What Kind of Music Does God Like? -- By: Jay Swisher

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 13:2 (Winter 2004)
Article: What Kind of Music Does God Like?
Author: Jay Swisher

What Kind of Music Does God Like?

Jay Swishera


The Importance of Music

According to the Bible, music matters. The Old Testament books of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah demonstrate the important role music played. The ancient Hebrews used music at all sorts of events, both religious and national (1 Chr. 15:27, 28; 2 Chr. 29:25–28; 35:15; Neh. 12:27–43). Musicians held a position of status as priests; they were exempt from work other than music and from paying taxes, and they received support from the people (1 Chr. 9:33; Ezra 7:24; Neh. 10:39). The book of Psalms was ancient Israel’s hymnbook, filled with songs of praise, joy, sadness, fear, prayer, trust, love, doctrine, and other subjects and emotions.

The role of music in the New Testament is less well documented, but there are important hints scattered through its pages. We know Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn before leaving the upper room to go to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:30). Twice the apostle Paul exhorted believers to speak to one another and sing with “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19: Col. 3:16). The precise meanings of these three terms are not exactly clear, since the definitions found in lexicons indicate significant overlap. What is important is that there was music. A cheerful believer is to sing songs of praise (James 5:13). Paul and Silas in prison demonstrated that they understood this, as they sang songs of praise to God in the hearing of the other prisoners (Acts 16:25). Scholars maintain that a few passages in the New Testament are fragments of ancient Christian hymns (Phil. 2:6–11; 2 Tim. 2:11–13).

Music continues to be an important part of the church today. We sing and play music at nearly every meeting of the local church. We continue to follow a great tradition that began millennia ago. We believe our music pleases God. The quality of our singing often matters little to us; what matters more is ...

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