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Special Singers

American journalist and humorist Artemus Ward (1834-1867) said, "I am saddest when I sing. So are those who hear me; they are sadder even than I am." Many may feel the way Ward did. Maybe that's why God said "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands" (Psalms 100:1) instead of make a beautiful sounding noise unto the Lord! According to Scriptures like Psalm 98:6 and 2 Chronicles 29:25-29, God's Old Testament people were commanded to make that joyful noise with trumpets, the sound of a comet (ram's horn), stringed instruments, cymbals, harps, etc. as part of their worship and praise to God. They were, of course, also commanded to make animal sacrifices, burn incense, light candles, and follow the teachings of the Law of Moses. Now Christ has come as Mediator of the New Covenant and has made the first covenant and all the worship practices it authorized obsolete (Hebrews 9:15; 8:13). This is not to say we are no longer directed to offer praise and music to God. 0' contraire! But note carefully what God authorizes us to do. Hebrews 13:15 says, "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." We read similar directions about the kind of song service and music God wants in Ephesians 5:19 — "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." This verse explains why we sing "Purer In Heart" in worship instead of "Achey Breaky Heart." It also explains why we sing and don't play. As the New International Version says in verse 19b — ". . Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord." Well blow me down! The church of Christ uses music in worship to God after all, and to top that, uses an instrument to make it! But read it again — the music is verbal ("sing") and the melody or music is made "in the heart," not on a piano or organ or drum. Further, God directs us to sing to one another, not one or a few who have "the best voices" to all the others. Best voices according to who?

Many years ago I was attracted to the church of Christ and its simple and beautiful way of worship. The Christians who taught me the gospel taught me that every Christian is a priest who approaches God with offerings and spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5, 9); that each worshiper is an active participant and performer in the worship; and that God is the only "audience" and/or "spectator" our worship needs to please. They also taught me that worship is to be done in spirit and in truth, and that singing and every other thing done in worship is special enough if it pleases God. I believed those Christians when they taught me these things 38 years ago. I still do. Much has changed in church practices and traditions over the years and centuries. But God's directions for worship that pleases Him have not changed. Now, as I close, is it just me, or does it bother you, too, that some members of the church of Christ who argue loudest against singing with instrumental music and "special singing" in worship, won't sing in worship? And criticize the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship as unauthorized, but won't lift up their own voice and offer praise to God with the one instrument God has authorized? Just asking.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ