Baptists And Singing In The Church

I have often said that if I really backslide there are two books that I would have to avoid.The Bible book and the Hymn book.I love the Bible and the Baptist hymnal(there is a wealth of doctrine in both of these books).

Baptist history teaches us that Baptists have all but gone to war over music in the church.

In the 17th century,Baptists in England opposed the singing in worship and developed intricate arguments against what they called “a carnal exercise.”Some of these objections may have grown out of the fact that the noise of singing would call attention to Baptists meetings which were banned by English law.But even after the harsh laws against Baptists meeting in England were overturned some groups of Baptists continued to reject group singing.

Thomas Grantham,an English  Baptist pastor,fiercely opposed the singing of hymns in worship.Grantham conceded that the singing of Psalms or biblical texts in worship might be acceptable but he saw hymns as human innovations and called on Baptists not to use these questionable innovations in worship.After all,”set songs”were as bad as “set prayers.”

Grantham also opposed the use of “mixed voices”or “promiscuous singing” in worship,for the practice of congregational singing was not warranted in scripture and therefore must not be done.The problem was that the congregation might include some who were non-christians and thus the music polluted by their non-christian singing of Christian songs.

In addition,Grantham concluded that if a congregation did sing Psalms or biblical texts,that singing must be done as a solo.And of course,the solos must be done only by men,since women had to be silent in the church.

Other Baptists leaders were not as intense in their opposition,but like Grantham,they too noted that women should not take part in singing in the church.

Another Baptist pastor in England,Benjamin Keach,had a very different understanding of singing in worship and the use of hymns,and he helped English Baptists to see the value of congregational singing.

In 1673,he persuaded his church to sing a hymn at the close of the Lord’s Supper,allowing those who opposed this to leave before the singing began.Six years later,his church agreed to sing a hymn on public days of thanksgiving,and fourteen years after that his church agreed to sing a hymn as part of worship every Sunday.

In all,it took 20 years for him to convince his congregation that singing hymns was a worthwile addition to worship services.Even so,22 of his members left when the hymn singing was instituted and they joined a non-singing church.

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