Music Should Display Variety

Featuring Bob Kauflin Posted on January 11, 2011

What did Paul mean when he encouraged us to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19)? No one's completely sure.Most scholars agree he seems to be encouraging diversity in the songs we use to praise God. “Psalms” might be referring to the Psalter, “hymns” to songs that praise Christ, and “spiritual songs” to more spontaneous expressions. If that's the case, Paul is encouraging us to sing all our songs—short, long, fast, slow, old, new—with gratefulness to God.

Here are some ways that stylistic diversity pleases God, along with some ideas for how to pursue it.

Reflecting God's Various Attributes

Musical diversity reflects the varying aspects of God's nature. He is transcendent and immanent. He splits mountains and clothes the lilies. We worship him as our Creator and Redeemer, King and Father. How can anyone think that a single kind of music could adequately express the fullness of God's glory?

There are four Gospels in the New Testament, not one. God used theunique backgrounds, personalities, and education of Matthew, Mark, Luke,and John to bear witness to the Savior. Music can be used in a similar way.
There's a time for singing “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending” by John Cennick, another for singing “Because of You” by Paul Oakley, and yet another for singing “In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. All three mention Christ's return in different but equally valid ways.

God is too great and the human experience too complex to think that one kind of music will always best express the dynamics of our relationship with a living God.

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