CCM (1) -Scriptural Principles for Music
Written by Eric Moerdyk
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Reformed Practice - Music

The following article is a part of Rev. Moerdyk's booklet in which he evaluates Christian Contemporary Music from a Biblical perspective.

Music spans the ages, from creation through to the new heavens and earth. We read in Job 38:7 that the stars sang, and the sons of God shouted for joy when He laid the foundation of the earth. We are told in the book of Revelation that the Church of God will sing a new song to Him in heaven. Further, the Triune God also sings. The Father is said to rejoice over His people with singing (Zeph 3:17). The Son sang with His disciples regularly (Matt 26:30), and also will sing among His brethren in the Church (Hebrews 2:12). When the Holy Spirit fills His people, song is the result (Eph 5:18-19). Scripture regularly commands us to come before God with singing (ex Psalm 100). We see therefore that music is a blessing from God. Martin Luther wrote, “Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”

Music was given to us by God in order that with it we might glorify Him, and bring to Him the honor which is His due (Psalm 150). It honors God by speaking of His attributes, works, and salvation. It has been given to instruct us, admonish us, and encourage us. It is the means created by God for us to give expression to sorrow, conviction of sin, joy in God through the gospel, and adoration of God. Like all of God’s gifts, it has been given for us to richly enjoy (I Tim 6:17). The enjoyment of the gift of music reaches its peak when it is most God- honoring, when it glorifies Him.

Needless to say, music has been affected by the fall. This affect is twofold. First of all the words which are set to music are tainted by sin. Since the words of men reveal the abundance which is found in their hearts (Matt 12:34), and since the abundance of the heart of man is corrupt, the words men set to music often displease God. Second the form of the music itself has been distorted. The order, beauty, and harmony that characterize all of God’s creation, being the works of the God of order, have also been disrupted to varying degrees. Therefore it is possible to speak of better and worse kinds of music, as well as good and bad individual songs. In analyzing the music of any era, we need to examine both its words and musical form.

We also need to recognize the impact of redemption on music as the gift of God. Scripture often uses the word ‘new’ to describe the song of God’s people. In fact, the word ‘new’ is used more often to speak of song than anything else in the Bible. This newness reflects the awareness of the Church that it stands in restored fellowship with God because the guilt and power of sin have been overcome. The awareness of this transformation stamps the songs of the people of God with a new character, in distinction from the decaying productions of the world.

This means that the music of the Christian must be distinguished from the music of the world, both in form and content. The music of scripture is soaked and pervaded by the awareness of redemption. The redeeming power of God both in His redemptive historical acts and in the lives of His people as individuals is the theme of all of the songs of scripture. Even Psalms that speak of the blessing of marriage and material prosperity explicitly anchor their celebration of these gifts of God in redemption, in His blessing (note Psalm 127, 128).

Rev. Eric Moerdyk is pastor of Monarch Free Reformed Church in Alberta, Canada.