Musical Instruments in Worship?

IMG_0120Several Protestant denominations and most orthodox do not use musical instruments in sabbath services. Have you ever wondered why they would elect the not use them?  Fr. Ernesto gives an explanation in a series about musical instruments in worship. Here is part of that explanation. Some of the historical quotes he offers may surprise those of us who do use them. By the way, the Orthodox do have acapella singing. If you want to read more from Fr. Ernesto, go to the orthoduck-orthocuban link on my blog roll.


“We often get asked why the Eastern s1070619059_9019Orthodox do not use instruments in worship. While it is true that some of the Greek Orthodox will use a piano or an organ in worship, generally all Orthodox sing a capella. What it may surprise you to find out is that the use of instruments in worship was not accepted until quite recently in church history. Below are a few quotes that might surprise you.

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: “Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.” (Thomas Aquinas, Bingham’s Antiquities, Vol. 3, page 137)

ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO: “Musical instruments were not used. The pipe, tabret, and harp here associate so intimately with the sensual heathen cults, as well as with the wild revelries and shameless performances of the degenerate theater and circus, it is easy to understand the prejudices against their use in the worship.” (Augustine 354 A.D., describing the singing at Alexandria under Athanasius, yes THAT Athanasius.)

MARTIN LUTHER: “The Early Reformers, when they came out of Rome, removed them [organs] as the monuments of idolatry. Luther called the organ an ensign of Baal” (John McClintock and James Strong, Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, vol. 6, Harper & Brothers, 1883, p. 762)

An-ancient-Greek-lyre-2ERASMUS “We have brought into our churches certain operatic and theatrical music; such a confused, disorderly chattering of some words as I hardly think was ever in any of the Grecian or Roman theatres. The church rings with the noise of trumpets, pipes, and dulcimers; and human voices strive to bear their part with them. Men run to church as to a theatre, to have their ears tickled. And for this end organ makers are hired with great salaries, and a company of boys, who waste all their time learning these whining tones.” (Erasmus, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:19)

JEAN CAUVIN (JOHN CALVIN): “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, the restoration of other shadows of the law.”

JOHN WESLEY: “I have no objection to the instruments of music in our chapels, providing they are neither seen nor heard.”

CHARLES SPURGEON: “I would as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery.”

via OrthoCuban.

About Fr. Orthohippo

The blog of a retired Anglican priest (MSJ), his musings, journey, humor, wonderment, and comments on today's scene.
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