The Foundation- Rhythm

Featuring Tony Marvelli Posted on February 7, 2011

The Foundation

    Praise Him with the harp and the lyre
Praise Him with the tambourine and dancing
    Praise Him with the strings and the flute
Praise Him with the clash of cymbals
    Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
(Ps 150:3-6 NIV)

    Music has been used for praise and for God’s grace for centuries.  But, some say that drums and the overall rhythm section do not belong in church music.  Here’s proof in the Bible, of all places, the use of percussion and rhythm instruments was encouraged for praise in David’s time.  Even more verses sprinkled throughout 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles detail the performance of music in praise of God.  David went so far as to command the Levites to “play loudly…sounds of joy” on musical instruments (1 Chron 15:16 ESV).

    As soldiers went into battle, the musicians led the charge to frighten the enemy, with the drummers first.  Denominations in the Deep South use rhythmic music for the same reason – frighten and embattle the spiritual enemy thereby cleansing the house of worship for proper invitation of the Spirit of the Lord.  Often, hand percussion and tambourines were the drums of choice during praise and worship.  All of this reinforces the long tradition of the rhythm section in church music.
    Even if we were raised in some conservative denominations, our churches almost always contained an organ and a piano – which is considered a percussion instrument by music scholars.  While church music has changed over the centuries, the music, and its rhythm, has played—and continues to play—an important role in the Christian experience.

    More interesting is the evolving role of the rhythm section in modern worship music.  While the acoustic guitar, later the electric guitar, and the electric bass gradually gained acceptance as modern Christian music incorporated these instruments, the drum kit remained the latecomer.  To this day, drums are still viewed with a cautious eye.  The instrument is usually limited to an electronic drum kit or acoustic drums enclosed in an isolation booth, as a method of controlling the audio volume.  No matter how you or your congregation treats drums and the rhythm section, there is strong biblical and historical foundation for their relevance in our praise and worship.

    Although you, your worship leaders, and your choir deserve due diligence in the praise and worship function, your rhythm section plays an important role in the foundation of this music.  Recitation of Psalm 150 before rehearsal or Sunday morning services will serve as encouragement especially to them and your entire praise team.

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