Music and the Arts In Biblical Worship

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

Biblical Philosophy of the Worship Arts

Throughout the history of the Christian church, worship has made use of the fine arts as vehicles for bringing glory to God and for augmenting the worshiper's awareness of the presence of God. In considering the biblical foundations for Christian worship, therefore, it is appropriate to give attention to the biblical perspective on the arts, as explained in these five entries.


  1. The Worship Arts In Biblical Perspective
  2. The Visual Arts In Worship
  3. Music as a Worship Art
  4. Movement Arts In Worship
  5. The Literary Arts

Music In Israelite Worship

In these five entries we find that song and instrumentation played a vital part in biblical worship. In ancient times, as today, music was an important way of approaching the mystery of God and of expressing the joy of being in God's presence.

  1. The Problem of Biblical Musicology
  2. Music In Israelite Communities
  3. Music In the Temple
  4. Music In the Synagogue
  5. Style of Israelite Music

Music In New Testament Worship

These four entries explain that the New Testament Scriptures do not treat music and musical instrumentation extensively, they contain important references to music in primitive Christianity. And, on the basis of these references, we may develop a general outline of the use of music in early Christian worship.

  1. Music Making In the New Testament
  2. Supernatural and Eschatological References to Music
  3. Temple and Synagogue Worship In Early Christianity
  4. The Philosophy of Music In the New Testament

Musical Instruments In Scripture

The Bible frequently mentions musical instruments in association with the praise of the Lord. The following six entries explain that percussion, wind, and string instruments each had their place in the worship of the people of God.

  1. Scriptural References to Instruments (Biblical)
  2. Percussion Instruments (Biblical)
  3. Wind Instruments (Biblical)
  4. Stringed Instruments (Biblical)
  5. The Sanctuary Orchestra (Biblical)
  6. Symbolism of Instrumentation (Biblical)

Psalms In Biblical Worship

The Psalms contain in miniature the whole of God's covenantal dealings with his people in a form that speaks directly from heart to heart. Because they are poems of worship, they have been called "the prayer book of the Bible. " Within the framework of doxology, which is built into the structure of the collection itself, the Psalms praise, give thanks, petition, curse, and tell stories, employing a variety of structures and techniques along the way. In every period of the life of both Israel and the church, the Psalms have been employed in worship and regarded as indispensable. The following seven entries expand these themes further.

  1. The Importance of the Psalms (Biblical)
  2. Authorship and Origin of the Psalms (Biblical)
  3. Structure of the Book of Psalms (Biblical)
  4. Poetic and Musical Features of the Psalms (Biblical)
  5. Classification of the Psalms (Biblical)
  6. The Covenant In the Psalms of Petition, Part 1 (Biblical)
  7. The Covenant In the Psalms of Petition, Part 2 (Biblical)
  8. The Covenant In the Psalms of Celebration, Part 1 (Biblical)
  9. The Covenant In the Psalms of Celebration, Part 2 (Biblical)

Hymns In New Testament Worship

The following three entries discuss how hymns may be identified in the literature of the New Testament. These hymns express the developing convictions of the Christian church, particularly the Christological confession that sets God the Son alongside God the Father, resulting in the praise of Jesus Christ.

  1. Christological Psalms (Biblical)
  2. The Setting of Hymns In the Greco-Roman World (Biblical)
  3. The Significance of Hymns to Christ (Biblical)

Dance and Banners In Worship

Recent years have seen a resurgence of the practice of "dancing before the Lord" as a form of worship. The activity known as "dancing in the Spirit" has long been a part of Pentecostal worship, and with the growth of charismatic churches dancing began to be encouraged as a response to the scriptural invitation to praise the Lord in this manner. More recently, the worship of God through ballet, folk, interpretive, and other forms of dance has found expression in church bodies across the Christian spectrum. The following four entries are a discussion of the scriptural basis for worship dance.


  1. Dance In the Old Testament
  2. Dance In the New Testament
  3. Biblical Dance and Contemporary Worship
  4. Banners In Worship (Biblical)