Some Facts About Instrumental Music
We are sometimes asked, “Why don’t you use instrumental music in your worship?” This is a good question and deserves an answer. The reason is not that instrumental music is considered sinful per se. We do not use instruments to accompany our singing in worship to God because of the following:
- It is not authorized in the New Testament, by either command or approved apostolic example. In every instance in which worship to God involving music is mentioned in the New Testament, vocal music (singing) is specified.
- History records that it was not used by the early church for hundreds of years.
“The absence of instrumental music from the church for some centuries after the apostles and the sentiment regarding it which pervades the writings of the fathers are unaccountable, if in the apostolic church such music was used.” (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 3, pp. 1961,1702.)
“Music in churches is as ancient as the apostles, but instrumental music not so . . . In the Western parts, the instrument was not so much as known till the eighth century.” (Works, Joseph Bingham, vol. 2, p. 482.)
“The organ is said to have been introduced into church music by Pope Vitalian in 666 A.D.” (Chambers Encyclopedia, vol. 7, p. 112.)
This history becomes even more significant, when we remember that instruments had been in existence for centuries and were employed by Jews (and pagans) in their worship.
In addition to the above, many who use instrumental music today would be surprised to learn that:
- Instrumental music in worship has been opposed by many well-known protestant religious leaders.
“I have no objection to the organ in our chapels, provided it is neither seen nor heard.” (John Wesley)
“Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of other shadows of the law.” (John Calvin)
“I would as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery.” (Charles Spurgeon)
“I have never known instrumental music to be productive of any good in the worship of God.” (Adam Clark)
- When instrumental music was introduced into most protestant denominations in the latter half of the 19th century it was strongly opposed and created considerable controversy. This actually reflected the condemnation of instrumental music, which had prevailed in the Reformation Movement for many years.