Why acapella?

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by peter_piper, Apr 4, 2012.

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  1. peter_piper

    peter_piper Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey all,

    This may have been answered in another thread...I'm not sure.:confused:
    Anyways, I understand the basis for exclusive singing of psalms, but why acapella?
    I've heard some people argue that instruments lead to emotionalism but I believe that's a weak argument, as some are stirred emotionally by listening to choirs and such.
    Just thought I'd ask. I personally don't see why acapella, as one can argue that our voice is an instrument and/or that God gave us musical instruments...why not use them...but am open to an explanation and discussion.

    Thanks everyone!:D
  2. N. Eshelman

    N. Eshelman Puritan Board Senior

    Because Jesus is better than the things that have faded away. (That's the whole book of Hebrews)

    Instrumentation is tied to the Levitical priesthood and the offering. It is as gone as incense and the whole of the sacrificial system. Jesus is better than Aaron and his lineage.
  3. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Hi Peter. My mom is from PEI and I grew up in Nova Scotia. Very nice to have you on the Puritan Board.

    The above posts are theologically correct. I agree with them.

    Have you perhaps come in contact with any of the Free Church of Scotland folks who are in PEI? I understand that they would practice a capella singing in their worship.

    ---------- Post added at 03:23 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:20 PM ----------

    Oh, I see from your profile that you are already well acquainted with the Free Church.
  4. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Because in the Old Testament Temple worship they needed a fancy building in order to worship God with earthly visual glory, and they needed musical instruments to worship God with earthly aural glory.

    In the New Covenant we don't need this. In fact the more of this there is, the more there is distraction from, and obscuration of, true glory of New Testament worship. But we need Scripturality, simplicity and spirituality.

    The Apostle doesn't mention anything about fancy buildings or fancy - or any - instruments.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  5. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    So is it WRONG then to worship God with musical accompaniment? I hear the argument "because we don't need it", but is using instruments a violation of scripture and thus meeting with the disproval of God? I hope that's not what is being said here.
  6. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    I'll try not to be offended that you think my worship is an offense to God.
    Let me ask a sincere and honest question. (I genuinely want to understand this unfamiliar view better). If it is exclusive Psalm singing, and A Capella exclusively, then how do you reconcile singing a Psalm like the 150th, and many others, A Cappella ONLY while singing the words:

    "Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
    Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
    Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!"
  7. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Puritan Board Sophomore

    I believe a strict and consistent application of the regulative principle of worship, on the balance of the biblical evidence, would require that the church omit instruments from New Covenant worship. In addition to the above answers and in relation to your questions here, I would assert that since musical instruments were elements under Old Covenant Worship (post-David at least), it would be exceptionally unwise to re-introduce them even as circumstances in New Covenant worship. To do so leaves the church very open to almost any abuse; specifically, on what basis could we prohibit the reintroduction of sacrifices, incense etc. if it was being proposed that we do so only circumstantially?

    Therefore not only are instruments not needed, neither are they warranted as elements in NC worship, and it would be unwise to introduce them as circumstances, in addition Christ himself teaches us in John 4 that all the arrangements of temple worship are abrogated, New Covenant worship is to be markedly spiritual.
  8. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    There are many Psalms that have sacrificial language which we recognize was fulfilled by Christ. So the answer would be the same, it speaks of things that were present in the Old Testament economy that have now been fulfilled.
  9. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Puritan Board Sophomore

    The same way as I (and you) must reconcile some of Psalm 150 and Psalm 149

    Psalm 150:1-3 Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! 2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! 3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp!

    When was the last time you or I praised God among the stars in the firmament? We all I trust praise him in the sanctuary, must we do so in the heavens, in space, now?

    Psalm 149:3-6 3 Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. 4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. 5 Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. 6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand,

    Why do modern Christians in general have such scruples about wielding the two-edged sword in praise of God, yet none about timbrels and harps?

    How we reconcile all this is a major discussion, I merely point our that we must all do so, not just those of us who reject the need for instrumentation.
  10. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    Thankyou for your responses. I do have some objections to some of your statements, but since you state that it's superfluous, I guess that's thread closed then? I'll refrain from saying any more. Thanks again for taking the time to make your point. I appreciate your response. Very interesting.
  11. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    Brother Joshua,
    Thankyou for your kindness in clearing that up. I did feel a little cornered. I will still however refrain from the debate, for the sake of our brotherly unity, and do more private and diligent study on the issue, as you have suggested. We both seem to be completely convinced in our own minds on the issue. And, as I'm sure you can agree, we both desire to worship God in a way that would be pleasing to Him. May both our hearts be open before the Lord in our worship and pleasing to Him as we, with confidence, draw near to the throne of grace.
    (even if one of us does so with an instrument in his hand)

    Oh, and thankyou too, brother Paul for taking the time to explain in such detail. While I find some of your points intriguing, and while I would agree that we are not at total liberty to worship God in any-old-way we want to (but to be careful to worship Him as He has made it clear how He is to be worshipped) I must say that suggesting singing to God with the AID of a musical instrument (organ or guitar or otherwise) leaves the church open to re-implement sacrifices is a bit of a silly stretch. But, you are a much more learned man than I am and I must give honor where honor is due.
    Please forgive me if I have misunderstood your position in any way.
    Bless you brothers.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  12. Moireach

    Moireach Puritan Board Freshman

    It all boils down to the application of the regulative principle. Some of the brothers here have shown why we believe the Old Testament's mandate for the use of Instruments in worship has passed away, and I believe that that is pretty clear.

    So one must find a New Testament verse to mandate their use in worship. It is striking how different worship as described in the New Testament is, it is pure simplicity. Eight times worshipful singing is mentioned, and every time it is singing alone, and the shift from OT to NT is shown in phrases like "with the strings of the heart".

    The gist of the Regulative Principle is that we aren't at will to introduce "aids" into our worship. We need a direct command. You can just imagine the mayhem if the power to introduce "aids" was given to sin-sick man.

    In fact you don't have to imagine, there are churches all over the place who believe they have that authority and the consequences are there to be seen.
  13. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    One final question, sorry. This one just came to me;

    So no one with this position listens to any music?

    If you take this to it's logical conclusion; instruments are evil.
    Let's back up. We would all agree that anything (music or otherwise) made or done not to the glory of God is vanity.
    For example, for the sake of our context, the world's music.
    But then you are still saying that music made to the glory of God (worship music, hymns) using singing melodies, the moment the use of instruments is implemented it is automatically disqualified. It is violating scripture, thus sinful, and is rejected by God.
    That's quite a bold claim to make.

    "Consequences"? Brother, there are dear saints, people who love God, who show that love and express their gratitude and joy towards God by using their talents by making music to the glory of God and the edification of many saints. Using your position to say that their worship is rejected by God is, in my opinion, dangerously unwise.

    ALL OF OUR worship is a stench to God without Christ. All of our efforts are sin-stained, instruments or a capella. It is Christ who enables us to come to God. Not because of an instrument, and not because we don't have an instrument.
    I must contest that a brother, blood bought, with the living Spirit of Christ within his regenerate and PURE HEART, who comes to God in praise is NOT rejected on account that he does so because he does it while playing a piano.

    While I admire and applaud your desire to worship God with a pure heart, and duly respect your conviction to do so A Capella, I would never suggest to you that your offerings to God were rejected by Him.
  14. Scottish Lass

    Scottish Lass Puritan Board Doctor

    Surely we can agree that are "consequences" outside of the issue of music. Are clown-led sermons and drama teams okay? Why? Either the line is subjective or it is objective.

    I do lots of things outside of worship that I do not do in worship. To suggest that we automatically think instruments are evil all the time is to mischaracterize what many of us believe.
  15. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you Anna.
    When is the use of musical instruments ok, in your opinion.
    We are instructed by scripture to do everything we do to the glory of God. So when making music on an instrument, unless doing it to the glory of God, is it not vain? But then to make music to the glory of God is an unacceptable form of worship (to my understanding)
    Forgive me if I am misunderstanding this position, but try to understand I am trying very hard here to get it.
    So when is the "use of a musical instrument" ok?

    ---------- Post added at 10:27 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:26 AM ----------

    I hope you, or someone else, can read and understand what I am genuinely trying to ask in my previous comment)
  16. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I think you are confusing a part for the whole. For example, in worship my heart contains a mixture of good motives (wrought by the Spirit of God) and bad motives. God rejects my bad motives (overlooking them for Christ's sake) and accepts the good ones, again for Christ's sake. Why shouldn't the same principle apply externally? Suppose a church sings a psalm with a piano during worship. Are you suggesting that because I am opposed to the use of the piano (because God has not commanded it anywhere in Scripture) that I must reject the psalm-singing as having any value in God's sight? If so, why?
  17. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    I never suggested that at all brother. I raised the exact same question above:

    And the answer, or, implied opinion came from your camp:

    ---------- Post added at 10:43 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:40 AM ----------

    If you read my posts, it's for this very same question you ask that I am trying to get answers for.
  18. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    If I'm understanding you correctly, perhaps I can shed some light on this matter. It would seem that you may be assuming that "all of life is worship" as is commonly taught today. While this statement may be true in the very broad sense that we should live all of life to God's glory, the historic Reformed position recognizes that there is such a thing as "religious worship," which is regulated in a different way than other daily activities (see WCF XXI). This worship has particular elements instituted by God as part of the covenantal dialogue between the Lord and His covenant people. Thus, the use of instruments is only prohibited within the realm of religious worship.
  19. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, yes, the use of instruments in worship is a violation of Scripture and God disapproves of it (and you are speaking, by the way, to a former church musician -- actually two, since Joshua is also a former church musician). But why should that make the entire worship of no value just because we reject one part of it? You are suggesting that we think a church using instruments cannot praise God at all. That is not our position.
  20. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    We are SLOWLY getting to where I am trying to get. Thank you for your replies. So making music on instruments ASIDE from worship is ok? Then why do it? I honestly get no enjoyment out of listening to anything that is not spiritual in tone. But the implied position here seems to state that this is unacceptable. But enjoying something, ie. music, A PART FROM God is ok?
    Sorry, if I still don't get it.

    ---------- Post added at 10:48 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:47 AM ----------

    This is really contradictory
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  21. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Not at all. God disapproves of all sorts of things I do in worship. He disapproves of the fact that sometimes I get distracted while I'm singing and don't pay attention to the words. If he didn't accept my praise (because of Christ) in spite of these things, I couldn't worship at all.
  22. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior


    First of all, you will find some variance in those who believe in acapella exclusive psalmody. Let me explain. There are two main strains of thought:

    1) Those who believe that any "Christian" music, regardless of the location, time, or occasion is regulated and should only be acapella exclusive psalmody. Therefore, contemporary Christian music, or hymns would not be allowed.

    2) Those who believe that the regulation for acapella exclusive psalmody is limited to the worship service and therefore hymns or contemporary songs with instruments would be acceptable during times that are not worship services, such as listening to music in the car or at home.

    As far as I am aware, either strain of thought would not be opposed to music that does not claim to be Christian apart from worship as long as it did not promote any specific sins, etc. because it is not claiming to be Christian or worship music. I don't know of anyone that believes that instruments or music is evil. They just limit its context. I personally enjoy jazz music, latin guitar, etc. but am an acapella exclusive psalmodist. You must consider context. The regulative principle of worship regulates worship, so if the music is not intended for worship, what is the opposition to the instrument. David used music to calm Saul. It was used to celebrate events. Music is not evil. But the Lord does regulate it when it is used with His worship.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  23. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    I think I can appreciate what you are saying.
    Thank-you by the way for your patience with me. I really am trying to be open and understand what you are saying.

    I too, by the way, am an ex-musician. Hard core punk for ten years, major distribution, and tours in many continents. I am actually the guy who is vocally opposed to the camp that says playing punk and metal as a form of "worship" glorifies God. My opinions for this ARE different in many ways to your opinions for no instruments at all, but there ARE similarities. Which is why I am not totally in disagreement with you. Just trying to understand.

    Especially my point of the context of enjoying music. I enjoy lots of worship music, and hymns, which use organs, pianos, and sometimes guitars, etc.
    The point was made above that these things (instruments) are totally fine outside the context of "worship". And my point is, then why play music at all if you are not doing it as an expression of worship (I understand your opinion, you feel it's not prescribed) or to enjoy God (which is confessional) or to edify another.

    What context then, can we enjoy music?
  24. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    You're still assuming the "all of life is worship" view. I don't Scripturally see a need to "baptize" an activity as worship in order to do it to the glory of God. Thus, a string quartet or a banjo player may make music to God's glory without it being worship. If Christopher Parkening plays some fantastic Segovia arrangement, he may bring glory to God through his calling as a musician, but this does not make his concert a worship service. The Westminster Confession, Chapter XXI, is a great place to start if you want to better understand those particular covenantal activities which make up special "religious worship" as distinct from our other daily works.
  25. Scottish Lass

    Scottish Lass Puritan Board Doctor

    I think the others above (especially John at #26) said what I would have said, but far more eloquently and clearly.
  26. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    But this is still done as an act of "worship"

    ---------- Post added at 11:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:06 AM ----------

    Posts are getting jumbled here. Thanks for the replies! I am trying to respond properly in sync here, but they are getting out of order.

    ---------- Post added at 11:13 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:08 AM ----------

    Can I try to REALLY simplify what I think I understand is being said to me? (For the sake of my own dumbness, not anyone else's)

    Listening to a "worship" cd, and enjoying that is "acceptable"
    But the act of that recording, being done in a "worship setting" is unacceptable?


    Listening to a "worship" cd, and enjoying that is "acceptable"
    The recording was made, not in a "worship setting" (ie. a studio recording), and is acceptable.

    So this is just a difference between "private" and "public" (or Sabbath) worship then?
  27. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior

    This would be where the different views I mentioned come in. I personally don't think that every time anything Scriptural is mentioned or someone says "God" or "Jesus" it is considered worship. So, I would hold to view #2 mentioned above. However, I think I am in the minority. We can't help but talk about or sing about the things that we care for or the things that are in our hearts. If you are a Christian and a musician, how can you NOT sing about things that relate to Scripture. However, during worship, we must follow the guidelines God has provided. Some contemporary Christian songs are clearly meant as worship by the singer. I am uncomfortable with these, but songs about Scriptural teachings, etc., I have no problem with when it is not in the context of worship. But, I would say that I am probably in the minority.
  28. Dearly Bought

    Dearly Bought Puritan Board Junior

    Colin, I believe the RPW applies to private, family, and public worship. As a consequence, I would make some distinctions as to private enjoyment of so-called "Christian" music. I generally would shy away from uninspired music explicitly intended to be religious worship, a blatant example being the popular chorus "Here I Am to Worship." However, I would still allow for a category of "Christian" music. A musician might reflect upon his Christian experience, God's glory, or God's good creation in song without intending it to be an activity of explicit covenantal dialogue with His Maker. I'm strongly in favor of Christian catechetical music.
  29. Reformedfellow

    Reformedfellow Puritan Board Freshman

    Great, now I'm totally bewildered again. :doh:

    Prayer, would be appropriately (though partly) described as "an activity of explicit covenantal dialogue with God"
    But why would the private "activity of explicit covenantal dialogue with God" through music be unacceptable?

    I am REALLY having a hard time with this viewpoint.
    I appreciate your patience and info, but MAN is it hard to swallow...

    (You gotta give me points for being so open though :think:)
  30. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I think the problem is stemming from the fact that we in our English world speak of "worship" in a variety of contexts and with different meanings. If we tied the word down to the concepts inherent in the Hebrew and Greek languages we would see that, strictly speaking, worship is only ever performed in the courts of God's own house, and therefore restricted to what we call corporate worship. Everything else is an extension and extenuation of this concept. Strictly speaking, therefore, worship refers only to that which takes place "when you come together," to borrow an expression of the apostle Paul. In that setting, we are limited by God's revealed will. Those in authority in the church only have power to teach people to observe whatsoever Christ has commanded. To borrow another expression of the apostle Paul, the church is to observe the ordinances as they have been delivered. Where there is no prescription from God's word for any act of worship that action has no warrant in the public worship of God.
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