I'd like to begin a new series here on Harmony Passion, taking a look at music references through the Bible. The way church musicians view their ministry should be informed by a Biblical framework. These thoughts will be helpful to put church music in perspective, and may be beneficial for personal or group devotionals for church musicians.
"And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ."
This is the first mention of music in the Bible. The first mention of anything in Scripture is usually an important consideration. Jubal is the first Biblical musician. This verse touches close to my world because it is the inspiration for the name of a music group that I have been privileged to be a part of, The Sons of Jubal.
It is interesting to note that this verse talks about instrumental, rather than vocal music. Although singing and trumpet playing are much more frequently mentioned, this verse talks about the "harp and organ." Considering the historical context, these two terms more than likely refer to a small harp (like a lyre) and a flute-like instrument (not the organ of today).
I take away a couple of things from this verse. First, music goes all the way back to the beginning. By the fourth chapter of the Bible, music is already present, thriving among the earliest people groups. This fact leads to the conclusion that the desire and ability to make music is not a product of man-made conventions, but is an innate characteristic placed in us by God. As we will see in later studies, God himself is a musical being. Because we are made in His image, we have the trait of musical expression also.
Second, music is something that is shared within the realms of society that God created. Jubal took the instrumental music that he had helped to pioneer and passed it down to his children. By sharing his music, he created a legacy. We, as musicians, can have a similar effect upon our world. Sharing music with family, friends, churches, and communities allows us to inspire and educate those with whom we interact.
And lastly, music is the role that has been given to some of us as our chief benefit to those around us. Looking at the surrounding verses, we can see several other skills and abilities that others of that time period possessed, including agriculture and metallurgy. Not everybody was a musician. But everyone should have a beneficial role in society. Music-making is one of those legitimate roles. Do we take this position seriously, trying to derive from music that which will benefit our fellow man?
These are a few brief thoughts about the first mention of music in the Bible. I hope you will join me in this study as we look into a Biblical view of music.
I would also like to hear your thoughts in response to these Bible studies. What truths do you see? Please leave comments on this post and join in the discussion.
Rick McDonnell is a vocalist, voice teacher, and the head blogger at Harmony Passion. Rick enjoys family time, technology, barbershop quartets, singing at church and community events, personal finance, P90X workouts, and studying and teaching the Bible. Rick and his wife Bethany teach music students in their home studio and in music studios in nearby Thomasville, GA.
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