Instrumental Music

I recently attended two funerals. One was with our brethren, the other was with the Christian church — folks who were our brethren until the 1890s, when division over instrumental music.  The main difference in the funerals was the type and character of the music. (There were other differences as well, such as the coffee bar and fellowship hall in the one of the buildings.)

At one funeral, the mourners to joined in the singing of hymns of praise to God and comfort for one another; at the other, the mourners sat back and listened to pre-recorded hymns sung to them by professional singers, played back over very high quality speakers. As far as the “quality” of the music in regard to pitch and polished performance, the professional recording would surely win. But that isn’t why we sing. 

In the acappella hymns, the mourners and worshipers were able participate in the songs of praise and comfort. We were able to actively take part in the service, not passively observe. I found one satisfying to the soul, and the other lacking entirely.  I realize the God’s will on the subject is not established by what I find satisfying, and others accustomed to the instrument might find music without it lacking, but the repeated admonitions to sing in the New Testament and lack of any instruction to play, seem vindicated to me through experiencing them both. 

Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist pastor and leader of what was really the first mega-church, said this, 140 years: “The congregation…has no organ ‘to assist’ them in singing their praises to their God and Savior. Their tongues and voices express the gratitude of their hearts…I would just as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery.”