Music in the New Testament Church

9. The ministry of the singer

“Singing” in the church is an act of worship and also an important ministry. It has a far greater purpose than making a pleasant sound to help the congregation to ” get in to the proper attitude” or some such intent.

All music, in and out of the church teaches and admonishes something. For this reason the lyrics and music of the church must be carefully chosen so that no hint of that which is unholy creeps into the worship of the Most High.

Balance in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs

(Eph 5:19 NIV) Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,

These three realms of singing are the heritage of the church and a balance is always to be sought after within the music of the worshiping church. So it is that the singer should be acquainted with, and be practiced in, all three of these forms and thus be able to lead the saints in such worship and praise. There is a danger with singing that those who are to guide the music in the church are led to conformity with the idea of the world concerning the latest “hit” song and “popular ” trends. To always follow after the latest song, and there are many more than we can comfortably use, leads to a lack of balance and a beginning of a “that sounds good” mentality.

Lack of balance often shows itself in the local church as a “sameness” in the sound of worship in the particular church. Some can sound overly sombre and religious, some over weighted with beautiful choir sounds and little congregation singing, others pick up a sound which is a reflection of a generally accepted tradition of the music leaders, or there is a strong and heavy bias towards beat and loudness. In most cases, observed over several meetings, the sameness comes through, quenching the freedom of the Holy Spirit in spite of the often-sincere desire of those taking part to please God and worship Him.

To present or choose a song for worship is a grave and holy act. To seek the Holy Spirit to guide you in this selection is imperative and to know and understand the Scriptural teaching concerning singing and apply it essential, in order that we come into His presence in Spirit (guided by the Spirit) and in Truth (according to the Word).

The Psalms that have come down to us from the very early writings, and hymns which have graced the worship of the church through the ages, all have a place in worship. As do the spiritual songs given to the church, in many cases by

spontaneous outpouring of an anointed song or perhaps by some inspired writer who in a moment of joyful praise commits the song to record for the church.

Spontaneous song in the Spirit is not the exclusive ministry of the singer for all the saints may sing in this way and so share a new song that He has placed in the heart as a blessing to all. With such song there is an ever-present responsibility that all that is sung conforms to Scriptural standards for as the song comes forth we are taught and admonished.

Those called to be “singers” have a special anointing and are to be alert to lead the saints in times of spiritual battle with a rallying cry of spiritual song. Prophesy in song is often given to singers in the midst of His people and a song of praise and worship can lift the saints to enter into His presence with joy.

Choirs as leaders of song

(1 Chr 15:16 NIV) David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. (1 Chr 15:27 NIV) Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod.

In the Tabernacle of David there were singers and musicians who were set aside for this ministry and a distinct charge was laid upon them for this service. As well as this function of raising praise and worship before the Lord. Jehoshaphat found reason to use the singers in time of war. Their ministry had a significant effect upon the enemy. Notice particularly that the singers were dressed in fine linen, a garment that points to the importance of the ministry.

(2 Chr 20:21-22 NIV) After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” [22] As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

In the same way the choirs and song groups of today are able to lead the people into the gates of praise and give support to spiritual warfare as God moves in the praises of His people. When a need for deliverance is present the singers are the ones who go before; and so the army of God moves to victory.

Singers and restoration

In these days of restoration, as it was of old, the singers are of particular importance. Long ago when the people were building the walls of Jerusalem singers were appointed to sing. This ministry of song was vital to them, who were building that which had been broken down. The singer were given their portion as well as the workmen

(Neh 11:23 NRSV) For there was a command from the king concerning them, and a settled provision for the singers, as was required every day.

The singers kept the word of their God and so were appointed their portion of wine and oil with the Levites.

Neh 12:45 NRSV) They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did the singers and the gatekeepers, according to the command of David and his son Solomon.
(Neh 13:5 NRSV) prepared for Tobiah a large room where they had previously put the grain offering, the frankincense, the vessels, and the tithes of grain, wine, and oil, which were given by commandment to the Levites, singers, and gatekeepers,

Those who have a ministry in music need to have the same anointing upon them as the congregation expects to be on those who minister in the Word and other spiritual gifts and ministries. Music is not just a “job” to be done but a high calling and a great responsibility.