Musical Instruments in Worship


My uncle claims that the use of musical instruments in worship should be forbidden. Now, I love chant, but that unused degree in music I have sure makes me want to support the use of musical instruments outside of the voice during worship. Is their any scriptural or historical support of the use of instruments?


The Psalms were always sung with instrumental accompaniment. Paul tells both the Ephesians and Colossians to sing Psalms.

Eph 5:19 - Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Col 3:16 - 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.


Is that historically known or how do you know that they used musical instruments outside of the voices.

Thank you in advance.


I remember several years ago, I had two acquaintances who were members of the Church of Christ, a fundamentalist, non-denominational sect. However, they attended two different churches, one of which used music in their worship. The other church believed that the use of music was prohibited by scripture. These two guys used to go around, and around, and around with each other over this issue. I’m talking about screaming arguments that often stopped just short of violence. Now, I may not be the most knowledgeable guy when it comes to scripture, but the whole issue struck me as being, well, not an issue.


Look at the Psalms themselves - some of them say that they’re specifically written for a particular instrument. And check out Psalm 150!


My thought is, if God gives you the talent for music - whether instruments or vocal - what better place to use it than in the worship of God?


A very good point. Some of the psalms specifically require instruments, either because the text says things like, “Praise God with trumpets,” or because the introduction to the psalm explains it was written for the lyre or some such thing. If Paul is telling people to sing these things, then he is endorsing the use of instruments. If we weren’t supposed to use them, he would not say tosing psalms which tell us to use instruments without telling us to sing them but to not use instruments.


I think I’d ask your uncle to give facts to back up his assertion that musical instruments in worship should be forbidden. Is there clear evidence in Scripture that forbids instruments in worship? Is there a condemnation in early Church history that forbids musical instruments? Or is this just his opinion?

It is quite evident in even a cursory look through the Psalms that musical instruments were very much used in praise of the Lord. There is absolutely no evidence in Scripture that musical instruments should be forbidden. In fact, the Psalms attest to exactly the opposite.


Typically, the denomination (though they consider themselves non-denominational because they are autonomous) that insists upon no musical instruments in worship consider themselves “New Testament” churches. The Old Testament is good for historical reference, but not binding or applicable at all for Christians. :rolleyes: That’s why I like to point out the verses in the New Testament that speak of using Psalms in worship. It’s because they think the New Testament is “silent” on the use of musical instruments that they do not belong in worship. It’s not so silent after all. :smiley:


I searched around for some specific references for you from the Psalms:

Psalm 33:1-3
1 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Praise the LORD with the lyre,
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song,
play skilfully on the strings,
with loud shouts.

Psalm 43:4
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise thee with the lyre, O God, my God.

Psalm 57:8
8 Awake, my soul! Awake,
O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!

Psalm 71:22
22 I will also praise thee with the harp for thy faithfulness,
O my God; I will sing praises to thee with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 81:1-3
1 Sing aloud to God our strength;
shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
2 Raise a song, sound the timbrel,
the sweet lyre with the harp.
3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
at the full moon, on our feast day.

Psalm 92:1-3
1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to thy name, O Most High;
2 to declare thy steadfast love in the morning,
and thy faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.

Psalm 98:4-6
4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD,
all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!

Psalm 108:1-3
1 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody! Awake, my soul!
2 Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
3 I will give thanks to thee, O LORD,
among the peoples,
I will sing praises to thee among the nations.

Psalm 147:7
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God upon the lyre!

Psalm 149:3
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with timbrel and lyre!

Psalm 150
1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his exceeding greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with timbrel and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

Now if that’s not enough to convince someone that musical instruments should be used in worship (or at the very least that they not be forbidden), I don’t know what is!


If God found the use of musical instruments in worship offensive, I seriously doubt that he would allow the twenty-four elders worshiping before his throne in heaven to hold harps. (Revelation 5:8)


Would this be the Church of Christ?

Is the argument such that (1) Musical Instruments in worship are not in the Bible (2) Therefore they ought not be used

Well, I think it would not be difficult to find objects and practices in any denomination’s worship that is not in the Bible. For starters church buildings are not in the Bible.

As a pianist I find this whole proposition, umm, funny.


Your uncle is somewhat correct. The church for a very long time disallowed all musical insturments in mass. Most of the Orthodox churches still hold to this. Then the pipe organ was created. Since the pipe organ was only for church, the Church said it was alright to use the pipe organ. The Church did not want to use the regular everyday instruments for liturgical use. They thought it improper to use secular instruments for the praise of God. So they allowed the pipe organ since again it was solely made for liturgical use. People stopped heeding this within the last half of a century or so. For further infromation see Musicae Sacrae by Pius XII.


For an intensely deep look at this issue, see and

They are from a non-Catholic site, so if anything seems fishy, ask.


that is a simplified version but essentially correct, and applicable only to Western Europe.
the organ, moreover, had stops such as vox populi, voice of the faithful, that approximated choir singing

the heyday of the organ and music written for it, however, flourished after the Reformation.

it is for the uncle in OP to provide scriptural sources for his claim, not for us to refute it.


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