A Spiritual Ministry of Music Part III: Music for Worship, Evangelism, and Christian Education -- By: Donald P. Hustad

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 117:468 (Oct 1960)
Article: A Spiritual Ministry of Music Part III: Music for Worship, Evangelism, and Christian Education
Author: Donald P. Hustad


A Spiritual Ministry of Music
Part III:
Music for Worship, Evangelism, and Christian Education

Donald P. Hustad

[Editor’s Note: This article is the third installment of the W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures on the subject, “A Spiritual Ministry of Music,” given November 10–13, 1959, at the Dallas Theological Seminary, by Mr. Hustad.]

It is difficult to separate the three principal activities of the local church mentioned in our subject. But, for all practical purposes, we usually concentrate on them one at a time. In one service we provide an opportunity for corporate Christian worship. At another time we give special emphasis to evangelism. And on other occasions our principal desire is the training of believers. For this reason we will address ourselves, not necessarily in order of importance, to music for worship, music for evangelism, and music in Christian education.

The Christian world is today in the midst of a revival of liturgism. Most liturgical churches are becoming increasingly interested in their heritage, with constant research in the historic practice of their worship.

Traditionally nonliturgical churches are today showing great interest in worship form. We notice particularly the use of the symbols and trappings of liturgical practice. It began with the divided chancel, and now includes the use of candles and crosses, robes with colored stoles to indicate the season of the church year, and even acolytes.

We should not presume that evangelicalism has remained aloof from this trend. A hundred years ago the seasons of Christmas and Easter would have received only scant attention from our pastors. Today, our church bulletins denote the arrival of Advent, and even Lent. Our church buildings today boast stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings, robed choirs, and carved woodwork. Thirty years ago these same fellowships would have felt that a plain structure with little decoration was more expressive of their philosophy of worship and their conscience in spending the Lord’s money.

This is not meant to be a condemnation of liturgies or of beauty in God’s house. Symbolism and beauty can do

much to provide a proper setting for the experience of worship. But we seem to be adding the appurtenances of worship for their own sake—simply because money is available and it seems to be the thing to do. While condemning others for “vain repetition,” we should remind ourselves that it is easy to enjoy the beauty of a vaulted cathedral, the quiet of a dim sanctuary, the thrill of glorious art and music, and the worthy poetry of fine hymns—and to mistake this aesthetic experience fo...

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