"Rejoice in Yahweh, you righteous! Praise is fitting for the upright." Ps 33:1.
Here are some interesting Biblical statistics:
The word "Sing" is used 102 times in the Bible.
"Song" and "sang" combined equals out to 54 times.
We are admonished 19 times to "Sing to the Lord" , ("Love thy Neighbor" was, at most, admonished only 7 times)
specific forms of music mentioned are, Hymns (2), Psalms (6), and Shouts of Joy (7).
Horn, harp, strings, tambourine and dancing, along with others are mentioned repeatedly.
The word "Praise" is used 214 times.
(I happened to be watching a 13 yr old at the time of doing the research for this post. He got quite interested in seeing what other words were in the bible. In case you ever wondered, the word "God" is mentioned 3,892 times, "dog" is mentioned 25 times, the word "His" is said 12,233 times, and last but not least, the name "Linus", from the comic strip Peanuts, is indeed mentioned once).
Anyway, back to music. While reading through the Bible, and looking up the scriptures from the above scriptures, you and I will be forced to come to the same conclusions on the subject of music. Music unto the Lord is not only smiled upon, but according to the Psalms, it is a command.
I began teaching piano lessons yesterday. My main desire is to see these children learn to love music and to use it to glorify God. I'm not big on drills and boring, ridiculous pieces. If I do nothing else as a teacher, I want to teach my students to see music as God sees music. I'm not sure exactly as He see's it, of course, but the Bible gives me a pretty good clue.
Now, the question has arisen many times in my own mind, "What kind of music pleases God?" Before I attempt to answer the above question (put forth by myself), I shall quote my friend, J.S. Bach:
"Music should be none other than for the Glory of God and the refreshment of the soul."
I think that pretty much sums it up. The word "Jesus" doesn't have to be every other word for God to be glorified by it. Some classical music is very soothing and, I believe, glorifying to God. He created music, for crying out loud! He must absolutely love it. On the other hand, many "Christian" songs are purely worldly, even lyrically.
I am very fond of other types of music, to many people's dismay. I like the feel of Country music, some classical vocal pieces, even (dare I say it?) some soft rock and pop songs. No doubt, in all of these fields of music, there is some complete trash, but much of it takes me feel refreshed and reminds me of our Father. My rule for myself (which I sometimes have a hard time enforcing) is to objectively listen to a song or piece of music and say "Lord, does this please you? Would this be playing on your radio?" If not, sadly, I must bid the song farewell.
While thinking about musical standards, I was thinking that I have heard many of the same rationalizations for music as I have for art (though it's much easier for me to rationalize music than art because I like it so much more). "Music is neutral, neither good nor bad." And to a point, this is true. But one way to think of it is this: Snakes, in and of themselves, are neither good nor bad. A rattlesnake or anaconda are no "worse" than a small garden snake. They have no will to sin, therefore they are neutral. But it would be totally foolish to curl up and cuddle with a poisonous snake. Just because the rattlesnake, in and of itself is not bad, having no sin nature, it can still be dangerous.
Music, in and of itself is not bad, having no sin nature, but it can still be dangerous. Granted, there are some very big differences between snakes and music, but an analogy worth considering.
Anyway, that's what I've been thinking about on the subject of music lately.