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Wise reflections from Kevin DeYoung (part 1 / part 2), outlined below:

  1. Love is indispensable to church singing that pleases God.
  2. Our singing is for God's glory and the edification of the body of Christ.
  3. We ought to sing to the Lord new songs.
  4. Church singing should swim in its own history of church singing.
  5. Sing the Psalms.
  6. We should strive for excellence in the musicality and the poetry of the songs we sing.
  7. The main sound to be heard in the worship music is the sound of the congregation singing.
  8. The congregation should also be stretched from time to time to learn new songs and broaden its musical horizons.
  9. The texts of our songs should be matched with fitting musicality and instrumentation.
  10. All of our songs should employ manifestly biblical lyrics.

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8 thoughts on “10 Principles for Church Music”

  1. Craver-Vii says:

    #2) I agree that church music should be for God’s glory, but I think many believe (erroneously) that there is an option: God’s glory OR edification of the congregants.

    #7) I would think that the act of singing is more important than the process of hearing, so I don’t have a problem with loud instruments.

    1. Matthew says:

      Your take on #2 actually helps to explain your misunderstanding of #7.

      Singing is indeed for God’s glory and the congregations edification. But if the voices of the congregation cannot be heard, then the latter is truncated. The congregation is not edified simply because a room full of individuals sing to their hearts content. God is glorified and the congregation is edified as a room full of the body of Christ sings about the Glory of God and the gospel…both to God and to one another.

      When the congregation cannot be heard, their edification is hindered. One of the great means of grace is the way the gathered body sings the gospel to one another in worship. It has been said that a Christian needs to ‘preach the gospel to himself’. I think Kevin’s point here is that we also need to ‘sing the gospel to each other.’ I’m all for loud instruments and beats and electric guitars, but not so loud that I’m deprived of one of the great benefit of worshipping corporately.

  2. Jason Ewing says:

    I have been saddened when I hear churches that have a “traditional” service then a “contemporary” service so as to appeal to two types of audiences. When people ask, “What “kind” of service do you prefer? I am immediately dismissive of the question and turn the attention to the real problem at hand by asking, “Why do you think worship is for you?” For at the heart of our self centered-ness we have created a culture that feels that it has the right to choose and attend the kind of worship service that pleases them most. Kevin’s reflection’s are indeed wise to this end!

  3. Matthew says:


    Thank you for this post.

    Are you able to please elaborate and expound upon on point 3 for me?
    [3.We ought to sing to the Lord new songs.]


  4. Bob McDowell says:

    re #7: We should strive for congregational singing, sharing in praising God with our minds, hearts and voices. Instrumentation (if any) should be used to help the congregants to demonstrate their unity by singing as a unified body.

  5. Bob McDowell says:

    encore #7: D.A. Carson has an interesting take on special vs. congregational songwriting in Worship by the Book:
    “Britain, without much place for ’special music’ in corporate worship, does not have to feed a market driven by the search for more ’special music.’ Therefore, a great deal of intellectual and spiritual energy is devoted to writing songs that will be sung congregationally. This has resulted in a fairly wide production of new hymnody in more or less contemporary guise, some of it junk, some of it acceptable but scarcely enduring, and some of it frankly superb. By contrast, our addiction to ’special music’ means that a great deal of creative energy goes into supplying products for that market. Whether it is good or bad, it is almost never usable by a congregation. The result is that far more of our congregational pieces are dated than in Britain, or are no more than repetitious choruses” (p. 53). [HT: ]

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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