Music involved in Worship


I am currently in a heated discussion with someone on another forum concerning Music used during Worship.

They have stated very clearly that music was not used in worship for for several centuries, and that it apparently is a new invention.
Specificly it was stated thus:

Also, is there any one who cares to comment on the historical fact that music in worship was not used for almost a thousand years after Christ, and did not become wide-spread until the late 1500’s.

I find this highly suspicious, but need some concrete knowledge before challenging this.

Another thing about this…eventually (though he has not said in this quote) this will degrade into “musical instrument played alone with out vocal accompaniment.”

So if someone out there could give me some concrete knowledge of exactly such music used in worship throughout history (and the sources so I can read up on it myself) I would be much abliged.

Thanks all.


I read a book on the history of the liturgy about ten years ago that said that almost all the prayers and readings at Mass were sung from the earliest times. Since the psalms were extensively used in the Temple worship and were written to be sung and accompanied with the harp that would not be at all surprising. Parts of some of the New Testament writings are said to be parts of early hymns.

The type of music or singing used in the liturgy varied from place to place and eventually the Roman fashion spread to Gaul and the British Isles, soon followed by Gregorian Chant.


You are dealing with a Church of Christ, who prides themselves on NOT having musical instruments in worship.

The Ministry of Music

“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 … instruments of music, … 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.” II Chronicles 5:13, 14

I. The history of musical instruments can be traced throughout the Bible.

 A.  The earliest instruments of music (Hebrew, kinnor, translated "harp" in Genesis 4:21) were invented by a man named Jubal.
 B.   Other instruments were later made by David (I Chronicles 23:5; II Chronicles 7:6; 29:26) and Solomon (II Chronicles 9:11).
 C.   Some were made of silver (Numbers 10:1, 2), some of brass (I Chronicles 15:19), and some of fir wood (II Samuel 6:5).
 D.  The use of musical instruments in worship can be seen both in the Old (I Chronicles 13:8; II Chronicles 5:12,13; Nehemiah 12:35-41; etc.) and in the New Testaments (Revelation 5:8, 9; 14:2, 3; 15:20; 18:22).
 E.   However, instruments were used on occasions other than the worship of God.
        1.   The timbrel (tambourine) was popular in use with dance to celebrate military victories.
                      Exodus 15:1-21
                      Judges 11:34
                      I Samuel 18:6, 7
        2.   The trumpet had multiple uses.
               a.   To proclaim feast days.
                                Leviticus 23:23-25; 25:9
               b.   To gather an assembly.
                                Numbers 10:1-8
               c.   To sound an alarm for battle against the enemy.
                                Numbers 10:9
                                Nehemiah 4:18, 20
                                Joel 2:1
                                Amos 3:6
                                Jeremiah 4:19
                                I Corinthians 14:8
               d.   To herald the arrival of a new king.
                                I Kings 1:34-41
         3.   The harp and oboe were used during joyous secular festivities.
                                Isaiah 5:12
                                Amos 5:23; 6:4-6
         4.   The oboe was also played during funeral ceremonies.
                                Matthew 9:23
         5.   Solomon listened to music for his own personal enjoyment.
                                Ecclesiastes 2:1, 8
         6.   Many instruments came to be used in the worship of pagan gods.
                                Daniel 3:4-7, etc.


II. The musical inventions of Jubal (Genesis 4:21) eventually led to the development of many varied instruments.

    A.   Stringed instruments.
                   Psalms 33:2; 150:4
                   Isaiah 38:20
            1.   Viols.
                           Isaiah 14:11; Amos 5:23; 6:5
            2.   Psaltery, harp and lyre.
                           Genesis 4:21; 31:26, 27; I Samuel 10:5
                           II Samuel 6:5
                           I Kings 10:12
                           I Chronicles 13:8; 15:16, 28; 16:5, 42; 25:1, 6
                           II Chronicles 5:12, 13; 9:11; 20:28; 29:25
                           Nehemiah 12:27; Job 21:12; 30:31
                           Psalms 33:2; 71:22; 92:3; 108:2; 137:4; 144:9; 149:3; 150:3
                           Isaiah 5:12; 30:32; Ezekiel 26:13
                           Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, 15
                           I Corinthians 14:7; Revelation 5:8; 14:2; 15:2
              3.   Dulcimer.
                           Daniel 3:5, 10, 15
       B.   Wind instruments.
              1.   Trumpet, horn and cornet.
                           Leviticus 25:9; Numbers 10:1-10
                           Joshua 6:5, 20; Judges 7:16-22
                           I Kings 1:34, 41
                           I Chronicles 13:8; 15:28; 16:42; 25:5
                           II Chronicles 5:12, 13; 15:14; 29:26-29; Ezra 3:10
                           Nehemiah 12:35, 41; Psalms 98:6; 150:3
                           Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, 15
                           Hosea 5:8; Zechariah 9:14, 15
              2.   Flute (sometimes translated "pipe" or "organ").
                           Genesis 4:21; I Samuel 10:5; I Kings 1:40
                           Job 21:12; 30:31
                           Psalms 150:4; Isaiah 5:12; 30:29; Jeremiah 48:36
                           Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, 15; Luke 7:32
              3.   Sackbut (trombone).
                           Daniel 3:5, 7, 10, 15
   C.  Percussion instruments.
              1.   Cymbals.
                           II Samuel 6:5
                           I Chronicles 13:8; 15:16, 19, 28; 16:5, 42; 25:1, 6
                           II Chronicles 5:12, 13; 29:25
                           Ezra 3:10
                           Nehemiah 12:27
                           Psalms 150:5
                           I Corinthians 13:1
              2.   Tambourine (timbrel; or tabret, pl.).
                           Genesis 31:27; Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34
                           I Samuel 10:5; 18:6
                           II Samuel 6:5; I Chronicles 13:8; Job 21:12
                           Psalms 68:25; 81:2; 149:3; 150:4; Jeremiah 31:4
              3.   Bells.
                           Exodus 28:33-35
              4.   Sistra or rattle (Hebrew "mnaamin" = cornets).
                           II Samuel 6:5
              5.   Triangle ("shalishim," here translated "instruments of music").
                           I Samuel 18:6


III. What place does human training or natural talent have in the ministry of music?

     A.   Some skill (human training) is involved in ministering through music.
                      I Samuel 15:22  "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
                      I Samuel 16:17  "And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me."
                      Psalms 33:3  "Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise."
                      I Chronicles 15:22  "And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skillful."
                      I Chronicles 25:7  "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."
     B.   In the Old Testament there were instructors of music.
                      I Chronicles 15:22
                      I Chronicles 25:7, 8
                      II Chronicles 23:12
     C.   However, skill is not enough. It is the anointing that breaks the yoke (I Samuel 16:18). There is a realm of prophetic music.
                      I Samuel 16:14-23  "But the spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let 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. 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. Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep. And Jesse took an *** laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul. And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favour in my sight. 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."
                      II Kings 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."
                      I Chronicles 25:1, 3, 6, 7  "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 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.... 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."
        D.   As a musician, David was famous for both the skill by which he played and the anointing under which he ministered.
                      I Samuel 16:16-23
        E.   Truly anointed music has a powerful effect on its hearers.
                      1.   Spiritual deliverance may be obtained.
                                   Samuel 16:14-23
                                   Psalms 149:5-9
                      2.   "The priests could not stand to minister" because the Presence of the Lord was so real.
                                    II Chronicles 5:13, 14
                                    Psalms 149:5-9
                      3.   It lifts the ministry about to come forth.
                                    II Kings 3:14-16


IV. The scriptures repeatedly exhort us to "sing unto the Lord!"
Exodus 15:21
Psalms 33:3; 81:1; 149:1; etc.
Ephesians 5:18, 19

     A.   Singing was a very prominent part of worship in the Old Testament.
                     I Chronicles 16:9
                     Ezra 2:41
                     Nehemiah 7:6 7
                     Psalms 66:2, 4; 68:4, 25, 32; etc.
              1.   Solomon's songs numbered 1,005.
                             I Kings 4:32
              2.   David had a choir of 288 voices.
                             I Chronicles 25:7
              3.   Worship in song marked many of the historical achievements of Israel.
                      a.   Moses and the children of Israel, at the crossing of the Red Sea.
                                    Exodus 15:1, 2, 21
                      b.   Deborah and Barak, at the defeat of Sisera.
                                    Judges 5
                      c.   David and all Israel, at the bringing up of the ark of God.
                                    I Chronicles 15
                      d.   The Levites, at the foundation of the house of the Lord.
                                    II Chronicles 5:12                                         Ezra 3:11
                       e.   The dedication of the wall of Jerusalem.
                                    Nehemiah 12:27-29
            4.   Those who were exceptionally skillful were appointed to be songleaders.
                          I Chronicles 15:22, 27  "And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilful.... and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers ... "
                          Nehemiah 12:46  "For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God."
      B.   Jesus and His disciples sang when gathered together.
                          Matthew 26:30 (Mark 14:26)  "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives."
      C.   The early church knew the power of praising God in song.
                          Acts 2:46, 47; 16:25, 26
                           I Corinthians 14:15, 26
                           Ephesians 5:19
                           Colossians 3:16
                           James 5:13
      D.   The angels of God worship continually in song.
                          Isaiah 6:3
                           Luke 2:13, 14
      E.   This is what we will be doing for all eternity.
                          Revelation 5:9; 14:3; 15:3


V. There is a difference between singing prepared music, in which the words and tune are set (II Chronicles 29:28), and the spontaneous, unpremeditated melody of “singing in the spirit” (Colossians 3:16).

    A.  Spiritual worship is different from any type of natural singing.
                    I Corinthians 14:15
    B.   It is "a new song," never before heard.
                     Psalms 33:3; 149:1
    C.   It is acceptable in the assembly as well as in private prayer.
                     Acts 4:24 all with one accord
                     Ephesians 5:18, 19

VI. Did dancing historically have any place among the people of God?
A. Dancing commonly took place at the celebration of military victories.
I Samuel 18:6
I Samuel 21:11 "And 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?"
I Samuel 30:16 "And 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."
B. It was accompanied very early by the playing of musical instruments and singing.
Exodus 15:20, 21
Judges 11:34
I Samuel 18:6; 2:11
Job 21:11, 12
C. Both men (I Samuel 6:14; 30:16; I Chronicles 15:29; Acts 3:6-8) and women (Exodus 15:20, 21; Judges 2:21; 11:34; I Samuel 18:6) took part in this means of expression.
D. Although intended for the praise of God (Psalms 149:3; 150:4), dancing soon came to be a common practice in the worship of pagan gods as well (Exodus 32:6; 19; I Kings 18:26).
E. As an expression of joy (Psalms 30:11; Lamentations 5:15), dancing is prophetically described by Jeremiah as present among God’s people at the fulfillment of the promise of full restoration.
Jeremiah 31:4 "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."
Jeremiah 31:13 "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."
F. “David danced before the Lord with all his might” at the bringing up of the ark of God.
II Samuel 6:5, 14 (I Chronicles 13:8) NOTE: The same word literally translated “danced” in verse 14 is in verse 5 mistranslated "played."
G. Although evil when used to appeal to the carnal nature of man (Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:22), dancing is appropriate in its place (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and is not to be despised (I Chronicles 15:29). The scriptures exhort us to praise God in dance (Psalms 149:3; 150:4).


VII. Individual heart attitudes and entire group participation are both very important, for the Spirit to move in a worship service.

      A.   The importance of unity.
                  II Chronicles 5:13, 14  " ... 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 (singular) ... then the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud ... 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."
                   Acts 2:1-4  "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues ... and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues... "
        B.   "With gladness" and joy.
                   I Chronicles 15:16
                   II Chronicles 29:28, 30
                   Nehemiah 12:27
        C.   "With all their might."
                   I Chronicles 13:8
        D.   "In your heart" (not routinely) and "to the Lord" (not to each other or to an audience).
                   Colossians 3:16
                   Ephesians 5:19

VIII. Whether by the use of instruments, song, or dance, music is a very scriptural means of expression towards God.

        A.   Hundreds of scripture verses describe or make reference to the purest form of music – the spiritual worship that will fill all eternity.
                         Psalms 150; etc.
                         Revelation 5:8-14; 7:15; etc.
         B.   This liberty of expression is a delight to God (Psalms 149:3, 4). It is the very purpose for which man was created (Revelation 4:11).

Musical Instruments in Church Services
For almost a thousand years Gregorian chant, without any instrumental or harmonic addition, was the only music used in connection with the liturgy. The organ, in its primitive and rude form, was the first, and for a long time the sole, instrument used to accompany the chant. It gave the pitch to the singers and added brilliancy and sonority. In secular music, however, instruments played an important role at an early date. It may be said that instrumental music developed simultaneously with the secular music itself. The troubadours, trouveres, and jongleurs (who flourished in France, Italy, and Spain from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries inclusive), and their English contemporaries, the minstrels or wayfarers, as well as the minnesingers in Germany during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, accompanied their chants and lyric improvisations on instruments.

1 Corinthians 10:23-31 (King James Version)

**23All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. **

24Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.

25Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:

26For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.

27If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

28But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:

29Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?

30For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Basically, Musical instruments do edify the Body of Christ in praise to our Lord. They are part of “all that is lawful”. And, one uses said instrument for the glory of God.


Correct…I thought I had been obscure concerning the denomination, but I guess the music teaching is unique to them.:rolleyes:

I can solidly establish music throughout both old and new testament, but I am having great difficulty with his fantastic claim that musical instrument was not used in Worship.

Your posts were more then I can digest in one sitting, so I will read through and respond back later.
Thanks for the wealth of information.


Gregorian Chant has been the ‘official’ music of the church since the very early days of the church. It was evolved from the plainsong psalmody of the ancient Jewish worship (i.e. David).

Though Gregorian Chant was in use before this time, Pope St. Gregory the Great codified it during his pontificate (590 - 604). Also, although most musicologists ascribe the beginning date of Western music to be the Medieval Period begining circa 1150, many composers were writing Mass settings long before this time. The principal point of this specific date is that music was beginning to be written down in notation (“neumes”).

I think the main confusion that the person to whom you are speaking is having is that the organ did not gain widespread acceptance as an instrument of worship untill the 15th century (having an extremely pagan connotation in its Roman past).

With regard to other instruments and forms of music in the church (including traditional “hymns”), they weren’t truly accepted as fitting until the 1960’s. Until that time, Gregorian Chant and the Organ were the principals (technically, they still are).

Here are a couple of Catholic Encyclopedia articles regarding the subject:
Music of the Mass
Musical Instrument in Church Services
Gregorian Chant

This book also seems to be fitting for your particular discussion (link is to eBook):
The History of Catholic Church Music


The Greek word ode is translated into song in (Rev 4:8; 5:9; and 14:3) In these cases they are singing the eucharistic song of heaven. This is the same song we sing at the Catholic Mass. "holy, holy, holy. We see the word ode in the next verses as well.

Ephesians 5:18
And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
addressing one another (in) psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts,
giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, **giving thanks **to God the Father through him.

In these verses the word ode is also linked to the word eucharisteo which means thankgiving. *Eucharisteo * is the root of our word Eucharist.

What does it all mean? “Singing an ode” is a specialized phrase in the New Testament that is linked by context to the thanksgiving we give to God in the Mass, the Eucharist. Our thanksgiving is due to the salvation Christ won for us when He “was slain” (Rev 5:9)


Ryan :slight_smile:


I have worshipped regularly in Catholic parishes in at least two cities where specialists in early instrumental and vocal music provide liturgical music, so I guess they did not get the memo


Well, I can show musical song throughout history, but it is only a matter of time before he amends himself to “musical instrument alone” That is, the song with no words or vocal accompaniment.

Any ideas where and how to address that?


Try my post below . . .


I hope this isn’t a stretch. If it is, take it for what it is worth.

the Apostles observed regular hours of prayer, such as the Jews had observed for centuries. The Old Testament custom is found in Psalm 55:18 and Daniel 6:11, and the New Testament custom is found in Acts 3:1 and 10:9. So, we see the practice of praying at the first (6 a.m.), third (9 a.m.), sixth (noon), and ninth (3 p.m.) hours was carried over into the Church from the start.


Today, we Catholics sing the psalms at our litergy, such as the Jews did. If you can prove that the Church also continued this tradition right from the start, you’ve made your case.

Psalm 55:1 refers to the psalmist as “the leader”, who is instructed to play a “stringed instruments” while singing the “A maskil of David”

Maybe that approach will work for you.


Ryan :slight_smile:


The part I’ve bolded above is what is used by CoC apologists to deny the usage of musical instruments. My response is that it doesn’t mention using voices either; all the singing and playing (the KJV calls it “making melody”) is in the heart. So according to a literal interpretation that verse, we’re just supposed to sit silently and imagine that we’re singing.

Yeah, right. :rolleyes:



a readers digest of my posts,

1 Corinthians 10:23-31 (King James Version)

23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things **edify **not.

31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Basically, Musical instruments do **edify **the Body of Christ in praise to our Lord. They are part of “all that is lawful”. And, one uses said instrument for the glory of God.

He is right that there was a period where the church was limited in its use of musical instruments,

Scripture is full of examples of the use of musical instruments to praise God

Scripture does NOT forbid the use of musical insturments – they are permissible and meet the three condictions of the passage above which are “permissible or lawful”, “edify” and employed for “God’s glory”.

I suggest you open the links and print them out for off line reading.

Also, Romans 14, musical instruments in general do not cause a bother to stumble into sin — expect him to confuse types of music like acid rock with the instruments themselves. I cor 14 points out that instruments have different uses.


P.S. be sure to check out my thread on the influnces of the christian connection movement because they gave us many of the cults like boston unitarians, jehovah’s witnesses, seventh day adventism ( arian type ), mormons, restoration movement which includes church of christ — and king james onlyism.


Not to derail the thread but what I personally dislike in church is when the nature of the music subtracts from the reverance in the church making us into hoping clapping baptists. (Not that I dislike said faith its just we are not them) In doing so we seem to be losing our Identity.


Have you asked them for some verification of their claim?


I am trying to lead him in that direction, but it is difficult.

I have already been able to get him to admit musical instrument was used throughout the old testament.
This he has dismissed as “old covenant” and that we are not to follow it.

I am trying to get him to answer now for what evidence he has that the churched changed anything at all concerning musical instrument from the OT to the NT.

It is like pulling teeth.

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