling, feeling, poking, wearing, smelling, tossing, and playing with the manipulatives, even kindergarten age children can quickly and consistently identify the notes.
I use them to teach students:
- The name of each note
- The time value
- A rhythm syllable
- The concept that notes can live on a line or space
- The letter names of the different pitches, by utilizing the manipulatives on a floor staff
- The concept of high and low notes
- Simple composition skills
For better insight on musical training for small children, I highly recommend purchasing and reading a couple of e-books explaining the Fletcher Music Method.
Let's train up the next generations to be "skillful" and "cunning" in music, better able to praise the Lord and edify the saints through music
Owed to the Church Choir
Monday, September 07, 2009
- "Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing." (Psalms 100:2)
They pour their hearts into reproducing the compositions of other musicians; musicians whom, for the most part, they do not know nor will ever meet.
They express corporate musicality by following the directions of the music director to the best of their abilities.
They bring to the message of each song their own personalities, experiences, emotions, and faith.
They can be exasperating, inspiring, encouraging, tempermental, emotional, entertaining, invigorating, frustrating, challenging, humorous, youthful, fashionable, domineering, passive, irritating, or boring.
They agree to unite their separate voices, their unique timbres, their varied vibratos, their various pitch anamolies, their rhythmic sensibilities, the influences of regional dialects, and their personal confidence levels to create a unique musical communication for the edification of the congregation.
And God's presence and power become evident as they praise the Lord.
- "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." (Psalms 22:3)
"It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God." (2 Chronicles 5:13-14)
Any church that has a well-prepared, energetic, clear-sounding, Spirit-filled choir that can encourage the hearts of the listeners and prepare them for the preaching of God's Word, is certainly privileged and blessed.
God bless each and every faithful choir member!
The Unnamed Minstrel
Monday, September 14, 2009 (Edited 9/15/2009)
Jehoram, king of Israel, called upon Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to help him fight against the Moabites, who had risen up in rebellion. As the two kings took their armies to the battle, along with the king of Edom, they began to run out of water to drink and to give to their animals. They decided to go ask counsel of Elisha as to what they should do.
Elisha, who was not particularly interested in helping king Jehoram, because of the wickedness of his family, decided to seek a word from the Lord for the sake of king Jehoshaphat. He called for a minstrel to play, and as the minstrel played, presumedly upon a harp, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha.
The advice was to fill the valley full of ditches. The armies did so, and, without a drop of rain from the sky or even a bit of wind, the ditches were filled with water. The men and their animals were then able to drink the water in the ditches. Also, the Moabites, seeing the water in the ditches as blood, became emboldened, thinking the opposing forces had overcome each other, and thus were trapped and defeated by the forces of Israel, Judah, and Edom.
The story is told in 2 Kings 3. The Scriptures state this:
- "And Elisha said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him." (2 Kings 3:14-15)
We do know, that when he played, God's hand came upon Elisha. The music became a catalyst for the presence of God. This is "inspirational music" in it's clearest and truest form. God's power touched the prophet as a result of music that moved the hand of God.
Oh, that the music in our churches would bring God's very presence into our services, causing the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of the congregation, and allowing God to speak to each individual! It is possible. It has been done, and can be done.
This story is not about the man. This story is not about the music. This story is about the power of God, working in and through a musician who reached the heart of God.
Let us humbly strive for music that reaches heaven and opens hearts to receive the Word of God
Revival Results in Singing
Monday, September 21, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
Revival is a very interesting concept. Many churches speak and preach of revival, pray for revival, and hold what are commonly called "revival meetings." Church history is full of famous, widespread revivals, like the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 or the Great Awakening in 1730-1760. We have heard of well-known revival preachers of the past, such as George Whitefield and Billy Sunday.
The word "revival" literally means "to restore to life." In a Christian sense, we talk about revival as meaning a renewed fervor for the things of God, and a revitalized relationship with God.
One of the great examples of revival in the Old Testament occurs in the story of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a Jewish exile serving as cup-bearer in the court of Artexerxes, king of the Persian Empire about 445 B.C.
Nehemiah was saddened to hear of the broken-down condition of Jerusalem, and Artaxerxes noticed his sadness of countenance. Nehemiah requested of Artexerxes to be allowed to return to Jerusalem to begin a resoration project there. The king granted his request, gave him an extended leave of absence, and wrote letters to people who could help him along his way.
Though he faced tremedous opposition, Nehemiah was able to successfully rebuild the walls around Jerusalem and restore the temple to it's place as the center of worship for the Jewish people living in the area.
When all was ready, the Jews held a great feast, read from the book of the law, held "preaching" services (Neh. 8:8), confessed their sins, and worshiped God (Neh. 9:3).
Part of this great revival included the resoration of music in the worship of God. Nehemiah re-appointed the Levitical singers to their positions as full-time musicians in the temple. The dedication service itself included great songs of praise to God, with both singers and instrumentalists doing their part.
To gain a better understanding of the importance Nehemiah placed on the temple music program, read and meditate upon these references to music found in the book of Nehemiah.
- "Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed," (Nehemiah 7:1)
"The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred forty and eight." (Nehemiah 7:44)
"Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women." (Nehemiah 7:67)
"So the priests, and the Levites, and the porters, and the singers, and some of the people, and the Nethinims, and all Israel, dwelt in their cities; and when the seventh month came, the children of Israel were in their cities." (Nehemiah 7:73)
"And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding." (Nehemiah 10:28)
"For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God." (Nehemiah 10:39)
"The overseer also of the Levites at Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micha. Of the sons of Asaph, the singers were over the business of the house of God. For it was the king's commandment concerning them, that a certain portion should be for the singers, due for every day." (Nehemiah 11:22-23)
"And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries,
Monday, September 28, 2009
Hezekiah became king in Judah when he was twenty-five years old. Hezekiah was a good king, who tried very hard to obey the Lord and to restore his land to the worship of the one true God. And, as had been promised in Deuteronomy 11, following God in humble obedience brought Hezekiah God's blessing.
- "He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth." (2 Kings 18:5-7a)
"And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered." (2 Chronicles 31:20-21)
- "And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel. And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished. And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped. Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped." (2 Chronicles 29:25-30)
A humble, joyous, walk with God that produces a song of praise and an attitude of worship is certainly a great indication of revival in the heart!
Some Thoughts About Hymn Singing
Monday, October 05, 2009
During a typical church worship service, there are only two activities in which the congregation becomes actively involved. One of these is the offering time, and the other is the congregational singing time. A living, thriving church understands the importance of involving every member in both of these activities with joy and enthusiasm.
The singing of hymns is a special, precious time of great worth to each participant. The song service should not be taken lightly, or entered into without great thought, preparation and seriousness.
The music director should choose songs carefully, with much prayer. Research into the history, the Scriptural basis, and the spiritual implications of each song should be carefully considered when planning a song service.
The primary goals of the song service are to praise the Lord, connect the members of the congregation to one another in unified worship, and to prepare the hearts and minds of the congregation to receive the preaching of God's Word.
Some churches decide that the singing of every verse of every song is important. To them, leaving out a verse or two of a song is almost sacreligious. As a matter of fact, at one point I was personally accused of being a "modernist" because I did not use every verse of a particular song.
Singing every verse is certainly a terrific practice. In my opinion, the more singing, the better. Many songs do have verses that tend to build one upon the other to make a complete thought.
However, I do feel that on occasion, it is fine and appropriate to "pick and choose" certain verses to be sung, while leaving out others.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
- Songs in the hymn book are not inspired, unless they are directly quoting Scripture.
- Secondary verses of poetry do not always build upon previous verses. In many cases, they simply state the same idea from a different perspective.
- The needs and goals of different portions of a church service vary. Sometimes, for example, the singing of a single verse of a song from memory can be a powerful aid to focus the attention of the congregation on a particular topic.
- The goal of the music director should be to engage each singer's mental and spiritual resources in considering the message of the song.
- Variety can keep the singers "on their toes," and can help them remain engaged with the music. Our singing should not become merely "vain repetitions."
The singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in our worship services allows us to fulfill the Scriptural admonition to "teach and admonish one another." Let's strive for great, heartfelt congregational singing in our churches!
Connect with the Message
Monday, October 12, 2009
Musical activities, such as singing or playing the piano, as well as other artistic endeavors, are considered to be primarily right-brain activities. The left side of the brain is the source of logical, analytical, and mathematical types of thinking.
It is easy for an accomplished musician to play the piano or sing without engaging both sides of the brain. We have all probably seen examples of pianists holding animated conversations with a music director or soloist while continuing to accurately perform complex music with their hands. Even as a singer, I could very easily take a math test, for example, while singing entire songs from memory.
The point is, it is easy for us to sing or play our instrument without "thinking." In a sense, we can put our fingers or voices on "auto-pilot" and perform a song while maintaining musical accuracy. Have you ever heard a music director ask the choir to "think about what you are singing?" He can tell by the blank look on the singers' faces that their minds are focused on something other than the verbal content of the music.
However, our presentation can become much more powerful if we simply engage all of our thought processes and focus them on the meaning and message of the song.
Here is what the musician must do if he is to become an effective communicator:
- Decipher the underlying message of the song. Analyze the content of the text to determine what the song is trying to communicate.
- Personalize the message of the song. Make it your own. Do not think of the song as being something written by a stranger, consider it to be your own heartfelt creation.
- Bring to memory powerful personal experiences that illustrate the message of the song.
- Engage your imagination to create vivid, clear emotional, visual contexts that illustrate the topic you are delivering.
- Clearly focus your attention on delivering your thoughts and emotions to the heart and mind of the listener.
- Practice the song until it is thoroughly internalized and performance techniques have become second nature. When performing, exert 95% of your efforts on creating an open, honest connection with the message of the song and only 5% on performance techniques, such as posture, breathing, resonance, etc.
- Do not be afraid to allow the message of the song to dictate your musical expression. Use syllable accents, word color, variations in tempo, dynamics, timbre, phrasing to powerfully enhance your delivery.
- "People empathize with your experience, not your intentions."
This Little Light of Mine
Monday, October 19, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
The New Testament principle is clear: as believers, we are to be bright, shining lights in the midst of an ever-darkening world.
- "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)
- This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.
How does our music help us accomplish this goal?
It is interesting to note, that in the New Testament, two of the references to music we find are in quotations from the Old Testament. One is in Romans, the other in the book of Hebrews.
In these two passages, singing is described as allowing the people of God to broadcast a testimony of God's goodness to the people around them.
- "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name." (Romans 15:8-9)
- "Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name." (2 Samuel 22:50 & Psalms 18:49)
- "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." (Hebrews 2:9-12)
- "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee." (Psalms 22:22)
- "I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations." (Psalms 108:3)
"And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." (Psalms 40:3)
In the New Testament, we recall the story of Paul and Silas using music to shed light in a very dark situation:
- "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." (Acts 16:25)
- Different - we must practice the "new song" principle
- Positive - our music must be encouraging, edifying and uplifting
- Truthful - light always exposes and uncovers falsehood
- Clear - light that is low or flickering will distort our vision
- Morally pure
The Forgotten Doctrine
Monday, October 26, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
The body is a marvelous organism, uniquely and creatively designed by our wise and loving Creator. God designed mankind specifically for the task of caring for the rest of God's creation, the plants and animals that surround us in this earth.
Several years ago, I took a college level biology course at a secular university. I recall the wonder I felt as we discussed the various systems that God designed into our bodies: the circulatory system, the digestive system, the lymphatic system, the nervous system, the respiratory system, the urinary system, the skeletal system, the reproductive system. Each of these systems is intricate and necessary to the correct functioning of our body. After studying the body, I remember how awed I was at the genius and planning of our Heavenly Father.
However, the Bible is very clear: we as individuals are more than a body. We have within us that which gives us personality, the ability to think and reason, and to be self-aware. We have a will, which allows us to make decisions that influence our direction and future.
We also have within us the ability to connect with God on a spiritual level. We can open our hearts to Him, or reject Him. We can see, feel, and understand his loving presence, or ignore His working in our lives.
So, we are much more than just bodies walking around, functioning merely by instinct. We are not just animals, with no control over our attitudes, decisions, and actions.
The body has certain, innate desires which beg for fulfillment. Some of these desires are for eating, drinking, resting, procreating, feeling various physical sensations, such as stimulation of the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and other sensory organs.
We as spiritual beings have the ability to choose when, how, and to what extent we grant those desires. For example, if a man so chooses, he can starve himself to death, even while having food within his reach.
Modern philosophy -- based largely on the idea that man is merely another animal, evolved by simple, pure chance -- states that we should simply live our lives fulfilling whatever desires we experience. Gluttony, sexual promiscuity, drunkenness, drug addictions, violent behaviors, etc., really do not matter, as long as they make you feel good.
However, the Bible clearly states that as Christians, we have the responsibility to control and direct our bodily desires within the framework of God's immutable principles.
- "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
"For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags." (Proverbs 23:21)
"Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man." (Proverbs 24:33-34)
"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Corinthians 9:27)
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Romans 7:18)
"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life b
How Strong is Your Cord?
Monday, November 02, 2009
The number three is considered by Bible scholars to be the number of perfection. For example, the Trinity consists of three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Man is made up of three parts: the body, the soul, and the spirit. There are three qualities to our universe: time, space, and matter.
- "A threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiates 4:12b)
A Venn diagram is often used to illustrate the relationship between differents sets, or groups of ideas. Picture three circles placed in such a manner that there is an overlap of a portion of all three circles. One circle represents the passion and vision that we bring to our music. From that circle flows the next circle which represents the discipline required to bring our vision to fruition. The third circle represents the skills and abilities that we bring to bear when we perform the music.
The section in the middle where the three circles overlap represents the area of our greatest strength and effectiveness.
- "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem." (Zephaniah 3:14)
2. DisciplinePractice and hone your musical skills. Educate yourself on what constitutes good music. Become knowledgeable about your voice or your instrument. Dedicate your time to preparing for the ministry of music on a consistent basis.
- "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
- "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." (Ecclesiastes 9:10a)
Conclusion:Our goal should be to perform music that deeply touches our soul, to be well prepared, and then to allow those aspects to control and influence our performance. By following this process, we can become more effective in communicating a worthwhile message through the medium of music
The Distinctive Church Piano
Monday, November 09, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
The church piano and the church pianist give your church music program it's own unique flavor.
- "And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (1 Corinthians 14:7-8)
UsesIn many traditional churches, the piano is the most important musical instrument. The piano is used for almost all musical activities, including:
- Preludes & Postludes
- Accompanying congregational singing
- Accompanying choir specials
- Accompanying instrumentalists
- Accompanying vocal ensembles and soloists
- Invitation songs
- Accompanying closing songs
- Providing music for baptisms, communion, interludes, etc.
Many times, the church pianist is the most accomplished musician in the church and often works without pay. Be sure to give public recognition to your pianists for the tremendous effort they put into making your music program a success. A special dinner honoring your pianists should be held at once a year. Church pianists should be encouraged and supported in providing piano lessons for your congregation. A church that has multiple pianists is certainly blessed.
Church pianos ought to be tuned at least four times per year, if possible, following the change of each season.
Piano tuning is affected by changes in the humidity level of the room, by variations in temperature, by the amount of usage, and by the styles of music being played.
Upright pianos should not be placed along outside walls. A dehumidifier installed inside a piano might be helpful in a very humid environment, but be careful not to let the piano get too dry. You certainly do not want the soundboard to become dried and cracked.
Over time, the felt parts in the piano can become compressed, causing the piano to sound poorly. A good piano technician can help you keep your piano in good working order.
When considering acquiring or replacing the piano, try to get the best piano you can afford. Nothing sets the tone and flavor of the service better than an energetic, God-honoring music program. We must strive to make our music as excellent as possible.
A regular, acoustic, grand piano should always be the first choice when considering a new piano for the church auditorium. Get the longest piano that is appropriate for your auditorium. Be sure to try out as many pianos as possible before purchasing. Get input from your pianists before making the final decision.
There may be several advantages to using digital pianos, such as:
- They never need expensive tuning
- Cheaper purchasing costs
- Greater variety of installed sounds
- Greater portability
- Take up less space
- Ease of plugging into your existing sound system - no messing around with microphone placement
- They do not look as nice
- They do not sound as full and rich
- The feel of the keyboard may not be realistic
- The pianist may be tempted to use other sounds that end up sounding "cheesy"
- The pianist becomes dependent on the sound engineer (often not a musician) to set adequate volume levels for the main speakers and the monitoring system.
- A full 88 keys
- Touch sensitive
- Good weighted piano keyboard feel
- Damper pedal
- High quality piano sound
- Good monitoring system for the pianist
- Sturdy music stand
- Dust cover for the keys when not in use
- Sturdy base
- Heavy duty bench
- High quality cabling to get the outp
Singing Men and Singing Women
Monday, November 16, 2009
Mixed choirs had a long history of usage in the Old Testament. It appears that male Levites were the primary musicians in the temple, but women are noted for their musical abilities as well. The versatility of these groups becomes readily apparent as we consider the following passages of Scripture.
Following the defeat of Sisera, we have a mixed duet being sung by Deborah and Barak.
- "Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves." (Judges 5:1, 2)
- "And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick." (1 Samuel 18:6)
- "[Barzillai said,] I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? wherefore then should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?" (2 Samuel 19:35)
- "And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations." (2 Chronicles 35:25)
- "Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women." (Ezra 2:65)
"Beside their manservants and their maidservants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and they had two hundred forty and five singing men and singing women." (Nehemiah 7:67)
So, What's Your Plan?
Monday, November 23, 2009
The beginning of a new year is always a good time to stop and think about where your music program is headed. As the music director, you should take some time to brainstorm about what you can do to improve the music program at your church.
- "Let all things be done decently and in order." (1Cor. 14:40)
1. Programs and Special Services:
- Christmas program
- Easter Program
- Patriotic Program
- Old-Fashioned Sunday
- Anniversary Sunday
- Revival Services
- Missions Conferences
- Thanksgiving Service
- Other Special Services
- Choir Banquet
- Pianist Appreciation
- Sound Man Appreciation
- Choir Parties
- Choral Clinics
- Christmas Concerts at Malls
- Singing for Nursing Homes
- New Groups
- New Music
- Weekly Special Music Practice
- Sound Checks
- Visiting Groups, College Ensembles, etc.
- Piano Tuning
- Instrument Upgrades
- Graded Choir Program
- Instrument and Vocal Lessons
- Choir Member Recruitment Program
- Yearly Music Budget
- Choir Attendance Records - Reward Faithfulness
- Music Library Organization
- Website for Musicians
- Christmas Gifts
- Recognition of Birthdays/Anniversaries
- Changes to Weekly Service Schedules
- New Songs and Hymns - to be introduced to your congregation
- Take one piece of paper for each of the categories
- Write down everything you can think of that might help your music program grow in each area
- Put on your yearly schedule those things that you feel you can realistically implement in that year
The Role of the Listener
Monday, November 30, 2009 (Edited 8/10/2010)
The well-prepared singer understands the importance of making his music beautiful, full of meaning, and having a depth of communication capable of reaching into the listener's soul to clearly present a powerful message. But what should be the response of the listener? What responsibilities does he have?
Take a look at this interesting passage in the book of Ezekiel which references the fact that Ezekiel's congregation refused to be moved to action:
- "Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them." (Ezekiel 33:30-33)
Our passage here in Ezekiel condemns the children of Israel for their lack of action. They were willing to listen, to attend, to observe, to appreciate, to "consume," to hear, to enjoy the preaching of Ezekiel. However, they missed the critical step of actually applying the Word of God to their lives. There was no life-change.
And they lived to regret their disobedience.
As a musician, concerned with presenting a clear picture of truth through their music, we must do our part to adequately prepare, to sing or play with energy, directness, and passion.
Ultimately, however, the responsibility for life change lies with the audience. Each individual listening to and absorbing true teaching based upon Biblical principles, must personally take the steps necessary for implementing the truths learned.
I am reminded of the song "Stirred but not Changed" by Lanny Wolfe:
- Have I heard it for so long that He’s just another song?
Has the story lost its thrill that I once knew?
Lord, give me a burden that’s so strong,
That it will last when my tears are gone.
I’m tired of what I’ve been. Lord, make me over again.
I’m so tired of being stirred about the lost who need to hear.
I’m so tired of being stirred that His coming is so near;
I’m so tired of being stirred till I cry bitter tears.
I’m so tired of being stirred but not being changed.
- "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:17)
- "And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them." (Deuteronomy 5:1)
- "Then the LORD said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them." (Jeremiah 11:6)
- "And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it." (Luke 8:21)
- "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, decei
Ring the Bells
Monday, December 07, 2009 (Edited 12/20/2009)
One of the more common musical instruments associated with Christmas is bells. Think of songs like "Ring the Bells," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," "Carol of the Bells," "Ding, Dong, Merrily on High," "Hear the Bells Ringing," "Jingle Bells," etc.
As we consider the topic of bells and music, I would like to put in a plug for having a handbell program at your church and school. Although the initial investment can be quite intimidating, the long term benefits to your music program will more than balance out the costs.
My recommendation would be to consider a three octave set of handbells purchased from Schulmerich (www.schulmerichbells.com) or Malmark (www.malmark.com).
- Sound seems to carry better in larger spaces
- More evenly balanced sound between high and low pitches
- Adjustable clapper
- All black handles - optional gold braid on natural notes
- Sound brighter
- Polished inside - look nicer
- White and black handles correspond to black and white piano keys
- Adjustable clapper
- Tend to be a bit less expensive
- Everyone loves to see and hear handbells played well - real crowd pleasers
- Can be played by children and adults of all ages
- Best tool I know of for teaching musicians to feel and read rhythm
- Teaches teamwork
- It is difficult to make handbells sound bad
- They are unusual - will draw a crowd
- Provides an opportunity for non-singers to be involved in making beautiful music
- Borrow a set of handbells from your local handbell representative long enough to play a simple song for a performance. Explain your desire to begin a handbell program and outline the benefits. Begin a "Buy-a-Bell" program in which people can donate enough money to purchase a bell in memory of a loved one. Obtain a plaque displaying the indicated names and hang it on the wall of the handbell practice room. If presented well, this fundraiser can allow you to raise the money necessary to begin a handbell program at your place of ministry.
The Service of Song
Monday, December 14, 2009
- "And these are they whom David set over the service of song in the house of the LORD, after that the ark had rest." (1 Chronicles 6:31)
"All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman." (1 Chronicles 25:6)
There are many possible answers to this question.
- Your flesh - Is your ultimate test the "I like it" test? Be careful!
- Your pastor - Does your pastor feel ready to preach the Word of God with power after having gone through the song service?
- The Lord - Is your music Biblical in content and presentation? If the Jesus of the Bible were sitting on the front row of your church, would He be pleased?
- The congregation - Are the members of your church mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready to receive strong preaching from God's Word after having been exposed to your music?
- The music director - Does your music program only reflect the styles and songs that the music director appreciates?
- The community - Do you design your music program to draw a crowd? What do lost people think of your music? Does it sound just like their music, or does it reflect the "new song" principle?
- Your classically trained sensibilities - Our music ought to be as excellent as we can make it. However, it should not just be pleasing to the artistic ear.
- The Devil - Would Satan be pleased with the styles of music used in your church? Is it rebellious, worldly, sensual, etc.?
Resolutions for a New Year
Monday, January 04, 2010
A new year always brings with it a sense of new beginnings. In our culture, the concept of "New Year's Resolutions" means determining to go on a diet, spend more time with the family, learn something new, etc.
As Christians, we should be entering new situations having already pre-determined to act in a manner that would be pleasing to God. This is a Biblical concept, and one does not have to look far to find examples of men in the Bible who made "resolutions."
Jacob: Resolved to have the blessings of God on his life.
"And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." (Genesis 32:26)
Joseph: Resolved to not commit adultery.
"There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:9)
Daniel: Resolved to not eat the king's meat or drink his wine.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." (Daniel 1:8)
Job: Resolved to not look lustfully at women.
"I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" (Job 31:1)
David: Resolved to trust God fully.
"In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me." (Psalms 56:11)
Peter: Resolved to not deny the Lord, but failed to keep his resolution.
"But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I." (Mark 14:29)
Paul: Resolved to know God and His power.
"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death." (Philippians 3:10)
At this time of year, I am often reminded of this wonderful song which addresses the idea of becoming more resolved to live for God:
I Am Resolved
Palmer Hartsough, James H. Gillmore
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world's delight;
Things that are higher,things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sing and strife;
He is the true One, He is the Just One,
He hath the words of life.
I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living way.
I am resolved to enter the Kingdom,
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.
I will hasten to Him
Hasten so glad and free
Jesus, Greatest, Highest,
I will come to Thee.
Let's resolve to love and serve God more, love and serve people more through our music this year!
Surrounded by God's Song
Monday, January 11, 2010
Have you ever needed encouragement? Have you ever longed for someone to care about your struggles?
- "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." (Psalms 32:5-7)
One of the musical activities that I enjoy the most is directing choirs. There is just something very special about having a large group of musicians, singing a great song with heartfelt passion, singing directly toward me. It is humbling, encouraging, uplifting, stimulating, thought-provoking, and beautiful all at the same time. I can think of nothing else that is quite as uplifting as hearing a large chorus of united voices singing the praises of God together.
Now, picture yourself in your great time of trouble. Feel the pain as you consider your options and see no way out of your situation. Think of your emotional response to the crushing weight of hopelessness and despair. Imagine that suddenly, you begin to hear voices of encouragement, singing, surrounding you. You begin to look around and see great multitudes, encouraging, and cheering you on. As you begin to look closer, you see that the faces of all the singers are the same. You realize that you are looking into the face of God Himself, singing (Zeph. 3:17), surrounding you, encouraging you, telling you that He loves you and will bring you through your great trial. His song is telling you that He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).
God will surround us with songs of deliverance when our hearts are right with Him.
- "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them." (Psalms 103:13-18)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Have you ever seen members of the congregation who stand stone-faced and stoic during the singing portion of the church service? Sometimes, the absence of a desire to sing is an indication that a person is experiencing a difficult time in his life, or that he is depressed and discouraged.
Many times, I believe, the lack of singing belies the fact that an individual has spiritual issues that need to be dealt with.
Singing, according to Scripture, is an indication of joy in the heart, and joy comes as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit of God:
- "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
- "Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?" (Genesis 31:27)
"And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick." (1 Samuel 18:6)
"And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy." (1 Chronicles 15:16)
"The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy." (Job 29:13)
"The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing." (Psalms 65:13)
"O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah." (Psalms 67:4)
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise." (Psalms 98:4)
"Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them." (Psalms 126:2)
"For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." (Isaiah 55:12)
Then, let's sing together the great songs of God with joy in our hearts and smiles on our faces!
The Pleasant Harp
Monday, January 25, 2010 (Edited 1/26/2010)
"Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery." (Psalms 81:2)
A case could certainly be made for the idea that the harp is the most significant musical instrument in the Bible. The harp both begins and ends the Biblical record of man-made instruments. Also, one of the most important Biblical figures, King David himself, was a skilled harp player and commanded that harp music be an integral part of the temple music program as well (II Chr. 29:25).
Here are some other interesting Bible facts concerning the harp:
- The harp is mentioned over 50 times in the Bible.
- The harp is the first man-made musical instrument mentioned in the Bible.
- "And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ." (Genesis 4:21)
- The harp is the last instrument used in the Biblical chronology.
- "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." (Revelation 15:2)
- David, the "man after God's own heart" (I Sam. 13:14), played the harp.
- Harp music helped to cure Saul's physical, emotional, and spiritual problems.
- "And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." (1 Samuel 16:23)
- The harp was used to accompany psalms.
- "Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm." (Psalms 98:5)
- Temple musicians "excelled" on the harp.
- "And Mattithiah, and Elipheleh, and Mikneiah, and Obededom, and Jeiel, and Azaziah, with harps on the Sheminith to excel." (1 Chronicles 15:21)
- The harp was also used for:
- Parties(Gen. 31:27)
- Prophesying (I Chr. 25:1)
- Healing (I Sam. 16:23)
- Mourning (Job 30:31)
- Praising (Ps. 33:2)
- Telling Parables (Ps. 49:4)
- Singing (Ps. 71:22)
- Worshipping Idols (Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, 15)
- Parties(Gen. 31:27)
Personally, I think it would be great to re-introduce the use of harp music in our services. You may wish to consider purchasing a harp and learning to play as well.
For an interesting read, check out the web site of this Jewish family who have recently begun producing harps in Jerusalem: House of Harrari, Biblical Harp Makers
Thank You, Lord, for Music
Monday, February 01, 2010
As I write this post, it is Monday morning. Yesterday was a great day in the house of the Lord. Sunday morning our pastor (who, by the way, has led our church for over 56 years) preached a tremendous message on the life of Joseph entitled "God Meant It for Good." Sunday night we had a guest preacher, Bro. Maury Gibson, deliver a soul-searching message entitled "Who Are You?" based upon the story of Jeroboam's wife disguising herself to go see the man of God. She wanted God's help, but she and her husband did not want God to deal with their sin. Both messages, preached in a clear, straightforward manner and with power, were incredibly relevant, heart-searching and convicting.
Sunday morning, I directed the choir in singing one of their favorite songs, "God's Amazing Grace," published by Bible Truth Music. I could sense that the choir members were expressing their deep heartfelt thankfulness for the grace that God extends to them personally. I empathized with their emotional and spiritual response to the message of the music. I was reminded to be grateful for the grace of God.
Sunday night, the choir sang an acapella song entitled "I Call You to Praise." Again, they did a tremendous job of blending their voices, expressing the message of the song through dynamic and tempo variations, word color, and expressive singing techniques. I and the congregation were led to consider the joy of praising God.
Congregational singing in both services was unified, loud, beautiful, encouraging, and uplifting. We sang hymns and spritual songs that have touched the hearts of Christians over and over again through the years.
I do not know what thoughts and emotions course through the souls of others, but I personally look forward to church. Even though the position of music director involves a lot of preparation and hard work, I do not recall ever regretting the work involved, or dreading going to a service.
I cannot understand the logic of those who feel that church should be a place for performing music that mimics the sounds of the world, those who hate God, those who love their own flesh, those who feel that God owes them something.
As it says in Isaiah 65:14, "My servants shall sing for joy of heart."
What a privilege it is to sing the praises of God! What an honor that He allows us to focus our attention and our music on what He has done for us! What a great God we serve, Who lets us serve Him and give Him the honor that is due unto Him.
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of music and for allowing us the privilege of praising You with our songs!
We're Failing Our Children
Monday, February 08, 2010 (Edited 2/12/2011)
My heart is burdened this week for the families of America. I have been involved with Christian school education my whole life, from kindergarten, through high school, college, master's program, and four different Christian schools since graduation. I have worked with students of all ages, from all different sorts of ethnic backgrounds, different levels of family wealth, different levels of spirituality.
Over the years, I have observed the shift in the culture of Christian homes. Where once hot preaching warned our families of the dangers of worldliness, popular culture, secularism and humanism, today, many churches (and Christian culture at large) have embraced much of what used to be avoided.
And it shows.
Today, many early elementary students act as though singing is a foreign concept. Music is something to be consumed, not performed. Music is something that makes them move, not something that touches their heart and changes their life. Singing on pitch is a struggle, instead of a joy. Energetic participation in musical activities is viewed with suspicion.
I have come to have the distinct impression that most families in today's culture fail to sing.
And that's a shame.
The Christian home should be filled with music. Never before in history has great music been more available for listening to. Everything from good clean folk music to the great classics to soul-searching Christian music should be played often, so as to increase the children's musical vocabulary.
Parents should be singing to their children often. Family devotion time should be a priority in the home, and families ought to spend much time learning psalms, hymns and spiritual songs during this important family activity.
When was the last time you sang a song to your children? When was the last time you sang a song with your children? Do you provide them with instrument lessons? Do they see you singing in your church choir? Do they hear you singing God's praises loudly and joyfully during the time of congregational singing at your church.
In your family, you will get what you honor. More importantly, you will get what you demonstrate.
Be aware of the importance of passing on the gift of music to the next generation.
By the way, the picture included with this blog posting is of the John Marshall family, who have been a special blessing to my family and my home church for many years.
"And the Prisoners Heard Them"
Monday, February 15, 2010 (Edited 2/12/2011)
Paul and Silas were in prison, in stocks, for preaching the gospel in Phillipi. They were bruised and bleeding from being beaten for their "crime." And yet, they still had a song in their heart and, just as importantly, a song in their mouth. They did not just sing softly, hoping not to disturb anyone. Instead, they sang loudly, with energy, so that all could hear the joy in their voices.
- "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (Acts 16:25)
We have a message to deliver that has the power to change lives, and influence people for eternity. We ought to consider the idea that our song should be performed with great energy and excitement.
One does not have to look far into the world of popular music to see performers who put their whole being and energy into communicating a wicked and worldly message. How much more ought the child of God sing to the Lord with energy and passion!
There are several examples in the Old Testament that illustrate the fact that Godly musicians can, and should, exert great passion when singing to the Lord. Read the following passages carefully.
Bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem
- "And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets." (1 Chronicles 13:8)
"And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet." (2 Samuel 6:14-15)
- "And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer. Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off." (Nehemiah 12:42b-43)
"And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off." (Ezra 3:10-13)
Let's open up and sing loudly so that the "prisoners" of this world will hear us and know that we serve the true and living God.
The Heart of the Matter
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 (Edited 2/12/2011)
Please read the following passage concerning the reign of King Jehoshaphat carefully. I believe this story has interesting applications to the ministry of church music:
- "So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about. And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD. Howbeit the high places were not taken away: for as yet the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers." (2 Chronicles 20:30-33)
Have you ever tried to motivate singers whose hearts were obviously not interested in the things of God? What if you are dealing with a group who do not have the "joy of heart" mentioned in Isaiah 65:14?
Music issues are almost always primarily spiritual issues. The heart of the matter of singing is indeed a matter of the heart. The best thing you can do personally for your singing is to make certain your heart is right with God. The best thing you can do for musicians with whom you work, is to be absolutely certain their hearts are right with God.
I believe there are some things that we can do to motivate our singers to have a heart for God:
- Expose them to strong preaching that encourages them to decide to live for God
- Train them to encourage one another in the matter of holiness and clean living
- Teach them to daily submit themselves humbly to the will of God in their lives
- "O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation." (Psalms 95:1)
The Commandment of the Lord
Monday, March 01, 2010 (Edited 2/12/2011)
Whose idea was it, that men should utilize music in the praise and worship of the Lord? Did the plan come from the imagination of a king, prophet, priest, or musician?
According to the Scriptures, God Himself ordained that music be used as an integral part of corporate worship.
- "And he [Hezekiah] set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets." (2 Chronicles 29:25)
I believe this has some important implications that we need to consider:
- Believers who are able to sing, but do not do so, are living in disobedience
- Adequate resources ought to be allocated to the music department
- The pastoral staff must encourage and support participation in music making activities
- Great care must be exercised in keeping the music holy and Biblical
- Music must be performed regularly, and be consistently within high musical and moral standards
- Musicians must be fully prepared to the best of their abilities
- Musicians must be in submission to their spiritual leaders - pastors, music directors
- Musicians must have a blameless walk with God
Which Direction Are You Headed?
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
I once heard a Bible college professor state, "It is not as important where you are in life, as in what direction you are headed." Consider for a moment the fact that we are all broken, sinful creatures, trying to make sense of the broken, sinful world around us. We must, in the midst of conflicting ideas and personal desires, decide which direction we are going to head. Are we going to give God and the Bible the benefit of the doubt, seek God's will in our life, and obey Him? Or, are we going to listen to the lies of the devil and of our own flesh, and follow the paths that lead to our own destruction?
- "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Pro. 14:12)
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Mat 7:13-14)
1. Satan is at war with the plan of God.
- "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." (1 Pet. 5:8-9)
- "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." (Gal. 5:16, 17)
- No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matt. 6:24)
Many people have never made a conscious decision to live for God. They say they love God, but are headed in the direction of the world and the flesh. These folks are going the wrong way. They will not experience the presence and the blessing of God on their lives.
Others have lives that are not yet perfectly conformed to the will of God, but they desperately desire to know God and long to have the victory over their flesh. They are going the right way, but have not yet "made it." These are the folks who are going to be used by God.
Our music is a reflection of the direction we are going. It will either exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, or it will be fleshly and worldly. Maybe it is time we stopped and asked ourselves the questions, "Which way am I going?" and, "What does my music say about my desire to live for God?"
Music for Resurrection Sunday
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 (Edited 3/17/2010)
If your church is like ours, attendance in the worship service is always higher at Easter (which, by the way, I prefer to call "Resurrection Sunday"). Many people will come to church this one time during the year because of family tradition, or perhaps because a church-going relative invites them. This is a great opportunity to witness the love of Christ to those who have never heard it before.
Our entire belief in the concepts of salvation and eternal life as taught in the Scriptures hinges on the fact of the resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then neither will we. And if that is true, we are "of all men most miserable."
- "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:12-22)
It was the Apostle Paul's desire to know Christ and the "power of his resurrection" (Phil. 3:10), and it was this desire that motivated him to become such a powerful testimony to a lost world of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Let's allow the "power of his resurrection" to be reflected in our songs. Sing with excellence and passion. Stir the hearts of your audience to desire to experience the resurrection for themselves. Thank the Lord from the depths of your soul for conquering death and hell. Praise the Lord!
Monday, March 22, 2010
My mother used to say, "Learning is never wasted." The point she was trying to make was, any time we have an opportunity to learn something new, we should enter into the education process with eagerness.
God wants us to be educated, knowledgeable, and wise concerning our life and our work. God puts no premium on our ignorance. We ought to be constantly striving to learn and grow, and to know more about our subject matter.
- "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels." (Proverbs 1:5)
"My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path." (Proverbs 2:1-9)
- "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man." (Luke 2:52)
- "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5)
- Take every available opportunity to learn more about music, so that you can better use music as a tool to serve the Lord.
- Find yourself a mentor, someone who can help you grow.
- Pray to God for wisdom.
- Read and study Bible passages that deal with the subject of music.
- Take a class or online course that will help train you in your area of ministry.
- Read good books dealing with music theory, music ministry, and music standards.
- Subscribe to Godly magazines that will help you become wise.
- Be prepared to help those who have genuine questions concerning Biblical music standards.
- "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:15b)
Habakkuk - The Musical Prophet
Monday, April 26, 2010 (Edited 2/12/2011)
Toward the end of the Old Testament, we come across a book in the minor prophets in which we discover the musical expression of a preacher named Habakkuk. The book of Habakkuk contains many stern warnings for the people of Judah. Like many of the prophets, he paints a picture of terrible judgements that will fall upon the wicked, those who turn their backs on God, and those who seek to oppress the people of God.
There are many passages in Habakkuk that have become well-known because of their succinct presentation of deep truth, and made famous by such men as Martin Luther:
- "The just shall live by his faith." (2:4)
- "Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink." (2:15)
- "The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him." (2:20)
- "O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years." (3:2)
- "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops." (vss 1-16)
- "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21b)
- "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon min high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments." (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs
Monday, May 03, 2010 (Edited 2/12/2011)
In two different passages of Scripture, the Apostle Paul admonishes believers to sing three distinct types of songs: psalms, hymns and spirituals songs.
- "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:19)
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16)
Psalm: a song taken from the book of Psalms in the Bible, or based directly on the words of Scripture
- O God, Our Help in Ages Past - Psalm 90
Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken - Psalm 87
He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills - Psalm 50
I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord - Psalm 89
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness
And Can It Be That I Should Gain
Come, Thou Almighty King
O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
- Just a Closer Walk with Thee
Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary
Victory in Jesus
No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus
Oh, Lord, Make Me More Like Asaph!
Friday, August 26, 2011
I have known since I was Jr. High age that my calling in life was to be involved in church music. It has been amazing to me how strongly the thread of church music runs through my life, from singing in family devotions, to singing for church as an elementary child, singing for school competitions, singing in church choir, involving myself in every possible singing opportunity at college, traveling with college singing groups, recording at Faith Music Missions, being a full time music director, etc.
Recently, I have been taking some online business courses and reading books that have helped me delve deeply into what makes me tick, what my interests are, and what brings me great satisfaction. In doing so, I have had to stop and evaluate why music has such a strong draw for me.
Here is a list of reasons that I came up with:
- God has moved me deeply through the medium of music.
- Music allows me to express deeply felt messages of truth from my heart to the heart of others.
- I am fascinated by the capability of music to communicate on many different levels simultaneously - intellect, emotion, physical, spiritual.
- When I sing, I don't have to be spontaneous - the words and music are known beforehand. I am not comfortable communicating on an "ad lib" basis, as in preaching.
- When I sing, I receive positive confirmation that others have been moved by the message of the song - through facial expressions, body language, and verbal comments.
- I am simply enamored with sound - I love to study acoustics, the physics of music, the patterns of sound that make up music, instruments with unique timbres, different scales and modes of other cultures, tongue twisters, languages, accents, etc. I am very aurally oriented.
- I enjoy the team effort of combining my skills with others to create beauty, and to express powerful messages that speak to the audience.
- I enjoy spreading the joy of music to others, particularly children.
Following in the footsteps of Asaph, I have sung (1 Chr. 15:19), performed on instruments (1 Chr. 15:19), taught music to others, composed songs (Psalm 50, 73-83), recorded and published songs for others (1 Chr. 16:7), taught and preached about music and through music (2 Chr. 29:30), and taught my children to love music (1 Chr. 25:2, 6).
I think the one area I struggle most with, however, is how to leverage my life to help more people become better musicians for the Lord. Our world certainly needs more Biblically qualified musicians who are producing, teaching, preaching, performing, publishing, Godly music.
Oh, Lord, make me more like Asaph!
Free Academic Calendar for 2011-2012
Thursday, September 08, 2011 (Edited 9/9/2011)
Every year, I make a printable academic calendar for my personal use. If you would like to have one for your use, please feel free to download it here:
Free 2010-2011 Academic Calendar
I hope that many of you find it helpful.
Curtis holds a bachelor's degree in Bible with a music minor, as well as a master's degree in Sacred Music, having studied under Dr. Frank Garlock, president of Majesty Music, and Ray and Ann Gibbs, well-known Christian singers. He has served as music director and jr. high/high school supervisor at Grace Baptist Church of Mankato, Minnesota; school music director at the Franklin Road Christian School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; media engineer for the Sword of the Lord in Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and, full-time music director at Second Baptist Church and Twin City Christian Academy in Festus, Missouri. He is currently self-employed and serves in the music ministry of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. Curtis is co-founder and President of the Asaph Music Co. He regularly sings bass with the Bible Truth Chorale on recordings produced by Bible Truth Music at Faith Music Missions.