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Instrumental Music in the Worship of God

James Dodson

Organs and instrumental music belong to Papists. They are the "strange gifts" of Arminian revivalism smuggled into the Reformed churches.

Organs and instrumental music belong to Papists. They are the "strange gifts" of Arminian revivalism smuggled into the Reformed churches.


"While many who employ [the organ] consider themselves the verychampions of Protestantism, it will be long, long indeed, before they uproot Popery by this regulator of choirs; and while nothing has ever proved more annoying to Papists than the singing of Psalms in a congregational manner, the playing of all the heretical organs in Christendom causes to them comparatively little sorrow. On the contrary, the cross surmounting a Protestant meeting house, and the swelling tones of the organ within, give to her sons the hope that “holy mother” may yet receive these errorists, who are, at least, so far rejoicing under her shadow, and becoming familiar with her “image and superscription.”"—Alexander Blaikie, The Philosophy of Sectarianism (1854).




An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons Assembled in Parliament, for the further demolishing of Monuments of Idolatry and Superstition.-1644-The Parliament.-An Act authorizing the removal of all things which violate the Scriptural, or Regulative, principle of worship from all houses of worship throughout England. This included all the liturgical garb, furniture pictures of Jesus or the Trinity together with the removal of all musical instruments.

 An Essay Upon the Sacred Use of Organs in Christian Assemblies.-1713-Anonymous.-A very instructive essay which explains the rise of the use of musical instruments and the reason their use was discontinued in the best Reformed churches.

A Catechism on Praise.-1849-Alexander Blaikie (1804-1885).-An Associate Reformed Presbyterian minister defends the practice of a cappella psalmody by way of catechetical exercises.

Protest Against the Use of Instrumental Music in the Stated Worship of God on the Lord's Day.-1851-Robert J. Breckinridge (1800-1871).-A Southern Presbyterian decries the use of organs in Presbyterian churches and vows never to speak in a church that has one. He discusses the theological reasons for holding to a strict non-instrumentalist position.

Liturgies, Instrumental Music and Architecture.-1855-Thomas E. Peck (1822-1893).-This article was written to explain why it is that Presbyterians reject pomp and circumstance in the worship of God. It is a helpful overview of the issue of liturgies, music instruments and the often little considered matter of church architecture.

General Principles Touching the Worship of God.-1855-Thomas E. Peck (1822-1893).-Another essay examining the Regulative principle of worship and addressing the issue of musical instruments in more detail.

Alexander Hislop's Appendix on The Instrumental Music of Judaism.-1858-Alexander Hislop (1807-1865).-An appendix which discusses the use of musical instruments in the church with an eye toward Jewish usage.

Discourse on Scripture Psalmody in Praising God; and Against Instrumental Music in Public Worship.-1859-Hugh Brown.-Two discourse on purity of worship. The first examines and defends the exclusive use of the inspired Psalms in the praise of the church; the second explains why the use of instrumental music in the worship of God is not warranted under the New Testament.

The Organ Question.-1868-W. Robertson.-This pamphlet is the substance of two lectures given in connection with the agitation by some in order to introduce an organ into the worship of God.  In 1873, five years after these lectures, the pro-organ party carried the day and an organ was introduced into the worship of Coupland Street United Presbyterian Church, Manchester, England. Mr. Robertson's work is a testimony against this outrage.

A Discourse on Instrumental Music in Public Worship.-1871-Robert Johnson (1810-1879).-A extremely well reasoned defense of the anti-instrumentalist position in which he engages several well known objections and examines the plausibility of the arguments of those who would introduce these instruments into the worship of God.

PSALLO.-1882-William Wishart (1821-1906).-An article from the Evangelical Repository examining the claims of proponents of musical instruments in worship taken from the meaning of the Greek word PSALLO.  Dr. Wishart explains why PSALLO does not provide Biblical support for the use of mechanical instruments of worship.

Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church.-1888-John L. Girardeau (1825-1898)-This is one of the more thorough discussions of the question of the use of musical instruments in the worship of God.

Girardeau's "Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church."-1888-Robert L. Dabney (1820-1898).-A review wherein Dabney not only praises Girardeau's book but he adds a number of keen observations and insights into why instrumental music should be kept out of the public worship of God.