What Style of Music? {Worship His Majesty}

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What style of music should we sing for worship? Hymns? Choruses, modern music?

Jesus made a journey from Jerusalem to the Galilee region. Instead of making the easier trip through Jericho and up the Jordan Valley to Bet Shan, He went through the mountains of Samaria. He had an important message to deliver to an unexpected recipient. He was going to reveal to an outcast and immoral woman a most important truth.

What was the message, the Son of God had to deliver to an unsuspecting, unrighteous woman?

God is looking for worshipers.

In the middle of His conversation with this woman a question arose; a question that is quite common today. What is the correct form of worship? “You worship in Jerusalem and we worship in Samaria. You are of the Mount Moriah worshippers and we are of the Mount Gerizim worshipers,” she commented. Jesus response shocked the woman. “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain [Mount Gerizim] nor in Jerusalem [Mount Moriah] worship the Father.”

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth”

“The Father is [still] seeking such to worship Him.” The question of the ages has been, “What kind of worship style is ‘worship in spirit and in truth?’” When Solomon became the king of Israel, following his father, King David; Solomon went to Gibeon and the Tabernacle of Moses to worship. How strange! His father had erected a tent in Jerusalem housing the Ark of the Covenant. He trained musicians and worshipers for leading the worship of God; so the people could come to the tent and worship directly before the presence of Almighty God. Yet, Solomon chose to return to the old tabernacle and the old form worship with no Ark of Covenant and no presence of God.

Why would Solomon do that?

After the Diaspora, the Jewish people were scattered throughout Babylon. The lively instrumental worship of King David was in decline. One of the Psalms talks about them setting their instruments aside. They just could not worship with that much passion.

Worship at the time of Christ had so declined the Pharisees considered instrumental music with worship to be pagan and only the spiritual leader was allowed to sing. The question continued throughout the Apostolic Church era. Some of the Apostolic Fathers believed worship should only consist of the “music of the heart” and the Psalms. Other church fathers including, Clement of Alexandria, Ambrose and Augustine encouraged new congregational singing and even the use of instruments.

The question of right and wrong kind of worship style continued through the Reformation. John Huss and Martin Luther introduced new music for the saints to sing. John Calvin staunchly opposed “humanly composed” music for worship. From his perspective, worship in spirit and in truth was the Psalms of David sung with no instrumental accompaniment and no harmony.

The Church of England and the Puritans strongly adopted John Calvin’s style of worship. However, Isaac Watts with John and Charles Wesley introduced a new style of worship in the Great Awakening. Fanny Crosby brought a new style worship during the Second Great Awakening and was joined by Ira Sankey, the musician and singer for the D.L. Moody revivals.

Every era of spiritual awakening had its own style of music. The Salvation Army used the marching band. Congregational singing with four part harmony that became known as Southern Gospel music, led the spiritual awakening of the holiness movement and the early Pentecostal movement. It would give rise the Gospel Quartet era of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.

Singspiration songs written by Alfred B. Smith, John Peterson and others would be the worship style of Youth for Christ and the Billy Graham Crusades led by Cliff Borrows and the amazing voice of George Beverly Shea.

The Jesus People Movement and the Charismatic Renewal gave rise to yet another style of worship. The simple worship chorus and Scripture songs easily played on the guitar led the way. Song leaders with choirs, pianos and organs were replaced with worship bands and worship teams.

What era of music and what style of music is “worship in spirit and in truth?” Every era of new music has been born of the Spirit to accompany a new move of God to that generation. There are more important questions to be asked.

Does this music carry a biblically correct message?

Does this worship music focus the attention of the worshiper upon God or self?

Does this worship encourage congregational participation and lead them to “enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise?”



F. Dean Hackett has served in full time Christian ministry since October 1971. He has ministered through out the United States, Canada and Eastern Europe, serving as an evangelist, pastor, and conference speaker. He has planted four churches and assisted in the planting of many others and is known for training many workers who are presently in full time ministry as pastors and missionaries. He holds a Masters degree in Ministry, a Masters of Theology and a Ph.D. in theological studies. His enthusiastic and challenging ministry has made him a popular teacher and conference speaker. He has written five books, Discovering Jesus, Uncovering the Jesus Life; The Joy of Becoming Like Jesus; The Joy of Becoming an Ambassador for Christ; Discovering True Identity; Mission Agape’. He began Spirit Life Ministries International in 2001 to facilitate and support outreach ministries in the USA, Croatia and other regions the world that open for ministry. He is the author of F Dean Hackett – Foundational. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


This post is part of the Worship Series

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  1. We attend the early morning worship service because we enjoy traditional music with some contemporary thrown in. But i’m thankful we have a service for the younger set so they can worship with the music they are comfortable with. Words are important to me. Words like “Standing on the battle ground…I am breathing in your grace, I am breathing out your praise…” ~Pamela

  2. That is so wonderful when a church is able to meet individual needs that way. Words are vital – because they form our philosophy of life and our world view. I don’t believe that it is coincidence that God spoke the world into existence. He didn’t have to speak – he could have just blinked His eye and the world could have simply appeared – but He spoke. Words have great power and the tongue speaks life and death. Therefore, I believe that the words we sing have tremendously more power than we know.

  3. Loved this post and all the historical information(: Thanks for including it! I’m 25 and my go-to worship music is Hillsong, Bethel, and Jesus Culture. I get some of the most intimate times with God while in song with those, and the lyrics are amazing(:
    Coming from Faith Filled Friday Linkup and also a follower (:
    Blessings xo


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