Have you or someone you know complained about the music at your church? Or are you aware of the person standing rigid next to you in the morning worship service, silently lip-synching or tapping the pew out of rhythm with the music? Many of us who only sing in the acoustics of a bathroom shower can appreciate those skilled musicians who lead us in worship. How important is music in worshiping the Lord? Scripture indicates that even before the creation of man, angels praised God with music. Lucifer, the mighty angel now called Satan who fell from heaven, was gifted with instruments and skilled in music. Ezekiel 28:13 says of him, “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.” And in the final days of man on this earth, according to Revelation 5:8-9, heavenly music will continue ring out: “Now when He [Jesus Christ] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood…'”
Prophetic messages also emanate from vocal and instrumental worship. God spoke to the heart of the king and to the king’s armies through the harps, horns, stringed instruments, and cymbals played by skilled musicians (remember how the musicians led the Israelites in marching around and pulling down the walls of Jericho). Much of what we know about the heart of King David, himself a musician, is found in the words to the songs he composed, extolling worship and praise, expressing hardship and mourning, and celebrating victories with abandon joy. David even calmed the turbulent spirit of King Saul by playing music on a harp.
Musicians also had their own division of service in the Levitical priesthood. Levites ranging from 20 years old and up were designated for the important service of seeking the Lord. Even before the first brick of the temple was laid by Solomon, musicians were identified by their father’s household. The leaders were even mentioned by name in the Scriptures. King David, even in his old age, made musical instruments for the Levite musicians to use in leading praise and worship. He also gave instructions for when to praise which included: “to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening; and at every presentation of burnt offering to the Lord on the Sabbaths and on the New Moons and on the set feasts,” (I Chron.23:30,31).
And then there are all the commandments to praise with song! Too many to quote, but here are just a few.
Ephesians 5:19 “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…”
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Psalm 95:1 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”
Psalm 150:1-6 “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”
I have a friend who is the music director at a major local denominational church. Her calling for this role is obvious in the excellence with which she serves. And I am astounded at her qualifications for this position. When I looked up the job description, I can understand even more why we should applaud anyone who is appointed to the role of church music director.
Church music directors, also called choir directors, are professional bandleaders and administrators hired by churches to lead the choir and develop the church’s music-oriented activities. Their job varies based on the structure of the church’s music department and the goals of the minister, but almost always involves scheduling and leading choir rehearsals; conducting and leading the choir in performance; recruiting and auditioning new singers and volunteers; fostering each singer’s musical growth; and appointing senior choir members to become section leaders, soloists, and assistant conductors. Music directors also choose the choir’s performance pieces, prepare special programs for holidays or special occasions, and work alongside the church organist (if they don’t play organ themselves). A church music director should be enthusiastic and dedicated, with a positive attitude and a commitment to serving the local community. Excellent interpersonal skills are a must, as are the patience, clarity, and ease of communication necessary to teach well. Although teaching is a large part of the job, so is performance, and church music directors must possess the musicianship to consistently craft strong performances. Years of experience as a church musician or member of the church choir—as well as deep knowledge of choral repertoire and Christian scripture—are essential. https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/
Because of these dedicated people, I can sing along with my Christian brothers and sisters, the heartstrings of my soul vibrating in tune to heavenly music. More importantly, I can experience God’s holy presence through the songs and presentations thoughtfully chosen and performed by these gifted and talented leaders. I love that music can lift my mood, speak calm to my frazzled nerves, and prepare my thoughts to focus on God’s Word. I pray, Lord, for all those who dedicate their voice, leadership, and musical abilities in leading us in thanksgiving and praise to You. Bless their efforts, honor them in their congregations, and reward their sacrifices of time and energy to serving You in Your house of worship. Thank You, Lord, for my friend and all those who use their artistic talents for You. They are a beautiful example of harmony in the body of Christ.