I thoroughly enjoy music. In fact, in my house my kids tell me to turn down the volume. Agreed we should not use music as an escape from problems or a veneer over depression, but instead to tell the tale of our victories and defeats, and express our emotions. Agreed also we shouldn’t prefer music to hearing truth, but why not tell truth in our music? David did. For myself I rank a number of Christian songs over many sermons I have heard and even given. Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 5:19 (WEB), "speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;"
Now this is a cool verse. Here we are exhorted to sing three types of music: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. I once heard someone say that the only music we are to sing are the Psalms from Scripture. They further explained that the Book of Psalms can be divided into three styles: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This assertion is more than I know and unfortunately I only know a teeny bit of Greek with little time to study more. However, if I had more expertise in Greek I would study this verse further in the hopes of enhancing the praises of God’s people.
Yet perhaps the translators already did adequate research and 'psalms' are simply to be understood as the inspired songs of Scripture in the Book of Psalms. I went to a church once and their conviction and policy was to only sing songs from the Book of Psalms. I thought that was cool to sing Psalm chapter one put to music. More churches ought to sing the Psalms.
Likewise the translator’s reference to 'hymns' may simply be a reference to the common congregational music of God’s people, not inspired, but written by thoughtful Christians throughout the ages. My current church family can belt out hymns like I have never heard before. It is actually fun to sing them at full tilt. Likewise our policy, hoping to protect the weaker brother, is to sing hymns only.
Finally, if we take the translation at face value 'spiritual songs' could simply mean any song whatsoever that is spiritual. Wow! Think of the implications! We could be free to make music in any way whatsoever that best expresses our tastes and emotions, while keeping step with the Spirit. Break out my Petra and Larry Norman collection! I think back to my college years and involvement with Campus Crusade, Navigators, and DiscipleMakers, I am reminded that we sang modern praise choruses. These songs were often simpler than hymns and not inspired like the Psalms, but they did a great job of helping me to express my new faith and they were also a blast to sing. Ironically, many of these groups sing praise choruses only.
Now I am sure that when Paul wrote the verse above he did not intend to mean that those with convictions to sing Psalms or hymns or spiritual songs should each meet SEPARATELY to worship! Yet sadly it would seem that this is the case. Of course we each have different tastes whether in the same generation or different generations, yet Christian charity demands that we each think of others more highly than ourselves. Thus we should be willing to be enriched by experiencing the tastes of others and they ours, thus growing together, all while maintaining a more commonly accepted staple so that all get fed.
When my wife and I go out to eat we generally stick to the things we are familiar with, but we also like to test our pallet on new things, as she tries something from my plate and I from hers. Variety is the spice of life! A picky eater is often the result of weak parents who never required that their child try new things. What is the cause of picky worshipers? Hopefully our taste for the joyful worship of Christ with all believers overpowers our particular taste preference in music!
What do I propose? Could someone with expertise in Greek please write a concise article explaining that Paul taught that we should TOGETHER worship God with Psalm, hymn, and spiritual song (unless of course my translation and understanding above is wrong)? Could someone else then put that article in the front of a Christian song book that contains Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (maybe one already exists)? One last favor. Make sure the Ephesians 5:19 song book includes Psalm 1 put to music, How Great Thou Art (Swedish version), and Days of Elijah by Twila Paris. And could someone with money pay for this project?
Thanks for helping with this.