“This is music out loud” by Douglas Wilson

“In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul requires musical instrumentation in worship. He says there that we are to be ‘speaking to [one another] in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in [our] heart to the Lord’ (Eph. 5:19). The translation in the heart would better be rendered as with the heart. We would say ‘singing and making melody with all our hearts.’

This is not an arbitrary choice; we can tell this contextually. The short phrase ‘making melody’ is a rendition of a word that means to pluck a string–psallo. Going over a song in our hearts is something we have all done. Singing silently can be done–even though it is frustrating, and is always looking for an outlet.

But very few of us have played the oboe in our hearts, or played a trumpet or piano there. Doing that kind of thing is way too close to playing air guitar. Telling the Ephesians to play the violin in their hearts would be a little bit odd. So Paul tells the Ephesians to sing and play stringed instruments–just the kind of thing that the psalmist would exhort Israel and all the nations to do.

This is music out loud. But the driving force of the exhortation reveals the motive for instruments, and the motive for robust singing. We are told to sing with all our hearts. This kind of heart attitude looks around for ways to make it better, richer, louder. The same kind of thing comes out in Colossians.

As the word dwells in us richly, the music should come out richly. A rich interior life cannot result in a poverty-stricken musical expression. We are here to worship God. We have music before us that is designed to help us with this. We should stand on the balls of our feet, eager to express in song what we believe God has done for us. After all, He is worthy.”

–Douglas Wilson, “Instruments in Worship,” (accessed on 9/17/2009).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Douglas Wilson, Music, Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Quotable Quotes, The Church, Worship

Leave a Reply