One must always watch lest the song be light and frivolous; rather, it should have weight and majesty, as St. Augustine says. No instrument like the human voice." And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." Does any one object, that music is very useful for awakening the minds of men and moving their hearts? As for the melody, it has seemed best to moderate it in the way we have done, so as to lend it the gravity and majesty that befits its subject, and as might even be suitable for singing in church, according to what has been said. His studies and ideas provided the basis for Calvinist Protestants in Holland and Scotland, the Huguenots in France, and the Puritans of England. Ballymena, Co. Antrim Tel. (Colossians 3:16,17). 2 (2006):16. For even in our homes and out of doors let it be a spur to us and a means of praising God and lifting up our hearts to Him, so that we may be consoled by meditating on His virtue, His bounty, His wisdom, and His justice. thirteen of them by Clement Marot and the other five attributed to himself. So what are we to do? Do you agree with John Calvin that it’s easy to identify? version of the Strasbourg Psalter. The following is a series of quotes and their sources that I think that some readers will find enlightening, others will find them disturbing, and others interesting. Join our monthly mailing list to receive short, thought-provoking, biblical and theological articles by post (UK only) or e-mail. That would hinder rather than help our praise. John Calvin on Instrumental Music. Then, too, we must keep in mind what St. Paul says, that devotional songs can be sung well only by the heart. 10, p. 652. Later, the Genevan Psalter was published as well, providing an enlarged I have also no doubt, that, from the very first, they followed the custom of the Jewish Church in singing Psalms.”. ", Center for Church Music | 12879 Lakeshore Drive | Grand Haven, MI 49417 Share with your friends. Only let the world have the good sense henceforth to leave off singing those songs—in part vain and frivolous, in part stupid and dull, in part foul and vile and in consequence evil and destructive—which it has availed itself of up to now, and to use these divine and heavenly canticles with good King David. But when they frequent their sacred assemblies, musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. And for this reason we must be all the more diligent to control music in such a way that it will serve us for good and in no way harm us. This is why the early doctors of the church used to complain that the people of their time were addicted to illicit and shameless songs, which they were right to call a mortal, world-corrupting poison of Satan’s. Why is it that those who want to identify with Calvinism are quick to quote Calvin on matters like predestination, but don’t appear to want to quote Calvin on instrumental music in the assemblies? But more than this, there is hardly anything in the world that has greater power to bend the morals of men this way or that, as Plato has wisely observed. What shall we then say of chanting, which fills the ears with nothing but an empty sound? And this is no recent invention. I imagine all will find them a little ironic. 83 Clarence Street John Calvin (1509–1564) was only eight years old when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Church door, yet he became a formative voice in the Protestant Reformation. And in truth, we know from experience that song has a great power and strength to move and inflame the hearts of men to invoke and praise God with a heart more vehement and ardent. 83 Clarence Street, Ballymena, N. Ireland BT43 5DR. Now it is man’s gift to be able to sing and to know what it is he is singing. He studied the Greek language, giving him the ability to read the New Testament in its original language. For, as the praises of God were the subject matter of the Psalms, he means by the singing of Psalms—blessing God, or rendering thanks to him, for in our supplications, we either ask something from God, or we acknowledge some blessing that has been conferred upon us. He went on to say that "singing has great force and vigor to move and inflame the hearts of men to invoke and praise God." We should have songs that are not only upright but holy, that will spur us to pray to God and praise Him, to meditate on His works so as to love Him, to fear Him, to honour Him, and glorify Him. Thus, singing them we may be sure that our words come from God just as if He were to sing in us for His own exaltation. I own it; but we should always take care that no corruption creep in, which might both defile the pure worship of God and involve men in superstition. Among all the other things that are proper for the recreation of man and for giving him pleasure, music, if not the first, is among the most important; and we must consider it a gift from God expressly made for that purpose. Moreover, because of this, we ought to be the more careful not to abuse it, for fear of soiling and contaminating it, converting [it to] our condemnation, where it was dedicated to our profit and use. You can easily find these in his commentaries. Charles Spurgeon, Commentary on Psalm 42. I would like to hear what others think about how to identify false teaching. Commenting on Psalm 33, here is what Calvin had to say: “There is a distinction, however, to be observed here, that we may not indiscriminately consider as applicable to ourselves, everything which was formerly enjoined upon the Jews. For though a linnet, a nightingale, or a parrot sing ever so well, it will be without understanding. Calvin became a strong supporter of congregational singing. He wrote about two kinds of prayer-one with words alone, the other with singing. Cited by Methodist commentator Adam Clarke; Clarke's Commentary, Vol. “Now among the other things which are proper for recreating man and giving him pleasure, music is either the first, or one of the principal; and it is necessary for us to think that it is a gift of God deputed for that use. Nor does St. Paul himself speak only of prayer by word of mouth, but also of singing. Christian History Institute. As to public prayers, there are two kinds: the one consists of words alone; the other includes music. From this passage, however, we at the same time infer, that the custom of singing was, even at that time, in use among believers, as appears, also, from Pliny, who, writing at least forty years, or thereabouts, after the death of Paul, mentions, that the Christians were accustomed to sing Psalms to Christ before day-break. Update on December 15, 2015 by Pastor Jack Wellman. Dismiss, A Puritan Preface to the Scottish Metrical Psalter, The Ends, Command and “Notion” of Singing Psalms, Scriptural Praise: The Case for Exclusive Psalmody. And he also printed Kells, Ballymena For more information fill out our contact form “What is there now to do? the Strasbourg Psalter of 1539, which consisted of eighteen psalm versions, Sing unto Him. John Calvin commenting of I Corinthians 14:15: “When he says, I will sing psalms, or, I will sing, he makes use of a particular instance, instead of a general statement. And for this reason we must be all the more careful not to abuse it, for fear of defiling or contaminating it, converting to our damnation what is intended for our profit and salvation. But when melody goes with them, they will pierce the heart much more strongly and enter within. Martin Luther, Reformation Leader: "The organ in the worship service is a sign of Baal." Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. by Doy Moyer. It is true, as St. Paul says, that all evil words will pervert good morals. And in fact we find from experience that it has an insidious and well-nigh incredible power to move us whither it will. Calvin's interests, however, focused on the humanities. For even now, if believers choose to cheer themselves with musical instruments, they should, I think, make it their object not to dissever their cheerfulness from the praises of God. John Calvin commenting of I Corinthians 14:15: “When he says, I will sing psalms, or, I will sing, he makes use of a particular instance, instead of a general statement. Covenant Protestant Why is it that those who want to identify with Calvinism are quick to quote Calvin on matters like predestination, but don’t appear to want to quote Calvin on instrumental music in the assemblies? Calvin’s writing, with works like Institutes of the Christian Religion, and his service to the church at Geneva, Switzerland, helped the Reformation take root in Western Europe—and around the world. If there were no other consideration than this alone, it ought indeed to move us to moderate the use of music, to make it serve all honest things; and that it should not give occasion for our giving free rein to dissolution, or making ourselves effeminate in disordered delights, and that it should not become the instrument of lasciviousness nor of any shamelessness…. 11 AM & 6 PM, Contact: All rights reserved. E-mail: email@example.com, See the Links page for 88 John Calvin Quotes. If even for this reason alone, we might well be moved to restrict the use of music to make it serve only what is respectable and never use it for unbridled dissipations or for emasculating ourselves with immoderate pleasure. singing in the church from the clergy to the congregation. After intelligence, the heart and the emotions must follow, and this can happen only if we have the hymn engraved in our memory so that it will never cease. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, The CPRC Bookstore is now taking UK and international orders and accepting PayPal payments! By Jon W. Quinn The Front Page From Expository Files 4.2; February 1997. For these reasons this present book, even for this cause, besides the rest which has been said, ought to be singular recommendation to each one who desires to enjoy himself honestly and according to God…”. Fax: 616-846-9256 | Toll Free Number: 1-800-587-5780 Clement of Alexandria severely condemns the use of instruments even at Christian banquets." He transferred Paul allows us to bless God in the public assembly of the saints only in a known tongue, (1 Corinthians 14:16.) Moreover, since the Holy Spirit expressly warns us of this danger by the mouth of Paul, to proceed beyond what we are there warranted by him is not only, I must say, unadvised zeal, but wicked and perverse obstinacy.”. Just as wine is funnelled into a barrel, so are venom and corruption distilled to the very depths of the heart by melody. BT43 5DR, Lord’s Day Worship Services: 2, p.483, London, John Calvin, Reformation Leader, Founder of Reformed & Presbyterian denominations: "Musical Instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. " versions, including ones by Louis Bourgeois, a colleague of Calvin. For what St. Augustine said is true, that one can sing nothing worthy of God save what one has received from Him.
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