Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! – Psalm 100:1-2 (ESV)
I read on my Facebook newsfeed the other day that one of my favorite Christian recording artists Michael W. Smith has released another Worship and Praise album. So I clicked on the link to find out more information about this album and what songs were on it. I saw that there were a lot of comments below the ad for the album, so being curious in nature I started reading some of those comments and that was probably a mistake on my part. See most of the comments were against praise and worship music in a church with a lot of them saying that they didn’t want to go to a “rock concert” when they went to church or that a church should be a quiet and reverent place to go to. There were other comments (and some arguments) on there that ranged from Praise and Worship music in the church being a good thing to flat out hatred saying that it had no place at all in the church.
Before I go any further allow me to tell you a little about my background. I was born into a Christian home and I accepted Christ at an early age and have allowed Him to live in my heart and to change me over the years. I started singing in the different choirs that our church had and even started playing English Handbells when I was 7. All through my childhood and high school years I have sung in the choir and played bells at whatever church I attended. I have played bells and sung for more than 43 consecutive years before I was forced to retire from it for physical reasons. My wife played piano for the choir at every church she ever attended starting at about 10 years of age when she lived in Taiwan, then Thailand and even after when she moved to the States. She and I combined have both played and sung all types of music for the churches we have attended from traditional hymns to contemporary praise and worship music. My point is just to let you know that I have been on both sides of this issue.
Throughout the Old Testament worshiping God with songs of praise using instruments such as trumpets, cymbals, lyres, and harps is mentioned over and over again. These were all used in the context of a joyful celebration. The word “hymn” appears mostly in the New Testament but it is also in the context of a song of praise. Even the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word hymn as “a song of praise to God” and “a metrical composition adapted for singing in a religious service”.
One thing I have noticed in my research on this subject is this; nowhere in the Bible does it actually define what style of music a Hymn or a Praise and Worship song is. From what I am able to understand the two words can be used interchangeably. Personally I don’t think God cares if you are a good singer or can’t even sing at all. Nor do I think He cares if our songs of Worship are peaceful hymns sung in beautiful 4 part harmony or if the singing is lead by electric guitars and drums being played so loud that you can’t hear yourself. I truly and firmly believe that He cares more about where your heart is when you are singing these songs. Are you singing to Him? Or so that everyone else can hear you? Being a retired performer I have to check and ask myself that question all the time. If you are more worried that the music is so loud that you can’t hear yourself or that only a certain style of music should be played in the church, then I would suggest that you might not be focusing on Him and focusing more on the traditions and habits that you grew up with. Change your focus and worship Him with your whole heart no matter what type of music is being played. –E.C.