Good morning and welcome to Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church! We are thankful to have you with us today as we worship our great God. We trust that the Lord will bless you through His word and through the warm fellowship of God’s people. As you get to know us better, you may have some questions you would like to ask about our church. Please feel free to speak with any of our members or the pastor about whatever it is you are interested to know. However, perhaps we can anticipate a question that many people have asked when they come for a visit. Why do we sing from a hymn book with no musical instruments for accompaniment?
As with many questions, there is a longer answer and a shorter answer as to why we do music the way we do. In order to be brief, perhaps the following considerations will begin to answer your question. First, in the Old Testament the worship of God was characterised by vivid sights and smells and sounds. A visitor to the temple would have seen animal sacrifices, smelled burning incense and heard a choir of Levitical priests singing loud praises to God with many musical instruments such as the trumpet, the lyre and the cymbals. Anyone attending would have been greatly impressed! However, in the New Testament we no longer worship with the same external elements. We have no priests, no sacrifices, no incense and no proliferation of instruments. Why is this? Has worship today become less than what it used to be? Not at all! New Testament worship is truly majestic but the glory comes from Jesus Christ himself and all that he has accomplished for the salvation of his people. In our church, we do not want our people’s attention to be focused on the music itself but on the God who is being praised by the music. So, we have chosen to sing without musical accompaniment in order to fix our thoughts on the words being sung and the One to whom we are raising our voices.
Second, we have chosen to sing to God from a book of hymns. We do not believe this is the only way to sing to God, however there are several benefits to using a hymn book. One benefit is unity with other Christians. For hundreds of years, God has been praised all around the world by Christians from many different cultures and time periods. Our hymn book seeks to incorporate hymns from these different backgrounds so that we are singing in unison with Christians of all ages. Another benefit would be that our hymn book contains the Psalms of the Old Testament. The bible expressly commands us to sing psalms and we believe that these inspired prayers and poems ought to be used in church worship. Thirdly, these books contain the musical notes for all of the lyrics so that those among us who are musically gifted can sing out confidently and lead the rest of us in how the song ought to be sung.
Of course, you may be unfamiliar with the way in which we give praise to God. And, you may even disagree with how we practise our worship. We certainly do not expect that everyone will agree with us in this matter. However, it is our sincere hope that despite what may be a difference of opinion, you will join with us in giving thanks to our God for His wonderful salvation found in His Son Jesus Christ!
“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” Ephesians 5:18b-19.