IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 4, Number 5, February 4 to February 10, 2002

Music Matters
Show 14

by Robert Barnes

Good Day! This is Music Matters, and I'm Robert Barnes.

I promised to get us into a question of usage — how can we use various types of music, be they classical, folk, or contemporary, in a Sabbath service of worship. This discussion is an extension of my belief that the best kind of worship in the local church can be qualified as being God-centered, biblical, and relevant. The specific question we are addressing now is what kinds of music we can use in our worship service without being worldly on one hand, irrelevant on the other, or just plain silly.

John Piper says, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him, and we are most satisfied with him in worship." So whenever we are talking about picking music that matches or compliments the particular worship components of Word, Sacrament, Law and Gospel, Giving and Receiving Blessing, I am not saying that this process can be separated from God-centered Christianity.

The second point to remember is that picking music to accompany lyrics or worship components is done with an audience of ONE: God. God is the audience and we, the congregation, are the performers. The music I pick is not to entertain the congregation. It is so they can be better performers for God and have a more appropriate emotional response to the truths of God. If this means I need to take a contemporary approach to O Sacred Head Now Wounded, or a folk arrangement of What a Mighty God We Serve, then so be it. As Brian Edwards said, "True worship is not seen in the ingredients of the service, but in the inclination of the heart."

The third point that undergirds the music you may use in a worship service is that music is a tool to shape the emotions. True worship is a blend of godly fear with trembling joy that we are accepted in the Beloved. True worship is a matter of the heart's disposition towards God. Stephen Charnock said, "Without the heart there is no worship. It is a stage play. It is acting a part without being that person. It is playing the hypocrite." Thus, the music I pick has to do with guiding the emotions of the congregation (of which I am one member) into a holy, appropriate place that matches the tenor of the worship service as a whole, and the particular worship component we are addressing.

Do you ever think about your emotions towards God? Read the Psalms, and see how often the writer exhorts the reader to feel a certain way about God and His truths. Good worship music artfully directs the congregation to feel certain things about God and the truths presented in the lyrics.

What do you feel about God? Do you wonder why you don't have any feelings towards God? Perhaps you should make music matter more in your life, and allow music to stir up feelings of love and respect and fear that God deserves. My name is Robert Barnes, and this has been Music Matters.