Fifth-Century Church: Instruments Were For Moses

Q: If songs were invented by unbelievers with a design of deceiving, and were appointed for those under the law, because of the childishness of their minds, why do they who have received the perfect instructions of grace, which are most contrary to the aforesaid customs, nevertheless sing in the churches just as they did who were children under the law?

A: Plain singing is not childish, but only the singing with lifeless organs, with dancing and cymbals, etc. Whence the use of such instruments and other things fit for children is laid aside, and plain singing only retained.

Quaestiones et responsiones ad orthodoxos, 107 attributed Theodoret of Cyrrhus (c. 393–460).

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. It seems that in many, maybe most, evangelical churches today the 5th century instruments have now been replaced by a set of Pearl Drums, a set of Cuban Congas, a Fender Stratocaster guitar, 4 Gibson Acoustic guitars, a digital keyboard, an upright piano and 3 or 4 soloists that when singing all together drown out the pure singing of the Christian congregation. The pure singing of the congregation has now become an aid to the “worship team” and many musical instruments that are engineering emotion.

    • Dave,

      To be clear, the church didn’t use instruments in public worship in the 5th, 6th, or even in the 7th—depending on whether one believes Vitalian installed an organ and ordered its use. Thomas called the use of instruments Judaizing (1274).

Comments are closed.