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#47199 Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:49 PM
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Robin Offline OP
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Google is little help for this search I'm afraid. I'm looking for articles and other resources that can help define and explain the role of the choir in Reformed Lord's Day worship.

I found some articles on the history of chorales and choirs in church history, some in which the choir played a liturgical role as a sort of "lower clergy" representing the priesthood, and Martin Luther's use of it to encourage congregational participation.

In Scripture I find examples of the Levitical choir actually leading in some of the battles of ancient Israel! Sounds intriguing, and I believe the choir (or at very least, the singing congregation) is a vital part of spiritual warfare.

"Worship as warfare" got quite distorted in the old Charismatic circles I used to run in. But I'm hoping to find a biblical basis - beyond allegorical interpretation - for having a choir in the assembly for Lord's day worship, and what role, if any, the choir should play biblically.

Can anyone point me to some research/resource material for this?

Thanks,
Robin

Robin #47206 Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:06 AM
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Robin,

I'm not sure there is any biblical basis for having a choir or "special music" which is so popular in many evanjellycal churches, even in some alleged Reformed churches today. The Regulative Principle of Worship, until recently, has been understood to not allow choirs in corporate worship, but rather corporate congregational singing where ALL participate, which is ancillary to the centrality of the preached Word.


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Robin #47207 Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:15 PM
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Hi Robin,

I have to agree with Pilgrim on this one. I do not know of any biblical justification for setting aside a choir for singing during regular Lord's Day worship.


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Robin Offline OP
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That would explain the scarcity of articles about choirs and such here on this and other Reformed sites. smile

The PCA church in my town has a choir and a "praise team." The "praise team" is just a handful of talented singers who lead the congregational singing.

The choir plays the same role, but also performs an anthem during the service, which is also intended to lead others in worship (though their participation is "non-verbal").

The Regulative Principle certainly has a broad range of interpretations in the PCA, from the exclusive singing of unaccompanied pslams to the full-blown "Hollywood" sort of stuff you might pay big bucks to see at a concert.

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Originally Posted by Robin
The PCA church in my town has a choir and a "praise team." The "praise team" is just a handful of talented singers who lead the congregational singing.

The choir plays the same role, but also performs an anthem during the service, which is also intended to lead others in worship (though their participation is "non-verbal").

The Regulative Principle certainly has a broad range of interpretations in the PCA, from the exclusive singing of unaccompanied pslams to the full-blown "Hollywood" sort of stuff you might pay big bucks to see at a concert.
The PCA has LOTS of various "interpretations" of many doctrines, including The Regulative Principle of Worship, which in too many instances is alien to how the Reformed/Presbyterian churches have understood it and practiced it. It would seem that the PCA has taken the 'lead' from John Frame's view which he sets forth in his book, Worship in Spirit in Truth. Having read this book with special interest since Frame was one of my former profs at WTS, Philly, it became quickly and painfully obvious that he virtually ignores the Regulative Principle and makes it of no effect, adopting more of the Lutheran view, i.e., "whatever is not forbidden in Scripture is allowed."

So, now as to the matter of a "praise team", it on its face, would be a violation of the Regulative Principle for various reasons, the most obvious being there is no commandment nor example of such in Scripture. But there is another problem that I can see with such a "praise team" and that is that worship is to be conducted by the eldership, which is entrusted with the care of the people of God, especially in the church's ultimate expression as a people called out of the world, to worship God in spirit and truth. In too many cases, "praise teams" and "choirs" tend toward entertainment, which the whole world in our day is infatuated. Reformed/Puritan worship was always reverent and simple vs. the modern display of up-beat emotionalism.


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Pilgrim #47221 Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:24 PM
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Ok I have a question the Hebrew word natsach which in the KJV is translated Chief Musician but in the ESV as Choirmaster. (Ps. 4:1; 5:1; 6:1; 8:1; 9:1; 11:1; 12:1) what did he do?

Last edited by Peter; Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:25 PM.

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Originally Posted by Peter
Ok I have a question the Hebrew word natsach which in the KJV is translated Chief Musician but in the ESV as Choirmaster. (Ps. 4:1; 5:1; 6:1; 8:1; 9:1; 11:1; 12:1) what did he do?
Peter,

From my own investigation of the Hebrew natsach and from various other sources, e.g., Keil & Delitzsch commentary on the Psalms, J.A. Alexander commentary on the Psalms, etc., I believe the KJV, ASV, WEB and most other translations correctly translate the word as "Chief Musician", vs. the ESV as "Choirmaster". Keil, as might be expected, is much more thorough in discussing the use of the term as it is found in the Hebrew. I would recommend this section to your reading.

Basically, the majority of commentators see this term as one that designates one who is "over", i.e., having authority over others, e.g., in the building of the Temple. And more specifically, it can designate one whose duty it was to arrange and train the Levite choristers which most always required musical accompaniment, which it seems was predominantly with stringed instruments (cf. Hab 3:19). This same phraseology appears in some 55 Psalms and can also be found in several other books of the OT, e.g., 1 Kings, 1 Chronicles, Isaiah and Ezra. Thus, "Choirmaster" doesn't fit. But "Music Director/Chief Musician" expresses the idea much more accurately. Again, in the OT worship, the music was performed along with the general congregational singing of the songs and not apart from it as is the general practice today.

This leaves the final question, although doubtless there are many more which could be asked, is this position of "Chief Musician" one which is perpetual or one which was restricted to the OT temple worship? Is there any indication in the NT that in the worship of God was to include Levitical singers and one who trains and directs them? I'll leave that to everyone else's investigation and conclusion. grin


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Robin #47897 Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:00 PM
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Robin,

There is a sermon entitled, "The Choir" taught on September 30, 2003 AM, by Rev. Dr. Robert S. Rayburn. I believe it is an excellent teaching about a choir. Go to Google and type in Faith Tacoma and you will find it there.

Love to you in Christ alone,

bill

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Since the NT clearly teaches congregational singing and not the choir, it logically follows also that there is no room for a Music director or chief musician.
If the role of the chief musician in the OT was to lead the Levitical choir, then in the NT all we need is any gifted brother or sister to start hymns during the worship service led by an elder.
Just my thoughts! What think ye?



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I am in agreement that Choir Directors, Music Directors, Ministers of Music, and any such position is without biblical warrant. If the man leading the worship service has no gift for singing, then I see nothing inappropriate about someone else leading the singing, which I believe should be another Elder. In today's contemporary church, singing has taken a place that is equal to or even superior to the preaching of the Word, which biblically is the centrality of true worship. Singing is a complementary element to the preached Word.


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