NEWS: If you live in the US or Canada you might want to avoid eating corn products. or any other known genetically modified crops.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: A post on the keeping of the three pilgrim Feasts, in reference to the upcoming Feast of ULB, is coming for tomorrow.
Music and The COG Today
I have done a study through the Psalms to help correct some of these misconceptions about the Psalms which have flourished over time. The Psalms were written for the Temple service and were far more than just rejoicing or praise, they are also INSTRUCTION and EXHORTATIONS in RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Remember also, that Solomon was born to be king of Israel, and his father king David was doubtless teaching him all of these things. It is from that teaching that we see a newly crowned king Solomon being humble before God and righteous in his decisions; requesting wisdom, which is the knowledge and the right use of God’s commandments.
Later Solomon began to get conceited about his wisdom and to fall away from God in his old age; but the Psalms are instructions from a man after God’s own heart, in how to rule well as kings and priests, over the nations. They are not to be ignored nor are they to be truncated or have portions omitted.
The Wisdom books of Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Job and Lamentations are instructions in kingship and ruler-ship over the earth. It is for this reason and also in preparation for Passover that I am studying through these Wisdom Books.
I am not against the singing of psalms during a Sabbath service, nor am I against much of the music of Dwight Armstrong. Many of Dwight’s hymns are very beautiful and are accurate as to content. However he did omit parts of some Psalms in order to force them into the modern mainstream religious music tradition. that was wrong.
Long psalms such as psalm 119 could be broken up inyo yheir natural divisions, but nothing shoul cbe omitted from each sction or from the whole. Can you not imagine several choirds singing various stanzas of psalm 119 in a presentation as long as the modern pagan operas presented by AICF? There is certainly a place for a full presentation of Psalm 119.
I am trying to open people up to the tremendous potential of the Psalms, if we only write music FOR the Psalms, instead of manhandling the Psalms to fit a preconceived idea of what the music should be.
What I am against is the rewriting of a Psalm’s lyrics, to force fit them into a predetermined music style, and thereby; weakening, changing or hiding the intended meaning of the Psalm.
Instead of writing a psalm to conform to our traditional 1800 to 1900′s mainstream musical style; we should be writing our music to compliment the original full Psalm lyrics, as originally written and intended to be sung, so as to maintain the Psalm in its fullness of meaning as instruction, prophecy, prayer or rejoicing!
The error in understanding that an omitted sentence, or paragraph, or the rearranging of words, can cause; prevents a full understanding of the instruction that the Psalm was intended to teach.
I am quite sure that Dwight and others had the best of intentions, but they were intent on forcing the Psalms to fit into a musical style and sometime this worked well, and other times required a serious rewrite of the Psalm that destroyed its true meaning and intent..
The error was to rewrite the Psalm to fit a preconceived musical style, instead of writing the Music to fit the Psalm!
Remember that not everything that sounds or looks good; is good.
If someone takes a Psalm and omits a major part of it, and then rewrites the rest adding a beautiful melody; the beautiful melody does not make the rewritten Psalm, a good and correct presentation of the original intent, instruction and lyric.
Now Dwight does have some very good compositions; and he also has some compositions that APPEAR good, with a quality melody and nice sounding words; which do not reflect the true intent and instruction of the Psalms, which he rewrote in order to force them into a mainstream religious melody.
And in doing this, the true instructional quality of the psalms through the omission of key parts was watered down, which when sung over and over, programs a person to that limited truncated false version and often conceals the true intended meaning of the Psalm.
The nuances of change, can change the whole perception and understanding of the Psalm itself, for those who sing or hear that song repeatedly. And when this is repeated many times, causing a piling on of many straws, it deprives us of a large stack of instruction and understanding about the true meaning of the Psalms in general.
In studying through the whole book of Psalms, I am sure that some of you saw new things and now have a different impression of the Psalms, fro occasional readings and the singing of the Dwight tunes, and in the worst cases, may even cause us to internalize a false teaching..
I am calling for musicians to take the Psalms in their fullness; and rewrite the MUSIC to fit the lyrics!
I do understand that something is always lost in translation, so why trim more meat away?
Arrange lyrics only if it does NOT change meaning; a good example being the 23rd Psalm which has several beautiful versions which contain all the original words in a proper sequence.
The biblical Psalms contain 20 different music notations which have only recently been deciphered. That is for the Hebrew; however a study of those notations, might shed light on better music for the English translation by providing a better understanding of what David intended.
John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav) who also writes the LCG Scribe blog has started a new blog on the original music of the scriptures. which may be of help in exposing brethren to some of the biblcial music of the paslms and other scriptures.
Psalms in the Synagogue
David mentions the synagogue in the psalms, and the synagogues were doubtless existing from at least the days of Joshua.
I believe that Joshua would have set up a system of educating the people in the national religion, based on the commandments of Moses to diligently teach the people.
As soon as the people spread over the land and could not visit the tabernacle each Sabbath, a method of instructing the people in both scripture and reading, writing and arithmetic became essential.
Now I am not saying that the synagogue did not fall into disuse during periods of apostasy, but it did exist during the periods of the good kings like David.
Later with the apostasy of the nation, the synagogue fell into disuse until it was revived by Ezra and Nehemiah in the restoration of Jerusalem and true religion.
Jesus would have learned to read and learned the scripture along with other children in the synagogue, and he was such an avid student that he impressed the doctors of the law [the Pharisees like Gamaliel] at the tender age of 12.
It should be noted that unlike the modern COG service, the synagogue Sabbath service did not usually include the singing of psalms.
Instead the Sabbath service was opened with the elder [rabbi] asking someone to recite a prayer which was chanted in a melodic fashion.
The “Shema” Deu 6:4 being recited; the elder would then ask someone from the congregation to read from the scripture, the lesson of the day, and then another reader if the passage was lengthy. The scripture would be read verse by verse with the assembly responding and repeating each verse.
God’s way of worship was an educational forum for his people!
This was followed by the elder asking someone in the congregation to expound the lesson [this being equivelent to today's sermonette]. The elder then might then expound further on the same subject, and the assembly [synagogue ] would conclude with a prayer.
The Psalms were written for Temple service, during the three times in the year, when all the nation was to gather before God at his Temple.
The Psalms were Special Music for the Festivals which included: praise, rejoicing, exuberant dancing, instructive lyrics and exhortations to righteousness.
In modern times, with the Temple destroyed, and God dwelling in his called out: We ARE the Temple of God! We are also the called out priesthood of Melchizedek; and wherever two or three are gathered together in his name (by his command or authority) Christ has promised to be amongst us, Mat 18:20.
In further explanation of the spiritual aspects of the New Covenant, Paul commands us to always have a psalm on our minds and in our hearts. Eph 5:19, Col 3:16 and James in Jas 5:13.
That also would certainly apply to any High Day, or Sabbath, or Festival, or New Moon, or Bible Study etc.
In light of these facts there should be no argument against the singing of psalms in services.
Music in the service today
I do not think that special music during which the attention of people is on the performer and not necessarily on God is appropriate.
I suggest that the Sabbath service should have full congregational participation in music and song. That means a group singing of psalms, but it does not prevent a talented singer from leading the psalms, or talented musicians accompanying the singing. The Sabbath service is a service for all and not a talent show.
I do believe that there is plenty of time for special music at talent shows [talent shows can be serious spiritual occasions, as well as merely FUN occasions], for the Feasts, New Moons, other Bible Studies and other occasions.
I also believe that special music can be an accompaniment to congregational singing on Sabbath and high days. And I would be a big fan of having a spiritual dance with Psalm music and singing during the Spring and Fall Feasts instead of ballroom dancing etc.
I do not believe that applause, or shouts of praise are appropriate for Sabbath services. But in a rejoicing environment of spiritual dance and song at the Feasts, it would be appropriate to applaud after a jubilant song and dance.
In conclusion: I believe that the Psalms whould be taken in their fullness and new music should be written that compliments whole Psalms; without the changing or deleting of much of the Psalm to fit our traditional religious music style.
I strongly suggest that the various groups set up a joint committee of talented folks to write music that is appropriate and complimentary to the full Psalms as they are written in the scripture, and then for these organizations to bring their talented people to perform and record this music for the brethren to have in their homes and for public offering.
How can this matter doctrinally? if they are only composing music and not lyrics?
Music at Sabbath services should include the whole congregation and not be a show.
The Feasts should be full of rejoicing and music praising God and teaching his wonders as well as joyful dance to our God.
Studies through the Wisdom Books should be made in Bible Studies and on Sabbath services, since they are a vital part of Holy Scripture