WHAT DO THE SCHOLARS SAY ABOUT INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN WORSHIP?
Some often boast that they are not concerned with what the scholars say; but we are indebted to scholars for the English translation of the Bible. How can we say we don’t care about scholarship?
There is unity among scholars that the early Christians did not use mechanical instruments of music. Dr. Curt Sachs of Columbia University, an eminent musicologist has said, “All ancient Christian music was vocal.”
Lyman Coleman, an outstanding Presbyterian scholar wrote, “…it is generally admitted that the primitive Christians employed no instrumental music in their religious worship” (The Primitive Church, page 370-371). Emil Nauman said, “There can be no doubt that originally the music of the divine service was everywhere entirely of a vocal nature” (This History of Music, Vol. 1, page 177). Joseph Bingham, of the Church of England, in his book, Antiquities of The Church says, “Music in the church is as ancient as the apostles, but instrumental music is not.”
Dr. Frederick Louis Ritter said, “We have no real knowledge of the exact character of the music which formed a part of the religious devotion of the first Christian congregations. It was, however, purely vocal” (The History of Music From The Christian Era To The Present, page 28). John Calvin, in his commentary on the 23rd Psalm said, “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law.” Adam Clarke, noted Methodist preacher, puts it in these words, “Music, as a science, I esteem and admire. But instruments of music in the house of God, I abominate and abhor” (Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. 1, page 686).
If so many denominational leaders are against instruments why do their denominations use them? Next week we will consider some of their objections. May the Lord bless you and keep you!
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