Developing Doctrine from Hear-say
The following quote was spoken as truth by my cousin's husband at the "Indiana Meetings" of 2012. "If you disagree with me you are being rebellious and that proves you should do what I say!" What was he talking about? He was speaking about how unholy anything other than A-Capella is. Just before he said this he was encouraging the youths of the meetings to give up music for one week, just to see if they felt better after a week long fast.
"Legalism" defined: "Raising man's laws to the same level as God's laws."
The history of music in the conservative Mennonite and Anabaptist groups is really interesting! In Zurich, where ALL the conservative Mennonites originated, there was a big catholic cathedral. The music of this cathedral was renown, not only for how well they put on performances, but for what they sang in worship. See, they not only used instruments in worship, they also set secular ballads to Latin and sang those during worship! The Anabaptists of Zurich were so offended by this that they not only banned musical instruments in church, but they also banned congregational singing! http://www.thirdway.com/menno/?Page=1891|The+origins+of+Anabaptist+worship
Did you know that Bill Gothard believes in alternative medicine? He believed in it so strongly that he bought into the Asian idea of certain electrical impulses being bad for you. He went to the extent of putting a huge magnet under his bed to change his physiological and electrical wellbeing. Sounds crazy doesn't it!
What does this have to do with Music? Glad you asked. Bill Gothard is the guy who gave Mennonites the ammunition to ban music that they did not grow up with. It gave them the ammunition to ban music just because a certain group used it at one point. Bill Gothard was also the guy who said that the syncopated beat is wrong because it changes electrical impulses!
A lot of Mennos believe that any music that is not acapella and that does not use a 4/4, 3/4 or 2/3 non-syncopated beat is of Satan! They do not look at history. If they would they would realize that it was the Catholics (GASP!) that they were looking to for their view on the history of music. Once again we find the Mennonites hanging onto Catholic beliefs. Incidentally, even rock stars say that the 4/4 beat is what humans were born to listen to and that it is the best beat!
Another lapse in the logic is in regard to 3/4 timing. Mennonites seem to have forgotten the history of this timing. 3/4 timing is actually known by another name. THE WALTZ!
One argument perpetuated by Menno legalistic robots (sorry, but that is what many of you are!) is the idea that because parts of a particular type of music originated in Africa and was used at times to call demons, that all music with that type of beat is wrong. There is a problem with this thinking. This would also mean that singing with only the vocal cords is wrong because the Celtic druids only used acapella to call the demons. (They later used only the voice and harps.)
Before you try to say that only silence is holy because the voice has been used inappropriately, think about this. Zen Buddhism uses ONLY silence to worship.
The history of Jewish Music.Now, take a look at this!
The following is a complete quote from “The Music of the Synagogue.”“Biblical sources, while not too informative, are yet sufucuently revealing as to the form of service in the First Tempple. He would offer sacrifices (minute details of this function are related in Leviticus, he would bless the people, and on the day of Atonement he would confess his sins, the sins of his household, and those of all Israel.The levites would sing appropriate psalms, and an orchestra of carried instruments, such as harps, the shofar, trumpets, pipes, flutes and cymbals were heard. The minimum number of instruments employed at the Temple Service, as well as the singing of Levites, was twelve (Psalm 150), (Mishnah Arachin II). Tradition has it that the nucleus of our prayers, such as the Blessing of the Shema, the Geulah, the Avodah, certain Benedictions, and the Ten Commandments were already used in the Service of the First Temple.After his return from Babylonian exile, Ezra reinstituted the Service in the Second Temple. Of this Service, the records are more abundant. Here the Priestly recitations included the Ahavah Rabah, Benedictions of the Amidah, Sim Halom, the Hallel, etc. (These may be referred to in the Prayer Books).The musical part of the Service was announced by the sound of the pipe organ. The blowing of the trumpet was followed by the sounds of the cymbal, all of this serving as a prelude for the daily psalm and parts of the Pentateuch sung by the Levites. The latter, by the way were trained musicians who, between the ages of 25 and 30, received vocal and musical instrumentation and were on active singing duty until the age of 50. To add melodic sweetness to the Service, the choir was augmented by the voices of young boys. At the conclusion of each musical phrase, the Priests would blow the trumpets and the worshippers pros[t]rated themselves.The Service in the Second Temple was democratized to the extent that the people participated in the singing of refrains: such as the Hoshanoh, Halleluyah, Aneinu, and Ki L’olom Chasdo, and in the responsive chanting of certain Psalms. The people bringing sacrifices were required to recite benedictions over them.”
The following quote is from http://www.hebrewhistory.info/factpapers/fp008_music.htm
So, Jesus and the disciples worshiped with instruments. Gasp! Hear people claiming I am heretic for saying such a thing!“The Bible offers the richest repertory of musical instruments extant in ancient literature.Musical instruments are classified into aerophones (which produce music by the forceful passage of air); chordophones which produce music with the vibration of taut strings); idiophones and their cousins the membranophones (which produce music by scraping, beating, clapping or jingling).The biblical aerophone catalogue includes the woodwinds: alamoth, chalil, mahol, masrochit, neginoth, negev, sumphania, ugab; the horns: trumpet, shofar, geren and yobel; and the organ: the magrephah.The Chalil (chalalu) was one of the most beloved of biblical aerophones. Its very name is an endearing one from the Hebrew root word for "sweet." The Talmud is explicit about its origin: The pipe is called the chalil because its sound is so sweet."The chalil was a double reed pipe whose counterpart is the oboe. The instrument was introduced into Egypt from Canaan during the two centuries of the so-called "Second Intermediate Period," in which six successive Semitic kings ruled Egypt (17th-15th c. bce. One king was named Jacob!)The Greeks adopted the chalil and its name. Lacking the hard ch sound, and adding the Greek ending os, they transcribed chalalu into aulos!The magrephah, the original organ, is described in the Talmud (Arachin tractate) as a bellows-operated pipe-organ with ten different sized reed-pipes, all pierced with ten holes and keyed to a reverberatory box. The magrephah emitted "all the hundred sounds of which our rabbis speak."The Babylonian Bible (Tamid tractate), describes one of its uses: A Levite musician "took the Magrephah and sounded it¼ The priest who heard its sound knew that his brother Levites had entered to sing, and he hastened to come."The destruction of the Second Temple brought about a ban on the use in services of musical instruments giving forth "joyful sounds." Among the many Judaic musical practices the Christians carried on was the use of the organ. Ironically, some early church fathers campaigned to ban the use of this "Jewish instrument" because it would seduce Christians to the ‘hated religion’" – Judaism!Biblical chordophones include the lyres: Asor, kinnor (David’s "harp" was really a lyre), susan and qatros’ the harps: gittit, nebel; the lutes: neginoth, sabhah; the zither: pesanter. There was also the shemineth, and instruments called minnim (translating to "stringed instruments"), of which little is known.The lyre, lute, and harp were, like the Chalil, introduced into Egypt by Semites. Such an event was immortalized on the wall of a tomb of an Egyptian baron. 37 Semitic traders, artisans and musicians are shown arriving with a lyre, metalworking tools, and rare goods. The chieftain of the group is identified hieroglyphically by the name Abushei (also the name of one of David’s head generals).The lyre was favored by the Greeks. They adopted the instrument and its name from the Jews, transliterating kinnor to kinyra. The 10-stringed lyre, the nebel, became the Greek psalterion (psaltery).The idiophones are represented in the Bible by he cymbals: meziltaim, tzilzlim, selselim; the sistrums (metal rattles): shalishum; and other rattles: Menaaneim; bells: paanonim, mezillot. Related membranophones include drums and timbrels, such as the biblical top.The word "drum" is a curious example of the process by which Hebrew musical terms infiltrated western languages. Top (plural tuppim), is a vocal simulation of the sound produced by beating a taut-skinned instrument. The Hebrew root is easily discerned in the early Greek work typanon, and in its later form tympanon. From the Greek the word insinuated into the Latin tympanum, and ends in the English words timbrel, tambourine, tabret, and timbre. Along the way the word detours into the Low German trumme, the Dutch trommel and drummel, and enters English as drum.As trumme passes into Middle High German it is confused with the word for a wind instrument – it passes from trumme into Old High German as trumba and trumpa, arriving into English as trumpet!Cymbals were used to mark the beginning, endings and pauses in the biblical chapters as they were sung. The use of cymbals were replaced by finger-signs, which in turn became imitated in writing and formed the first written notation system.”
Oh wait a second, look at the company you keep!
After the fall of the First Temple, The Rabbis took pains to eradicate both its choral and instrumental traditions. "Their time had arrived, and their ideas on liturgy and music were radically different from those of the Temple priests." Werner finds it paradoxical that modern day rabbis continue to praise the instrumental music of the Temple but prohibit any and all instrumental music in their synagogues today.” - Wikipedia quote referenced to Werner, Eric. The Sacred Bridge, Columbia Univ. Press (1984)
Honestly folks, stop trying to force your opinion on history, let history tell you what people did. Don't like drums? Well don't force your hatred of an inanimate object onto other people because they could do the same thing and force the drum on you because they feel it is wrong not to be doing things the way they were done in the beginning.
A good book on the subject.
All the Music of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, 1968
One more point. Many of the A-Capella songs the Conservative Mennonites use in church were considered sacrilegious at the time they were written! Don't believe me? Do some research for yourself!
Next week: Which is more spiritual, the Scroll or the Book?