Hugh’s News & Views (Gifted Or Authorized?)


In the worship of the church the New Testament authorizes Christians to sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; et al). Singing was the specified kind of music to be offered in worship to God by Christians. It was over 600 years after the establishment of the church before instrumental music first began to appear in worship, and some historians say it was at least 1000 years after the church began before instrumental music appeared.

When the Protestant Reformation began, most, if not all, Protestants rejected the use of instrumental music in worship because they viewed it as a part of the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church. Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists early in their history opposed instrumental music in worship. David Benedict, in his book, Fifty Years Among the Baptists, published in 1859, stated: “Staunch old Baptists in former times would have as soon tolerated the Pope of Rome in their pulpits as an organ in their galleries” (as cited by Alan E. Highers, editor, The Spiritual Sword, Volume 35, No. 2, January 2004). Continue reading

#culture, #giftedness, #hermeneutics, #hughfulford, #music


9-16-2016 A Capella Music

Why, for hundreds of years after the Apostles, no Christians used mechanical instruments of music in their worship?  Their song worship found them “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19 NKJV).  The “melody” was to come from their heart, through their singing, not an external instrument!  Before the Catholic Church justified external instruments, the music of Christians in worship was known as “a capella,” a phrase meaning “according to the church,” and referring to singing without any additional instrumental accompaniment!  Worship in the churches of Christ involves heart-felt music that teaches “one another,” not heavy, overwhelming instrumentation that entertains!  Corruption of worship caused God to say: “Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments” (Amos 5:23 NKJV).

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#instruments, #music, #sing

Hugh’s News & Views (Stirring Sentiments)


For almost seventy years my life has been shaped by what has transpired in the Bible classes and worship assemblies of local churches committed to preaching, practicing, worshiping, and living according to the pattern set forth in the New Testament. No small part of this have been the truths and sentiments to be found in “the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” lifted in praise to the Father in the teaching and admonishing of one another (Colossians 3:16). Among the many such sentiments, consider the following. Continue reading

#hughfulford, #hymns, #music

How Neil Diamond Motivated My Preaching

When I was a student majoring in Bible at Freed-Hardeman College (it now goes by University), occasionally I received invitations to preach at small churches. When I drove to those appointments, which often were as far as a hundred miles away, I would pop an eight-track tape cassette into my player to help me stay alert. I played a variety of songs, but I had one song that I played every time I drove to preach: Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” Its description of people coming from throughout the countryside to hear the dynamic Brother Love preach invigorated me and help me focus on what I would say as well as the needs of the people to whom I would say it. It reminded me that a variety of people with all sorts of agendas would assemble for worship that day. The reference to crying babies reminded me that not all would be there because they chose to be. The song told me (and Neil Diamond may not have had this in mind at all) that all these people needed to hear God’s message of love through Jesus and that I might help them hear it or block their reception of it by what I said and how I said it. The lyrics challenged me to preach compassionately but fervently.

Among the biblical passages that shaped my approach to preaching was 2 Timothy 4:1-8. Those verses resonated with me early in life as I heard my mother and my great-grandmother Taylor discuss how my great-grandfather loved those verses. Joe A. Taylor came to be identified with the phrase “Preach the Word” in many of the congregations to which he preached in Arkansas, Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio, and Florida. Verse 7 was engraved on my father’s tombstone: “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” These verses emphasize that preachers must proclaim the message of the Lord with faithfulness; they also warn that that the task demands spiritual stamina and love for God. When one considers their message in the greater context of 2 Timothy, he discerns the importance of the heritage of the faithful: Timothy learned the Scriptures from his mother and grandmother; he learned from the apostle Paul to teach faithful men who could teach others.

#arkansas-angels, #brother-loves-traveling-salvation-show, #heritage, #mentoring, #music, #preaching


I was recently afforded the opportunity to perform in the Murfreesboro Symphony Chorus at a concert with the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra. I had been to orchestral performances many times before, and while they can be very exciting, they can also be a bit tiresome during some passages. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself waking up to the applause of the audience at the end of a piece. This one, however–almost every moment of it–was different.

Perhaps it was the acoustics–the reverberation in the venue; perhaps it was the one or two thousand faces focused in on the stage; perhaps it was being able to see the conductor’s face for once instead of his back; perhaps it was getting to be part of a group of incredible singers to which I felt inferior; perhaps it was the beauty of the music, much of which was written by one of the best-known composers of our time. As I sang with the choir, or simply sat and listened as the orchestra played alone, excitement flowed through me like electricity during almost the entire concert. Every solo, every climax, every quiet passage, every pause created a sensation I could feel, not only in my mind and heart, but in my body. Here was a group of some of the best musicians (and me) performing excellent music by one of the most well-regarded modern composers on some of the finest instruments in a superb venue, led by one of the most talented conductors in our region. Every person there (on stage and in the audience) was focused on one thing–the music. Being in the midst of the ensemble provided for one of the most intense musical experiences I’ve ever had.

Revelation 14, 15, and 19 have descriptions of multitudes of people and angels singing praise to God. I’m afraid sometimes we think of that image and liken it to our local congregational singing, which–like any other thing we do on a regular basis–can often seem less than thrilling. Continue reading

#assembly, #book-of-revelation, #christianity, #heaven, #music, #orchestral-music, #praise, #revelation, #singing, #worship

Katy Perry on agape love

Generally speaking, I am not impressed with the work of Katy Perry. Much of her music puts sin on a pedestal like lots of other popular music. “I Kissed a Girl” promotes the homosexual/bisexual agenda; “Teenage Dream” encourages premarital sex and promiscuity in general. Those two may be the worst of her music that has been released for radio airplay. I can’t say much about the other music on her albums because I haven’t heard much of it. However, there’s an old saying: “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” Consider the following lyrics from Katy Perry’s recent hit “Unconditionally.”

I will love you unconditionally / There is no fear now / Let go and just be free / I will love you unconditionally / Come just as you are to me / Don’t need apologies / Know that you are unworthy / I’ll take your bad days with your good / Walk through this storm I would / I’d do it all because I love you

The song, of course, speaks of love between a man and a woman, but it is hauntingly reflective of the love of God toward us–a love that knew no bounds, that did not stop because of any man’s sinful, pathetic behavior; a love that caused Jesus to submit to the mob, to keep silence before His accusers, to endure the whip, to ignore the blood and saliva streaming down His face, to stay on the cross despite the insults being hurled at Him, to reject the mocking invitations to save Himself, to take on the weight of the combined sin of billions of people, to willingly yield up His sinless spirit to God above.

The world is searching for meaning. It is all over the music of our culture, even in some of the most crass songs you hear. It knows what real love looks like, and this Katy Perry song is an unwitting compliment to the God who is the personification of unconditional, agape love. People all over the world are listening to that song and being inspired to exhibit unconditional love in their own relationships. If we could only make them see where that love came from in the first place, and then convince them to obey the gospel!

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)

#agape-love, #american-culture, #christianity, #jesus, #katy-perry, #music, #unconditionally

Jonah – A Type of Jesus

There is a form of music called the “sonata-allegro” format, in which there are three segments—exposition, development, and recapitulation. The concept is that you present a melody called a “theme” in the exposition, perform more-or-less recognizable variations of it in the development, and then restate it almost verbatim in the recapitulation, often a bit more dramatically. The Bible is kind of the ultimate demonstration of the “sonata-allegro” format. Exposition Man breaks his covenant with God, and God seeks to restore the broken relationship. Development – the rest of the Old Testament—the flood and Noah, the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with Moses, the judges, the prophets, etc. Recapitulation – Jesus reconciles man to God on the cross. What I have written below has probably been noticed before and written about hundreds of times, but you always feel like you’ve got something when you discover it for yourself.

The second paragraph below will mirror the first one. The best way to see the comparison is to read the first sentence in the first paragraph below, followed by the first sentence in the second paragraph below; then the second sentence in the first paragraph, followed by the second sentence in the second paragraph, etc.

It was the will of God for Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah knew that the men on board needed to sacrifice him to calm the wrath of God being demonstrated in the storm. The men did not want to throw him overboard; but the will of God cannot be prevented, so no matter how hard the men tried to row, the storm kept them from reaching shore. So the men prayed, declaring their innocence in the matter. They threw Jonah overboard, and the wrath of God subsided, resulting in the abating of the storm. The men then knew that Jonah’s God is the real God, and they turned to Him. Jonah then spends three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, before being vomited onto the shore.

It was the will of God for Jesus to go to Golgotha (Matthew 26:39-42). Jesus knew the angry mob needed to sacrifice Him to calm the wrath of God, which would otherwise be demonstrated in the final judgment of all mankind. Pilate was hesitant to sentence Him to death (Matthew 27:22-23); but the will of God cannot be prevented, so no matter how hard Pilate tried to avoid sentencing Jesus, the angry mob continued to demand His life. So Pilate washed his hands before the crowd, declaring his innocence in the matter (Matthew 27:24). He handed Jesus over to be crucified (Matthew 27:26), and when this was accomplished, the wrath of God subsided, resulting in salvation for mankind. Upon the signs accompanying His death (the veil rent in two, the earthquake), the guards keeping watch over Jesus knew that He was the real God, and they were frightened. Jesus spent three days and three nights in the tomb before being seen alive on the third day.

The symmetry is amazing. Parallelism is a desired feature in all kinds of artwork, from architecture to music to painting to sculptures to story-telling to dance to fill in the blank. God is the ultimate Artist, and His Word contains beautiful demonstrations of this effect. Should we be surprised? After all, He programmed our brains to search for it. – Joshua Gulley 

Josh is a teacher of music at the High School level and a member among the saints at the Smithville Church of Christ

#characteristics-of-the-bible, #god, #jesus, #jonah, #music, #the-will-of-god, #types-and-shadows

A Difference

When the children of Israel were in the “wilderness of wandering,” the Lord gave Moses instructions concerning sins committed and what each individual Israelite needed to do (Numbers 15:22-29). Sin is a violation of God’s prescribed law (cf. 1 John 3:4). Under the old covenant when one sinned unintentionally, that is, sinned without knowing such was done, one was still guilty. (Sinning out of weakness is not addressed by the Lord; cf. Leviticus 4:13, 23, 28, and Numbers 15:25). When such things occurred (sinning unintentionally) the Lord gave Moses a set of instructions to teach the people how they must approach the Lord.

A sin presumptuously committed is another matter. In Numbers 15:30, the Lord spoke with regard to those who sin or do anything presumptuously (NKJV; acts defiantly, NET). What we have here is an attitude of heart that is in rebellion to the Lord. “The expression means that someone would do something with deliberate defiance, with an arrogance in spite of what the LORD said. It is as if the sinner was about to attack God, or at least lifting his hand against God. The implication of the expression is that it was done in full knowledge of the Law” (NET, translator note).

The importance of this distinction is in the understanding level of the one who committed a violation against the Lord’s way. Even today, there are those who sin unintentionally, that is, without clear understanding of the Lord’s way. You will note that the sin (or sins) committed without a clear understanding of the Lord’s way, did not lessen the guilt. They could be (and would be) forgiven by the Lord if the stipulations of His will were obeyed. On the other hand, for those who sin presumptuously, there is no forgiveness.

There is a New Testament application we can make to this. The application can be made with regard to anything wherein the Lord addressed Himself. First, let us not think the Lord forgot to mention something, and with that “failure” we are now allowed to do a particular thing. Two ideas come to mind. First, the Lord addressed Himself with regard to the organization of the local church. Paul gave the Holy Spirit’s exhortation when he told the churches to appoint elders in every church (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1). Since there are to be elders (plurality) in each local congregation, when a congregation has only one, that leader and that congregation is guilty of sin. At best this is an unintentional sin, but more than likely it is intentional—especially when the New Testament “spells it out.”

Second, the application fits with regard to the mechanical instrument of music. It is foolish to think the Lord “failed” (or refused) to address Himself on this issue under the sanction of the new covenant. When He chose not to mention the use or non-use of the mechanical instrument in the worship of the church, the apostles and saints of the first century had a clear understanding what they would do—they would sing, and they would do so without man’s innovation.

Let us not complicate matters by refusing to understand something the Lord addressed, and then act presumptuously as if he did not. RT

#elders, #mechanical-insruments, #music, #presumptuous-sin, #sin-of-ignorance


“We sing with the accompaniment of an instrument in our church, and you don’t,” was a recent statement.

Of course, this is nothing new. Most of us have heard people say the churches of Christ sing “a capella,” a term meaning “without accompaniment” or “in the manner of the church.” That’s not true either.

What they mean is that we do not use a mechanical instrument accompanying our singing. While that is correct, it does not mean we sing without accompaniment.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit,speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:18, 19 NET).

The instrument of accompaniment, according to the inspired apostle, is the heart. We employ our minds in our singing. It is not done as a meaningless ritual, but as a heart-filled, mindful praise of Almighty God, who deserves our full devotion in his worship.

Another recent statement is “they don’t have music.” This is incorrect, too, and shows a misunderstanding of what the scriptures teach. The Bible teaches the only authorized music in worship is singing (Colossians 3:16-17). We must worship in accordance with the truth of the New Testament.

Occasionally, these matters need mentioning so the truth continues to face those who do not teach it. As Paul wrote, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15 ESV).

#music, #singing, #worship

“The use of instrument in the church The…

“The use of instrument in the church. The Greeks as well as the Jews were wont to use instruments as accompaniments in their sacred songs. The converts to Christianity accordingly must have been familiar with this mode of singing; yet it is generally believed that the primitive Christians failed to adopt the use of instrumental music in their religious worship”

“Music, Christian” , McClintock-Strong, Baker Publishing, 1969 (reprint) volume 6, p. 759.


Never played an instrument

I’m not half-bad at singing, no great voice, but I’ve never picked up, or sat down in front of, an instrument to play. A college friend tried to teach me something on the piano and gave up after the first attempt. I love to watch The Maiden play and itch for the ability whenever I see someone making music. And today my office sits next to a music school. Ironic, no?

#music, #musical-instruments

Trumpet was my thing

Trumpet was my instrument of choice in high school.

In both junior high school (that’s grades seven, eight and nine for all you youngsters) and high school, I played the trumpet. And, I was pretty good, too. Sat in first trumpet section for most of my junior and senior year.

Playing in the marching band offered some interesting trips. Our band was in the 1967 Cotton Bowl parade. Marched in a few very cold Christmas parades where I learned the virtues of long underwear and wool pants. But, the lessons reading music translated very well to song leading in the church, not to mention understanding the Bible when it talks about the clear, unmistakable call of the trumpet (Jeremiah 51:27; Ezekiel 33:5).

Additionally, I remember the sacrifice my father made so I could have the instrument. At the time, the Olds Trumpet he bought for me was the preferred instrument and it wasn’t cheap. He had to work a very long time to pay for it, teaching me something about how love gives.

#instrument, #music, #trumpet

Daily Nudge: musical instrument

Do you play one or more musical instruments? Which? How did you get started? Did parents force you to study music, practice your instrument? Was it a chore or a pleasure?

If you don’t play any instruments, which one(s) would you like to play? Why that one(s)?


#music, #musical-instruments, #nudge

Music to Deepen the Mind

When I am in my car, I am always listening to audio books. However, I love music and I was honored to be a disc jockey for four years [two at Freed-Hardeman University]. I just can’t listen to the “music” that is popular today. In my humble opinion, it is simply dreadful.

My preferences are quite varied: opera, classic jazz [Jazz DJ at FHU], classical, folk, classic country, classic rock. All old, it seems. YouTube is a great resource.

For music with lyrics, I have two simple criterion: highly skilled sound/musicians and have something of value to say. Since my chief hobby is learning, my music selections follow the same pattern.

Fiona  Apple, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Marianne Faithful, Don Henley, Bob Dylan, Eagles, U2 etc. all have a lot to say. They are great songwriters. Their music provokes thought and a deeper understanding of mankind.

Fiona and Johnny Cash would be my favorites. Sadly, Fiona has had only three albums in 14 years. Her music is deep.

I love classic country. Today’s “version” of country is “Pop in a Hat.” Give me Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard, Hank,  Sr. and Jr., and a host of others. I love Blues, as well. Especially, slide guitar.  Actually,  I love electric guitar, very much.

And I can’t forget Pink Floyd.



Music has always been a part of my life.

A huge fan of Olivia Newton-John and the Carpenters of the 1970s, I appreciated the music of Electric Light Orchestra and the writing of Jeff Lynne. Many may not agree with me, but I see Lynne as one of best composers since Beethoven.

My love for classical music still survives, believe it or not. While in high school, a girl named Betsy Powell introduced me to classical music and encouraged me to try composing. While I was not very good at it, she complimented me, encouraged me and my love for that music has grown because of her influence.

Influence has much to do with what kind of music one likes. People I know began loving pure country music because their relatives or friends played or sang it. I came to appreciate it more when, a few years ago, I was invited to sing with a Thursday-night group. It’s a wonderful thing when one can feel the love others have for something like music.

Influence is a powerful way to bring others to Christ, too. If people near us can understand the love and the place Christ has in our lives, they can be influenced to love him just as we do, just as we love different kinds of music.

The Bible says, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations,” (Psalm 89:1 NKJV). We can influence others by how we express our love for God and his truth, can’t we?

#influence, #life, #music