the weblog of Alan Knox

A quick question about music and singing

Posted by on Nov 11, 2009 in gathering, scripture, spirit/holy spirit | 10 comments

In Ephesians 5-6, Paul writes about the results of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Part of his description involves music and singing:

[B]e filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart… (Ephesians 5:18b-19 ESV)

Paul indicates that the outward expression of our “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” is directed toward “one another,” while the inward expression (our “heart”) is directed toward the Lord.

How should this affect our music and singing (and the purpose of our music and singing) when we gather together with the church?


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  1. 11-11-2009

    I think I read another blog on this same issue.

    I am thinking through that question now. I’ve heard many people say we are singing to an audience of one (though it never seems to look that way practically). I’ve also heard people defend hymns, saying that this is one of the simplest ways of teaching people doctrine in a way they will remember it. I am sure both have some merit, but that passage….one another…. there is something there that we are giving each other.

    I want to dwell on this for a while.

  2. 11-11-2009

    Once, in our worship gathering, we had the two sides of the congregation (we’re in a traditional, auditorium style room) face one another during an encouragement/exhortation song. Very good experience, though we’ve not done it since (too far outside our trad Baptist box?).

    This is, of course, by no means the extent of the application of this passage, but it was an instructive experience.

  3. 11-11-2009

    Stephen and Laura,

    I’m glad that I’m not the only person thinking about this. 🙂


  4. 11-12-2009


    I wonder if perhaps we focus too much on the act of singing and not who we are singing to – rather it be one another or the Lord.

    I also think an undue amount of attention is given to the lyrics of the songs in relation to the condition of our hearts.


  5. 11-12-2009


    Did you read my post before you posted yours?

  6. 11-12-2009

    This video came to mind as I read your post. I don’t know if this would be considered a “spiritual song,” but the outward expression seems geared toward encouragement and exhortation of those gathered, while the hearts of the people present seem directed at the Lord. (This is a charismatic meeting in Australia, facilitated by a friend – but it’s pretty subdued for charismatics). 😉

  7. 11-12-2009


    Yes, I think you may be right.


    No, I haven’t read your post yet. I saw the title from the link that Stephen Young posted. I’m glad that several of us are thinking about this issue.


    Thanks for the link. I’ll watch the video.


  8. 11-14-2009

    I meant to come back and post here, but didn’t have the time until now. I was thinking about the Song of Moses. Remember when God gave Moses a song and told him to learn it and teach it to all the people to sing for generations. The song included the character of God, his mighty acts, prophesy of disobedience and of forgiveness.

    Can that example fit somewhere into our thinking about the purpose singing in the church?

  9. 11-24-2009

    As I said on Steve’s blog, I think it depends on the context of our singing. When we designate a meeting a “worship service”, it seems logical that we sing primarily to God (although not exclusively, think of a “Call to Worship”). But when we have a fellowship gathering of some sort, the point of which is to encourage and help one another in our Christian walk, singing to one another may well be an appropriate form of encouraging one another.

  10. 11-24-2009

    Wolf Paul,

    You said, “When we designate a meeting as a ‘worship service’…” So, why do we designate some meetings as “worship service” but some “fellowship gatherings”? Do we see that kind of designation in Scripture? Is it important that Paul says “whenever you come together” in 1 Corinthians 14:26?