The Music at Our Church
One of the duties Christians have in worship is to “address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19) These words indicate that the congregation is to sing, both to each other and to the Lord. This means that music will not be used in the same manner as it would in a performance. Church music is not a concert; rather it is a united act of worship.
The songs we are to sing are further described in three categories. The Psalms are of course those worship songs which we find in the Bible. Churches ought to sing the Psalms, and in doing so they will find that their expectation for all church music will be transformed. Other church music should imitate the themes and style of the Psalms. Christians may sing other hymns, which are songs of praise to God. Spiritual songs simply means those songs which, while not specifically designed as praise, address biblical topics.
We sing old hymns, many from the 18th century or before. We do not do this simply because those hymns are traditional. Rather, we find that the old Reformed hymns most closely conform to the pattern of the Psalms. Like the Psalms, these hymns promote an attitude of reverent joy in our worship. Like the Psalms, they are thought-provoking and we learn as we sing them. Like the Psalms, they cover a wide variety of spiritual topics while focusing on the saving work of God.
For many visitors our approach to music is the most noticeable difference in our church. Not only have we not embraced contemporary music, we tend to avoid what many think of as the “old hymns,” the gospel songs of the late 19th century. We want to make it clear that this is not because we despise all things new, but because we are searching for the highest possible Biblical content in our singing, and we find this in the tradition of Reformed hymn-writing.