A New Testament View of the Ministry of Music -- By: Milo Thompson

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 03:2 (Fall 1999)
Article: A New Testament View of the Ministry of Music
Author: Milo Thompson


A New Testament View of the
Ministry of Music

Milo Thompson

President, Baptist Bible College And Seminary
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Isaac Watts was still in his teens when he became dissatisfied with the deplorable songs being sung in the churches of England. One Sunday after he came home critical of the congregational singing, Isaac’s father challenged him with these words, “Well then, young man, why don’t you give us something better to sing?” Isaac Watts, then eighteen years old, accepted his father’s challenge. The next Sunday he produced his first hymn and the congregational response was enthusiastic. For the next two years, young Watts wrote a new hymn text for his people every Sunday. He published a collection of 210 of these hymns in 1707 in a book entitled Hymns and Spiritual Songs. In all, Isaac Watts wrote approximately 600 hymns during his lifetime. In churches throughout the world, Christians enjoy singing songs by Watts such as “O God, Our Help In Ages Past,” “Joy To The World,” “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross,” “At The Cross,” “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed?” “Am I A Soldier Of The Cross?” and “We’re Marching To Zion.” No wonder Isaac Watts has rightly been called the “Father of English Hymnody.”

Watts realized the need for Christians to sing new songs of praise and worship to God. The New Testament states that one evidence of being filled with the Spirit is that Christians will speak to one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19). The New Testament gives us insights into developing biblically balanced worship. From the New Testament we discover several important purposes for singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

This article is the second in a series on the ministry of music in the Scriptures. The previous article in the Spring 1999 Journal was on an Old Testament view of the ministry of music. The final article will provide biblical guidelines for evaluating music.

Christian Music Witnesses To The Lost

The apostle Paul and Silas were illegally arrested in Philippi. They were beaten and thrown into the inner prison. Their feet were fastened in the stocks. “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25).

Apparently, some of these early believers after Christ Jesus’ resurrection had set His words and works to music, and this allowed Paul and Silas to sing spiritual “song...

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