Topic(s): Worship

Todd Clippard

It is sometimes jokingly said the difference between a pitch pipe and a piano is that the pitch pipe knows when to be quiet. In all seriousness, the difference between them is real and substantial.

Singing is a form of music. Playing an instrument is a different form of music. Singing with instrumental accompaniment is yet a different form of music. The command to sing is not the equivalent to the command to play an instrument, neither is the command to sing the equivalent to the command to sing and play an instrument.

The command to sing is the only command we have in the New Testament in reference to music in worship. Had God simply commanded the church to “make music,” then we would have been at liberty to do anything that qualifies as such, including any and all of the three examples previously given.

But God did not give the general command to make music; He commanded the church to sing. Every command and example found concerning the music of the early church is singing. Therefore, anything that differs from that command is done without the authority of Christ (Colossians 3:17), and transgresses the command of God (1 John 3:4).

There is no command or example of the early church using instrumental music in worship. In fact, there is not the slightest hint the church ever used instrumental music in its worship. This is why the Latin phrase a cappella, which refers to singing without the accompaniment of an instrument, means “in the style of the church.”

In fact, all of the early history of the church reveals that the church never used instrumental music in worship until the Catholics introduced it over 500 years after the establishment of the church. The introduction of the instrument was a source of great controversy and eventual division among those professing to be worshippers of Christ.

In fact, every major denomination of the Reformation Movement was founded by men who despised the use of instrumental music in worship, including John Calvin, John Wesley, Martin Luther, and others. The views of these men and others like them can be seen at http://www.housetohouse.com/hth/biblequestions/archive/question0002.htm.

Answers to similar questions can be seen at: http://www.housetohouse.com/hth/topic/worship.htm

When one blows a pitch pipe, it is not done in worship to God. It is simply an aid to carry out the command to sing, and in no way changes the carrying out of the command. Song books and microphone are additional aids which do not change the nature of obeying the command of God.

Because singing and playing are coordinate terms (each one distinct from the other), adding an instrument changes the nature of the command to sing.

Please refer to the other articles on our website for more information concerning instrumental music.

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