St. Chrysostom on Church Music

The New Testament Church did not use instruments in their worship until well into the Middle Ages. Western culture began to use the organ in the year 666 A.D. (funny date). Its popularity gained momentum over the centuries, and after the split from the East it became the norm in the western churches.

Why did the early church not use instruments? Because we are to become natural instruments of God for worship. God says in Hebrews 13:15 that it is the “fruit of our lips” that He wishes to hear. So, yes, it is not always ideal to use instruments in worship. The society of the ancient Church was just as passionate about musical instruments as our society; drama as well! They resisted the temptation to commit what God calls syncretism, the polluting of the sacred. Here is what one of the greatest pastors to ever live has to say about this subject:

“David formerly sang songs, also today we sing hymns. He had a lyre with lifeless strings, the church has a lyre with living strings. Our tongues are the strings of the lyre with a different tone indeed but much more in accordance with piety. Here there is no need for the cithara, or for stretched strings, or for the plectrum, or for art, or for any instrument; but, if you like, you may yourself become a cithara, mortifying the members of the flesh and making a full harmony of mind and body. For when the flesh no longer lusts against the Spirit, but has submitted to its orders and has been led at length into the best and most admirable path, then will you create a spiritual melody.” (Chrysostom, 347-407, Exposition of Psalms 41, (381-398 A.D.)

Comments

  1. That is a very interesting article. I always thought in interesting that Jubal, a descendant of Cain, “was the father of them that play upon the harp and the organs.” (Gen. 4:21) Not that I think musical instruments are inherently evil.

  2. sorry for the typo, “…thought it interesting…”.

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