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
"Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs"
Over the last 100 years, the church's attitude toward music has changed dramatically. The ability to "personalize" music via a variety of electronic media was the catalyst for this incredible change. The advent of the 20th century (and Thomas Edison's invention of the phonograph!) allowed for personal taste, and individualism gradually became the norm regarding music used in church.
In the past, music's ability to enlighten the various aspects of corporate worship was the determining factor for its usage. Hence, St. Paul's admonition to the church at Colosse was driven by his desire to have the congregation support one another in the conduct of their spirituality. He expected the Colossians to encourage and admonish one another as they worshiped from Sunday to Sunday.
But for today's church, spiritual unity is not an issue: in reality it is "all about me...it's what I like...or what ministers to me." Our culture has enthroned the individual to such an extent that personal taste and subjective discrimination has become the driving factor for music selection in the church.
"I like green, you like blue--so what? One is as good as the other. There is no right or wrong music." To state that JS Bach's music is better than the latest Christian contemporary musical style stretches the modern church to its limit of incredulity. The contemporary belief that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" has lead the church away from an objective way to select music.
But, this was not a part of the Apostle Paul's theological (and musical) lexicon. Music had a distinct spiritual purpose; personal (individual) enjoyment was not to be a part of the musical equation. As the "Word of Christ" indwelt a believer, it produced a song that was distinctly biblical, a song to be used for "teaching and admonishing one another" spiritually!
Music's worth was valued for its ability to edify and admonish fellow believers in the truth of Scripture. Jean Calvin, influenced by St. Augustine, valued music that "took the church away from the world and into the structure of God's Word."
We'll discuss this further next week. May God continue to guide us in our ministry of music.
To God be the Glory!