The Idea Of Reverent, Orderly Worship Did Not Begin In The Reformation

A reverent restraint in worship did not begin with the Reformation. Clement of Alexandria in the second century A.D. decried all sorts of revelry in the church, which he called “an inebriating pipe” serving only to arouse the sensuous passions. “For,” he continues, “if people occupy their time with pipes, and psalteries, and choirs, and dances, and Egyptian clapping of hands, and such disorderly frivolities, they become quite immodest and intractable.” To Clement, these activities are contrary to the apostolic injunction to “put off the works of darkness” (Romans 13:12). Proper worship, by contrast, was reverent, temperate, and appealing to the rational soul.

The Apostolic Constitutions of the fourth century likewise depict an orderly and reverent worship service. The deacon was appointed to “oversee the people, that nobody may whisper, nor slumber, nor laugh, nor nod; for all ought in the church to stand wisely, and soberly, and attentively, having their attention fixed upon the word of the Lord.” Interestingly, this description accords closely with the instructions in the Westminster Directory for Public Worship more than a millennium later. Read more»

Robert Kelbe | “Reverence and Emotion in Reformed Worship Part 1” | May 4, 2022

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5 comments

    • Stringed instruments.

      psal•tery also psal•try \ˈsäl-t(ə-)rē, ˈsȯl-\ noun
      plural -ter•ies also -tries [Middle English psalterie, from Anglo-French, from Latin psalterium, from Greek psaltērion, from psallein to play on a stringed instrument] 14th century: an ancient musical instrument resembling the zither

  1. Clement’s admonishment must not have been taken too seriously because by the time Augustine I’m told that he would be questioned during his sermons. I’m told this was done as a way of fulfilling 1 Cor 14:29.

  2. Scott,

    Can you give me, or point me in a direction that would explain the history of the regular use of creeds during each worship service.

    Blessings,
    Jeff

    • Jeff,

      The first creed recited in public worship in both the Old and New Testaments is the Shema: “Hear O Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one” (Deus 6:4). It’s almost certain that 1 Tim 3:16:

      Revealed in the flesh
      Vindicated by the Spirit
      Seen by angels
      Proclaimed among the nations
      Believed on in the world
      Taken up in glory.

      We know that the regula fidei (rule of faith) began to develop very early in the 2nd century. Irenaeus quotes three mature forms of it in the AD 170s–80s. The rule became the Symbolum Apostolorum (The Apostles’ Creed) by the mid 3rd century and was widely used in worship by the 4th century.

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