Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"Statement of Principle for Music in the Church" (pt.1)

The following are excerpts from the guidelines for church music that were printed as part of the preface of a church hymnal in 1959:

PRINCIPLE: The music of the Church should be appropriate for worship.

1. In spirit, form and content the music of the church should be a positive expression of Scripturally religious thought and feeling. It should serve the ministry of the Word.

2. The music of the church should be beautiful.... It should satisfy the aesthetic laws of balance, unity, harmony, design, rhythm, restraint, and fitness [appropriateness] which are the conditions of all art.


1. The music of the church should represent the full range of the revelation of God.
2. The minister of the Word...and the [music] director should cooperate constantly, so that the service of music will contribute to the service of the Word.
3. The poetry [lyric] of the songs should be good poetry; it should not have to rely upon the music to carry it. The music of the songs should be ... good music; it should not have to rely upon the words to carry it.
4. Whenever Psalms or other portions of Scripture are involved, the poetry [lyrics] should be true to the inspired Word. Such poetry should at the same time be vital -- free from the defects of artificiality and sentimentality....

I plan to add the rest of the "Implications" in a future post, but for now I am struck by a number of things about these guidelines, including how carefully (and theologically) this denomination (and the publishers of this hymnal) reflected on the issues related to what kind of music/lyric was appropriate and God-pleasing for use in gathered worship.

-- from the Psalter Hymnal of the Christian Reformed Church (1959)

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