The Music of the Church

Adult Sunday School – Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church

Spring 2002


Class #3  (5/12/2002) - Mr. Bill Hoover


I.          The Hebrew Psalms – The First Songs of the Church


A.      Authors of the 150 Psalms

1.       75 were written by David – a skilled poet and singer (I Sam. 16:14-23)

2.       One by Moses (Ps 90), two by Solomon (Ps 72, 127)

3.       24 by various Levites (Asaph, Ethan, Heman, and the sons of Korah)

4.       48 are anonymous


B.      The Musical Levites

1.       A vast corps of fathers and sons (I Chr 25) trained and dedicated for the LORD’s music; part of the priestly tribe of Levi

a.       288 trained leaders (I Chr 25:7) and 4000 instrumentalists (I Chr 23:5)

2.       The key leaders:  Asaph, Heman, Ethan, Kenaniah

a.       Commissioned in I Chr 15:17, 19, 22

b.       Trained and supervised their sons in the ministry (I Chr 25)

c.        Authored several Psalms (Asaph – Ps 73-83; Heman – Ps 88; Ethan – Ps 89)

3.       Their duties: 

a.       They wrote Psalms, composed music for them, led the singing of them, and accompanied them with musical instruments

b.       Skillful in music (I Chr 15:22; 25:7)

Š          The Church should require and support excellence in music leadership and accompaniment.  The Church is blessed when it can financially support music leaders and musicians that can dedicate themselves to musical excellence

c.        “Instructed in the songs of the LORD” (I Chr 25:7)

Š          Church music leaders must be trained in the the proper selection and use of music for worship.  It is not enough to be skilled musically.

Š          The music of the Church should “grow up” and develop from within the Church.  This happened in various periods of Church history (Hebrew Psalms, medieval period, Reformation era).  Today the Church often imports music from the modern pop culture rather than “growing her own.”


C.      Instrumental accompaniment

1.       Psalms were (originally) sung to instruments David had built to accompany them (I Chr 23:5)

2.       A variety of instruments were used – strings, harps, cymbals, trumpets, timbrel (tambourine), lyres, flute (I Chr 15:16-24; I Chr 25; Ps 150)

a.       The basic families of the modern orchestra – strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion!

3.       We have no problem with using many instruments. 

a.       Piano or organ allows the regular accompanist to play the full accompaniment himself.  The organ was designed to be an orchestra-in-one.

b.       Other skilled instrumentalists have often served at our church and are welcome to play as often as they wish.

c.        Guitars are fine.  They are the modern equivalent of the lyre and so are very Scriptural.  But using guitars doesn’t mean we have to play pop-sounding music.  Skilled guitarists can accompany hymns, psalms, and chants

d.       The issue isn’t which instruments are used, it’s what music is played, and how it’s presented.


D.      Exuberant Singing

1.       The Psalms were sung joyfully, loudly, and with shouts (“Shout unto the lord”; “Make a joyful noise…”)

2.       Tips for exuberant singing:

a.       Smile!

b.       Let your eyes show the joy in your heart.

c.        Keep your head up, and hold the hymnal out in front of you, not down low.  Don’t crane your neck down.

d.       Stand up straight.

e.       Breathe deeply from your abdomen (diaphragm), not by lifting your shoulders.

f.          Sing the words energetically and clearly; don’t mumble.

g.       Sing out – if you don’t, the people around you won’t, either.