In both Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5, Paul uses the phrase “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” when commanding the church to use music in its discipleship. Are these terms three different kinds of music? Synonyms meaning pretty much the same thing? Generic terms embracing all kinds of music? Well, analyzing Paul’s use of Greek is beyond my abilities but I know someone, Dr. Scott Aniol, who has tackled this subject and addresses these questions in this article. There are a lot of opinions on this topic but most of them approach it from the perspective of projecting today’s aesthetics back into the 1st Century. Dr. Aniol looks at it from the perspective of the 1st Century church and the Greek and Hebrew traditions into which Paul was writing. You may or may not agree with him but, having sat through more than one of his lectures on the topic, I can assure you that the research behind his opinions is impeccable, and you should find his commentary intriguing, at the least. Enjoy!
Well, I’ll leave you to look up the Blazing Saddles reference yourself if it’s not familiar to you, but, while you’re here, I do have some questions for you to consider:
Where do music ministers, often called worship leaders, come from? How do they become caretakers of your church’s music? What training should they have? What skills are needed? Is theological/ministerial training important? Does a music minister need a badge (degree)?
Before I refer you to a lead on answering these questions, I should mention that I hold that the true worship leader of a church is its pastor/shepherd/elder who is ultimately responsible for all elements of a service and for leading the church body in worship. Aspects of a service, such as the music, might be delegated, both to allow the Holy Spirit to utilize all the gifts He has distributed and to allow the pastor more focus on teaching and shepherding the flock. But, unfortunately, a service’s music leadership is all too often assigned on musical ability alone rather than pastoral calling and training. David de Bruyn says this “is like delegating the planning of the Lord’s Supper to the kitchen staff.” (And may God bless those who emulate servant leadership in our kitchens!) In most churches, as much or more time is spent on music as on preaching, scripture reading, and praying combined. This is formative time for feeding the flock, thus those planning the musical ‘menu’ need to understand how to feed the flock biblical nourishment.
But, I digress. Back to that lead I mentioned. Please read this article from Ed Steele, Professor of Music, Leavell College (New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary), titled “Why Skill-Based Music Study is Needed in the Seminary Setting.” He tackles these questions and raises an urgent call for churches to engage and discuss these vital topics.