What do you think was the hymnal of the early church? Clearly they did not have our “Baptist hymnals” and were clearly uninformed about any worship song that we sing today. This does not mean we are in the dark though as to the worship of the early church. We have several texts that gives us a window into the worship of the first century apostolic christian church.
Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Colossians 3:14–17 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
In both of these texts we see Paul is calling the church to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with joy and thankfulness to God. There is some debate about exactly what we should consider “songs” and “spiritual songs” and what the difference would have been but there is little question as to what the psalms were; namely the book of Psalms in the OT.
So why does it matter? Why am I writing about this?
- God calls us, and gives us the privilege to worship him. No matter the form of music or where it comes from, God has made us to worship him- what an honor we have.
- Musical worship is not simplistic. In other words, we must not say that God is only pleased with this specific type of song, only this rhythm, or only that instrument, or none at all. He calls his church to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Not simply one and not the other. All of them are pleasing to God
- The church would benefit from singing the Psalms. This is easier said than done, especially since most Psalms are hard to sing and most churches have not even considered this. This is something we should look into and consider if we want to take seriously God’s call in Ephesians 5:18-21 and Colossians 3:14-17.
- Worship is centered on the local church. There is nothing necessarily wrong with worship bands and Christian artists. Both have done great things for the Lord and His church. I would also encourage private times of worship with yourself and even you family. These are good things that we must do. We must also see though that worship in the NT is undivided from a congregation. We need to envision worship and the local church and inseparable. Worship on earth is a community empowered work, much like it is in heaven. Yes, worship on your own every day, but just as importantly, never neglect worship with your local church family.
This article is quite brief so many things were not addressed on this topic, but I hope this was helpful for you. Below I have posted some recommended worship, including Psalms, Hymns, and worship songs. Enjoy.