Liturgy, Part 2: Unity and Music

The second in a series of papers on liturgical matters, Unity and Music: Five Hills to Die On addresses five specific areas of concern as our church tries to find its way, musically speaking. It starts out like this…

One of the worst things about Christians is our tendency to feel that because everything is a matter of principle, everything is equally important. Consequently, we often waste time and resources fighting over trivial things when there are really serious issues in play. Nowhere is this more true than in church music. I have, to my considerable shame, been a combatant in some really stupid arguments over Christian music, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. As we explore church music together and grow toward musical maturity as a church, we will have our share of arguments. That’s inevitable and healthy. My hope in this paper is to get the coming arguments started on the right foot, so that we don’t lose our sense of proportion.

To that end, here are five hills that I believe we should be prepared to die on. Most things in this discussion will be negotiable (even when we think they’re not), but these five things are core matters of biblical truth, and we should not be prepared to compromise them for any reason.

Hill #1: We Will Sing Psalms

The New Testament is abundantly clear that believers should sing psalms both individually and corporately, as part of worship. There is ample room for other music, too, but there is no room at all for not singing the psalms. This is simply a matter of obedience, and we must do it. There are 150 of them, and we should set as our long-term goal to learn them all. As a short-term goal, we should learn at least one of each of the different types of psalms: hymns of worship, enthronement psalms, communal lament, individual lament, and individual thanksgiving.

The paper goes on to consider the need to preserve unity through the process, how to conduct open and honest discussion, matters of musical taste, and the cultural baggage we bring to the process. Whole books have been written on less, but the goal in this case is not an exhaustive treatment, but to get the discussion moving in the right direction. You can read the rest here.

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