Index by Subject

A Capella Singing

In the July 3, 2010 issue of The Christian Chronicle, coverage was given to a recent “international symposium of sacred a cappella music, involv[-ing] members of Churches of Christ as well as Mennonites, Eastern Orthodox, Reformed Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Roman Catholics.”

The symposium was a sequel to a previous effort which took place in 2007.  Concerning that event, the article notes “‘The Ascending Voice’ debuted at Pepperdine in 2007 — the brainchild of [Darryl] Tippens, who saw it as a way to celebrate and promote a cappella worship in a world of praise bands and recorded music.”

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One of the most edifying acts of worship authorized by the Lord for Christians is “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

There is something about poetry set to a pleasant melody which uplifts men.  This fact was recognized by James when he wrote, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).  We are indeed blessed that God instructs us to edify and uplift one another as we praise Him in song.

It may be noted that the text mentioned above, (Ephesians 5:19), establishes some parameters which must be followed as we sing in worship.  For example, we see that the songs we are to sing are to be “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” In Christian worship, our singing must be limited to songs which fit into these categories.  Fortunately, there are many songs that conform to God’s standards.

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Contending for the Faith: Instrument VS Non-Instrument

(The article below with the title above was sent to me with the request that I review it. I have done so in segments, interspersing my remarks with his. Mr. Mattingly’s comments appear in italics.)

Gary Mattingly – Christian Church preacher

    First and foremost, we must see that there is a fundamental difference in the hermeneutics (This is the interpretation of Scripture) between the two groups. The non-instrumental brethren see the ‘silence of the Scripture’ to be a prohibition. If the scriptures do not have a "thus saith the Lord" on a subject, then, to this group, we must not do it. They feel that the New Testament says nothing about instruments, therefore, they should be refused in worship.

    We, within the Christian Church/Church of Christ, use a hermeneutic that says for the most part, if there is silence in Scripture, we can use liberty on the subject. If the Scripture does not say ‘thou shalt use an instrument in worship’, we find this a liberty. We can use it or not use it. This is the underlying cause for our differences today in the instrumental issue. You must see this clearly before you can talk about this further. This is a must to see!

Silence Of The Scriptures A Prohibition?

First, before we begin, let it be noted that Gary Mattingly has admitted that he can find no scriptural authority for mechanical instruments of music in worship. If he had such authority, he could not argue has he has done in this treatise. If the premises of his reasoning in this essay are true, instrumental music cannot be justified by any reference to Scripture. Forevermore, he has cut himself off from every appeal to the Bible to justify their use. He cannot cite the Old Testament. He cannot reason that the scriptural terms, "sing," "psalms," or "make melody," include the instrument in their meaning. No, he can never make such arguments, for he here contends that the use of such instruments is without a "’thus saith the Lord’."

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The Simple Gospel: A Capella

You can ask almost anyone what the definition of “a capella” is and they will say something like, “Oh, that just means to sing without using instrumental assistance.” And while that is correct, very few people know that “a capella” is a Latin phrase which actually uses different words than we think when translated. Literally translated, “a capella” means “as in church.” It is a term that comes down through history and into our language from the Catholic Church. The term was used to differentiate the kind of proper music that was used in Catholic worship for many centuries from all other types of music which had little to do with worship and mostly to do with entertainment. So we see that “a capella” was the use of the voice as the only appropriate music for worship in early Catholic history.

Did you know that although there are some references to the introduction of organs or harps, etc. as early as the 7th Century in Catholic historical documents here and there, it was rare and was so innovative as to be considered as heretical for nearly a thousand years after this? One fairly early, highly quoted and well known Catholic writer, Thomas Aquinas wrote in the 13th Century, “Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize” (Bingham’s Antiquities, Vol. 3, page 137). Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: A Capella