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Instrumental Music
in Worship
Under the NT
Part 2
A Later Addition
to Worship
Instrumental music in worship was not a practice of the church under the immediate direction of
the apostles and inspired men of the first century.  Although all scholars do not agree as to the
actual date of its origin, they do all agree that it was hundreds of years after the apostles by the
power of the Holy Spirit directed the church by giving to it the instructions of the Lord.

Instruments of music are attributed in origin to Jubal by Moses (Genesis 4:21).  They were used
by mankind from that time on.  They were known and used in the apostolic age (though not for
religious purposes by the church).

If there was any indication of their acceptability, why did not the first century church use them?

Vocal music without instrumental accompaniment is called
acapella.  Acapella is from the
Italian meaning "chapel style" or "church style."  Why is vocal music without instrumental
accompaniment called "church style" music, if that was not the style of music used in the
churches? and, recognized as being the style always used in the churches?


Listen to the testimony of the historians.  Remember, many of those who authored these words
used instruments of music in worship; they are not prejudicial to their exclusion in worship
under the New Testament.

The American Cyclopaedia:  "Pope Vitalian is related to have first introduced organs into some
of the churches of Western Europe, about 670; but, the earliest trustworthy account is that of the
one sent as a present by the Greek emperor, Constantine Copronymus, to Pepin, king of the
Franks, in 755." [Vol. 12; p. 688]

Chamber's Encyclopaedia:  "The organ is said to have been first introduced into church music
by Pope Vitalian I in 666.  In 757,  a great organ was sent as a present to Pepin by the Byzantine
emperor, Constantine Copronymus, and placed in the church of St. Cormeille at Compiegne.  
Soon after Charlemagne's time, organs became common." [Vol. 7, p. 112]

Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia:  "In the Greek church the organ never came into use.  But after the
eighth century it became more and more common in the Latin church; not, however, without
opposition from the side of the monks.... The Reform church discarded it; and though the
church of Basel very early introduced it, it was in other places admitted only sparingly and after
long hesitation." [Vol. 2; p. 1702]

Fessenden's Encyclopedia:  "1. Vocal music.  This species, which is the most natural, may be
considered to have existed before any other.  It was continued by the Jews, and it is the only
kind that is permitted in the Greek and Scotish churches or, with few exceptions in the
dissenting congregations in England.  The Christian rule requires its use both for personal and
social edification, Eph. v, Col. iii.  The vocal music of the imperial choristers in St. Petersburg
incomparably surpasses in sweetness and effect the sounds produced by the combined power
of the most exquisite musical instruments.  
2. Instrumental music is also of very ancient date,
its invention being ascribed to Tubal, the sixth descendant from Cain.  That instrumental music
was not practiced by the primitive Christians but was an aid to devotion of later times, is evident
from church history." [p. 852]

London Encyclopaedia:  "Pope Vitalianus, in 658, introduced the organ in the Roman churches
to accompany the singers.  Leo II in 682 reformed the singing of the psalms and hymns,
accommodating the intonation of them to the manner in which they are sung or performed at the
present day." [Vol. 15p p. 280]

Evolution of Church Music by Frank Landon Humphreys:  "One of the features which
distinguishes the Christian religion from almost all others in its quietness; it aims to repress
the outward signs of inward feeling.  Savage instinct, and the religion of Greece also, had
employed rhythmic dance and all kinds of gesticulatory motions to express the inner feelings,
some of them entirely unsuitable to purposes of worship.  The early Christians discouraged all
outward signs of excitement, and from the very beginning, in the music they used, reproduced
the spirit of their religion -- an inward quietude.  All the music employed in their early services
was vocal, and the rhythmic element and all gesticulation were forbidden." [p. 42]

McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia:  "The Greek word (psallo) is applied among the Greeks
of modern times exclusively to sacred music, which in the Eastern Church has never been any
other than vocal, instrumental music being unknown in that Church, as it was in the primitive
Church.  Sir John Hawkins, following the Romish writers in his erudite work on the
History of
, makes pope Vitalian, in A.D. 660, the first who introduced organs into churches.  But
students of ecclesiastical archaeology are generally agreed that instrumental music was not
used in churches till a much later date; for Thomas Aquinas, A.D. 1250, has these remarkable
words: 'Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God
withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.'  From this passage we are surely warranted in
concluding that there were not ecclesiastical use of organs in the time of Aquinas.  It is alleged
that Marinus Sanutus, who lived about A.D. 1290, was the first that brought the use of wind
organs into churches, and hence he received thename of Torcellus.  In the East, the organ was
in use in the emperor's courts, probably from the time of Julian, but never has either the organ
or any other instrument been employed in public worship in Eastern churches; nor is mention of
instrumental music found in all their liturgies, ancient or modern." [Vol. VIII; p. 739]

Christian Antiquities by J.D. Riddle:  "These instruments of music were introduced into the
Christian church about the ninth century.  They were unknown alike to the early church, and to all
the ancients.... The large wind organ was know, however, long before it was introduced into the
churches of the west.  It appears, from the testimony of Augustine and others, that it was known
in Africa and Spain, as early as the fifth and sixth centuries.  The first organ used in a church
was one which was received by Charlemagne as a present from the emperor Constantine
Michael.  In the east, organs were never approved as instruments of sacred music, nor did the
use of them continue without oppositions in the west." [pp. 734-6]

A Concise Cyclopedia of Religious Knowledge:  "The organ has never been used among the
Greeks.  From the time of Charlemagne organs seem to have come more and more into use in
the West, though protests were made against them, and the monks were very averse to their
use.  At the Reformation they were discarded, being considered 'the vilest remnants of Popery';
but they were reintroduced at the Council of Basel." [Ar. Organ, p. 683]

Antiquities of the Christian Church by Lyman Coleman:  "The organ constituted no part of the
furniture of the ancient churches.  The first instance on record of its use in the church, occured
in the time of Charlemagne, who received one as a present from Constantine Michael, which
was set up in the church at Aix-la-Chapelle.  The musicians of this city, and of Mentz, learned to
play on the organ in Italy, from which it appears that they were already known in that country." [ p.

Church History, by John Kurtz:  "At first church music was simple, artless, recitative.  But the
rivalry of heretics forced the orthodox church to pay greater attention to the requirements of art.
Chrysostom had to declaim against the secularization of church music.  More lasting was the
opposition of the church to the introduction of the instrumental accompaniment." [Vol. I; p. 376]

History of the Christian Church, by Philip Schaff:  "The use of organs in churches is ascribed to
Pope Vitalian (657-672).   Constantine Copronymus sent an organ with other presents to King
Pepin of France in 767.  Charlemagne received one as a present from the Claiph Haroun al
Rashid, and had it put up in the cathedral of Aiz-la-Chapelle.... The attitude of the churches
toward the organ varies.  It shared to some extent the fate of images except that it never was an
object of worship.... The Greek Church disapproves the use of organs.  The Latin Church
introduced it pretty generally, but not without the protest of eminent men, so that even in the
Council of Trent a motion was made, though not carried, to prohibit the organ at least in the
mass." [Vol. IV; p. 439]

Antiquities of the Christian Church by Joseph Bingham:  "Music in churches is as ancient as
the apostles, but instrumental music not so."

A Vindication of the Dissenters by James Pierce:  "I come now to say somewhat of the antiquity
of musical instruments.  But that these were not used in the Christian church in the primitive
times is attested by all the ancient writers of one consent.  Hence, they figuratively explain all the
places of the Old Testament which speak of musical instruments, as I might easily show by a
thousand testimonies out of Clement of Alexandria, Basil, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine,
Chrysostrom, and many others.... From what has been said, it appears no musical instruments
were used in the pure time of the church."

Theological Dictionary by Charles Buck:  "Much has been said as to the use of instrumental
music in the house of God.  On the one side it is observed that we ought not to object to it,
because it assists devotion; that it was used in the worship of God under the Old Testament;
and that the worship of heaven is represented by a delightful union of vocal and instrumental
music.  But on the other side, it is remarked, that nothing should be done in or about God's
worship without example or precept from the New Testament; that,instead of aiding devotion, it
often tends to draw off the mind from the right object; that it does not accord with the simplicity of
Christian worship; that the practice of those who lived under the ceremonial dispensation can
be no rule for us; that not one text in the New Testament requires or authorizes it by precept or
example, by express words or fair inference; and that the representation of the musical harmony
in heaven is merely figurative language, denoting the happiness of the saints."

Instrumental Music by Prof. Girardeau:  "The church, although lapsing more and more into
deflection from the truth and into a corruption of apostolic practice, had not instrumental music
for 1,200 years (that is, it was not in general use before this time);... the Calvinistic Reformed
Church rejected it from its service as an element of Popery; even the Church of England having
come very nigh to its extrusion from her worship.... It is heresy in the sphere of worship." [p. 179]

There is no doubt instrumental music was not used in New Testament times in the worship of
the church.  Only vocal, "church style",
acapella music was used.

Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 3: THE TESTIMONY OF

Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 1
Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 3
Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 4
"Music in churches is as ancient as the apostles,
but instrumental music not so."
Antiquities of the Christian Church by Joseph Bingham