Part 6 of a series – Spiritual melody
When we think about church music, we usually think in terms of something that’s organised in advance and is played by a band of some kind. Often there’s a worship leader. Over the centuries church music has developed in parallel with the changes in secular music, some examples include Gregorian Plainsong, the chanting of psalms, hymns from hymnbooks accompanied by an organ, informal choruses in house meetings, and more recently bands playing in styles drawn from modern secular music and sometimes of excellent professional standard.
How does that compare with music in the early church? We do have some clues; for example, Paul writes about it briefly in Ephesians 5. In verse 18 he tells us
[Be] filled with the Spirit as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts.
So it seems likely that singing involves inspiration, literally singing as and when and how the Holy Spirit leads. And that would be the very opposite of what we usually find in church meetings where the music is led by a person and/or a band at the front and the congregation joins in. It is sometimes the case that people may, in the process, be caught up emotionally and, perhaps, spiritually. But this is never guaranteed and there’s limited freedom to initiate a new song, sing in the Spirit, or be fully free in praise and worship.
So what is Victor Choudhrie suggesting? Quite simply he is saying that when we meet, at home, in small groups, after sharing a meal, we should forget organised, planned in advance music with a band. Instead, as we pray and worship and teach one another, everyone present should be free to begin a song if they feel led by the Holy Spirit to do so. Not only that, they should feel free to sing in a tongue, or use their voice with no words at all, sing alone or together, pouring out their hearts to the Lord and to one another. As with everything else – complete freedom in music!
Who is it for? Why are we singing? I’m sure you already know the answer! It’s for the Father, Papa, Abba, Daddy, Yahweh, the Mighty One, Elohim – sing to him in praise and worship. And it’s for the Son, Jesus, Yeshua, Yahshua, the Messiah, Christ, our King, our Redeemer and our Rescuer – sing to him in praise and worship. And it’s for his Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, our Guide, our Cousellor and Advocate, the One who prompts us to sing – sing to him in praise and worship. Sing to the Three in One, the Everlasting Mystery! He is with us, and in us, and amongst us. How could we not sing?
Here’s what Victor Choudhrie has to say about it:
Replace professional music with believers speaking to each other in psalms and spiritual songs, making melody in their hearts to the Lord. OT worship required the sacrifice of four-footed beasts; the NT celebrates by offering two-legged Gentiles as a living sacrifice. The meta-church is a discipling hub and not a singing club. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Rom. 15:16
- How can we best give the Holy Spirit freedom in our singing?
- Is it helpful or unhelpful to restrict singing to a particular slot in a meeting?
- If our hearts are full of praise, are we more or less likely to sing?
- If we sing, are our hearts more or less likely to become full of praise?
- 15 ideas for worship without a band – Engage Worship
- Worship in small groups, your thoughts – Small Group Central