Of Musical Instruments, Worship, Choirs, Levites, And Blood

The use of instruments in worship was admittedly part of the Temple service. It had no place in the Tabernacle before David’s day, beyond the use of two silver trumpets made by Moses, in the hands of the priests. There is not a particle of evidence to show that it entered into the ordinary worship of the family or the synagogue. We are now prepared to take a step further, and note that, in the Temple service, it was uniformly and most closely associated with sacrifice and the burning of incense.

…[T]he playing on instruments was confined to those bands of Levites whom David was training in anticipation of the building of the temple—these acting in this for and as representing the whole people.

…1 Chron xxiii.26–32. It is very plain from this passage that the service of praise as conducted by the Levitical choirs with musical accompaniment, was associated with the regular morning and evening sacrifice, and with other sacrifices.

Robert Nevin, Instrumental Music in Christian Worship: A Review Chiefly in the Way of Reply to Professor Wallace, 2nd edition, rev. (Londonderry: Bible and Colportage Society, 1873), 29, 30.


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    • Thanks Ryan! It’s definitely Victorian so it’s little verbose but worth slogging through. It’s not easy to find a presentation of the Reformation view of instruments etc.

  1. I completely agree. Personally I have found John L. Girardeau’s work on the self-same subject helpful: http://www.covenanter.org/Girardeau/Instrumental/instrumentalmusic.htm

    He touches on the Reformation under the section entitled Historical Argument, but I thoroughly enjoyed the reply. Thanks for the post! My own research on nineteenth-century American Presbyterianism has yielded a few comments here and there on the issue of musical instruments in worship, but by the late 1800s the instrumentalists have gained considerable ground in the churches.

    • I don’t see it online. Sorry. You can get the book in print, however, by purchase or via inter-library loan, which is usually free. Any public library can help you. They would probably be delighted since I doubt they get asked to do this very often.

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