(con't from Part II)
Music is a great gift of God, but, in spite of the famous quote by J.S. Bach (photo), there are organists today who are in denial that such a thing as the music ministry even exists -- mainly because they feel, wrongly, that the title "minister of music" is a non sequitur, that their organ playing before a congregation of believers regularly every week in the house of God is no different than performing before any other audience any other time at any other place and doesn't "minister" to anyone.
How mistaken they are ...
The fact is, "the Christian ministry" is a very broad agency not limited merely to the ministry of the Word or strictly determined by apostolic succession; the music ministry is only one of many ministries to which a Christian believer can devote his or her life's work.
When organists throughout history have devoted their time, talents, and composing to the ministry and the benefit of their fellow man, what exactly does this mean? ...
Simply put, the music ministry is that part of Christian praise and worship which employs, in compliance with directives found in the written Word of God, all of the wonder of music to unify believers and draw them closer to their Creator, strengthen individual faith, and ultimately help to edify the church [Gr. "ekklesia," meaning "called-out ones"] that Christ Jesus said He would build.
The importance of music in worship is one of the most powerful spiritual tools that shape the imaginative faculty of people and cannot be overstated; in a best case scenario the music chosen will describe in musical terms the chief message of the sermon -- that message and the congregation's reaction to it are tied together by the music, and it creates this happening to where, if the music wasn't there, people would miss it -- it adds this dimension.
Through the right kind of hymns and songs of praise people are able to sense life and God in an expanded way -- the minds of believers are enriched further in the knowledge of God and the wonders of the universe He created.
The familiar quote from Augustine -- "He who sings prays twice" -- further underlines music's ability to get the believer closer to God.
The biblical David mostly communicated with God through music, and the apostle Paul also highlighted the divine connection ability of music to edify congregations in his various apostolic missions.
There are several verses in the Holy Bible that attest to God's instructions to believers concerning music and show that the music ministry is profoundly biblical.
In Paul's letter to the Colossians (Col. 3:16), for example, he wrote, "Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
Something similar is shown in his letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 5:19) which says, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."
Matthew and Mark also record that on the night Jesus was betrayed, after supper had ended and He and His disciples had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:30, Mark 14:26) -- notice here that Jesus did not leave the upper room until, at His behest, they had all sung a hymn of praise to the heavenly Father.
These verses show unequivocally that God wants believers to sing and make music in His name.
Ultimately, the music ministry exists to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the promises inherent in it; music in praise helps to remind people of the sovereignty of God and all He's capable of doing; it brings to someone's remembrance that irrespective of what (s)he may be going through at any point in life, the faithfulness of God remains.
Listening to music renditions in the house of God here on earth is capable of filling people with the warmth and love they so desperately crave as human beings; worship, which is largely done through music, also has a unique way of unifying people irrespective of their tribes, races, and religious affiliations -- it draws worshipers together in a way that tends to get them in sync with one another as they all share a common purpose -- to offer thanks and praise to the Creator and Lord of all for the many blessings He grants to us.
The melodious sound of music in the house of God here on earth combined with sincere prayer and supplication can so harmonize and enrich everyone's heart with His own love and goodness that the meeting place, at that time and with His blessing, may humbly reflect that order and beauty which reign forever before His throne; people sense a feeling of unity when all focus turns to the Supreme Being in this way -- thus, music and church go hand-in-hand; one exists to glorify the activities of the other.
There is a great deal of theology and sound doctrine wrapped up in the words of some of the great hymns of faith of the Christian Church ... so much so that it can be argued that without the sounds of vocals or instruments signifying music's presence within it, the house of God here on earth would have a hard time fully serving its purposes.
Robert Morgan summed it up this way: "Except for the Bible, our hymnals provide the greatest treasure trove of theological and devotional material in existence anywhere." [See blog, Hymns, Part XII].
(con't in Part IV)