Question 2 (Why Worship with Music?)
A look into the history of worship through music and practical reasons for that partnership.
There are examples of music being used to worship God EVERYWHERE in the Bible. The first time may be in Exodus 15, when the Israelites sang to God right after they passed through the Red Sea. Psalms is the largest library of songs in the Bible; many chapters are, what we would call, worship songs written by David. The early church used songs too (Colossians 3:16 for example), and the disciples sang a hymn with Jesus at the end of the Last Supper (Mathew 26:30). All the biblical examples are where worshiping through music comes from. Whether via lyre, voices, or some other instrument, using music for God’s glory is not something we recently invented.
To clarify, singing about the Trinity is not the definition of worship. Music is one of the ways we worship God, and according to the Bible, God encourages us to use it.
“If worship songs aren’t the definition of worship,” some may ask, “then why do we call the person up there a worship leader? Doesn’t that make it sound like music is worship?”
Honestly, I don’t know. It’s a vague and somewhat misleading term to me. That’s why worship arts intern is the title of my position; that emphasizes that our songs Sunday morning are not the entirety of what worship is, but rather a creative part of worship.
Despite all the biblical references, musical worship can still be confusing. Many times we may wonder why music should be used. What’s the benefit of pairing music and worship together? As I searched for that why, I found two reasons music is often used.
For the most part, music is captivating. It catches someone’s attention even if they aren’t a musician and even if they don’t like the style. Because music is naturally intriguing, it is a ready vehicle to turn people’s focus to the lyrics—and thus to God—and keep their thoughts there.
Music, in a sense, doesn’t have a practical value in and of itself. As shown last week, we can worship through many activities; working, running errands, or getting together with friends. all these activities have an ‘agenda’ aside from worship; work must be done to earn money, friends are brought together for personal enjoyment and fellowship, etc. Unlike worshiping through other activities, worship through music doesn’t have another agenda. It doesn’t get the bills paid or the house clean. The SOLE purpose it is to look at God and proclaim His truths. There are no distractions that way. Instead of us thinking of God as a side thing (as we may be tempted to do as we worship through daily activities), God is clearly put in center stage.
Music and worship have gone hand in hand since Exodus. While it is not worship in and of itself, we are encouraged to worship in this way. Next week we’ll take a look at how we express our worship through music. Is it more than singing and the occasional hand raise?
Spoiler: it might be :).