Parts One, Two, Three (links to other posts on it), Four, Five, Six, Seven
Unlike some speculation that the readership here has shrunk, it has only grown every year and every month -- sometimes less comments, but growing readership. However, the statistics show that this series is less popular, belying any theory that I write on things to get a readership. I never have. However, it has interested me that there are less readers. I can only speculate -- this is not scientific -- but I have three theories, starting with my own least favored: (1) It's Christmas season and people have less time to read; (2) It's a long series and there is no suspense, so people don't have to come here to find out what I'm saying -- they already know; (3) People don't enjoy the parts I've written so far, because they're just not too interesting. I think it is all of the above, but I think it's #3 the most because people don't like the foundational aspects of the music argument. It's like watching paint dry. When I have talked to young people about music through the years, they just want to tell you a group or a genre, ask whether it's good or bad, and then get the answer. I'm to part 8 and I haven't said what's wrong with rap music. I've hinted at it, but that's what people are waiting for, I think, just from my experience with this issue.
I have no problem with applying scripture on what music is wrong and what is right. However, the points or principles or truths leading up to that are very important, and they are the vital underlying reasons why people have the music or worship issue wrong. You might not get it right if you don't understand these foundational points. They aren't interesting to some or perhaps many, but they are necessary, and you have them available here.
At the end of the last post, I linked to the musical composition of the psalms found in the original Hebrew language text. Some might think that this couldn't be true, because people didn't know about it "until now." I don't know what people knew or didn't know about this. I don't believe it represents some kind of apostasy on the issue, because people have, that I know of, always been playing the right music. We didn't lose that at any time that I know. Even though people may have temporarily lost track of the meaning of the notation written in the Hebrew text, they did not apostatize on music that would honor God in worship. The music of the quality represented by the notation was still being sung. By the Spirit of God, men still did know what music was acceptable to God.
But what is that music that is acceptable to God? What characterizes music that will honor God? Before I get to more truths and principles to guide us, here's what we've covered so far.
One, we are to prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Two, music has meaning.
Three, as an addendum to two -- since music is a means of communication, it can communicate moral or immoral.
Four, we determine what is moral, sacred music by applying biblical principle.
Five, applying scripture requires an understanding of truth in the real world.
Six, Music as Praise or Worship is Directed to God and the Gospel Is Preached.
Seven, God is worshiped with beauty (there is objective beauty).
Eight, Christians have historically, characteristically, considered or believed beauty to be objective and measured after the nature of God.
Nine, we now have an idea of what Israel's music sounded like.
Ephesians 5:19 is a classic reference for New Testament worship with music. As a result of being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), a believer will sing and make melody unto the Lord (Eph 5:19). "Sing" and "make melody" are both musical terms. Singing is vocal and making melody is instrumental (psallo) music. Music. Music is by its very nature melodic, so, ten, music directed to God must be melodic. You aren't singing or making melody to God if there is no melody. A composer, using notes, isn't writing anything if he's not writing a melody or a tune. He's isn't writing rhythm. He's writing melody. This is a basic. The music should be musical. It should have a melody. This is prescribed by scripture.
Rap started out of musical absence. The first rappers weren't making music. There might be melody in the background, but the rap isn't music. It isn't being sung. There isn't a tune to it. The words are proclaimed in some rhythm, but rhythm isn't music. It is a quality of music, but you aren't making music without a melody. And if you are making music, you are also rhythmic. But you can be rhythmic without making music. All music has a beat. No one who opposes wrong music does so because it has a "beat." Rap has a beat, but it doesn't have a melody. Without a melody, there is no harmony. Rap isn't music.
Someone might argue that some modern rap has a musical quality to it. I could agree to that. But it still isn't music. It does not carry a recognizable tune. The words are not being sung. They are being shouted or, I don't know, "howled" (I don't know a word for that kind of talking). A dictionary definition, I read, says, "chanting." My connotation at least of "chanting" isn't what I hear in a rap. It's tone sounds like someone who is angry with what is happening. It is ironic that someone could be angry an entire rap with the love of God. I looked for something in rap that was sweet or joyous, but there is nothing that I could find in just rap. The word "joyous" might appear in a rap lyric, but the rap isn't joyous itself. I haven't heard a rap that doesn't sound angry. The rap that attempts, it seems, to be the least angry is just less angry. Compared to the more angry rap, the less angry might not sound angry, but it still has that angry tone that seems to be a fundamental of rap. It doesn't seem that someone is rapping if he doesn't at least communicate anger. I'm going to get to this later, but something can't be all anger and still be right.
There was a day that this point didn't need to be made, but now it does, and it is a point that was already in the Bible. Music that honors God, that respects Him, that worships Him in truth, must be melodic.
Someone might argue that rap isn't intended to worship, that it, perhaps, is a proclamation method, but then I send you back to #6 of the above points in review. We don't need a new method for the gospel. What the Bible says is sufficient.
More to Come