Saturday, June 24, 2017

Getting Started Musically part 1  


Getting Started Musically part 1    

            The next three posts are taken from an unpublished monograph “Finding Truth in a World of Musical Deception” by Rachelle Wolf and is used here by permission.  Ms. Wolf holds a BA in Christian Music ed. From God’s Bible College and an MM in violin performance from Miami University.  She is an experienced string teacher, is Suzuki certified and  is an elementary and secondary Christian School music educator.  The thoughts for the day are mine. GLW

            The first musical experiences that we have take place in the home. Children derive their first tidbits of knowledge from their homes, from their parents. They determine likes and dislikes, they develop appreciations, they learn to hear and internalize information.  A child will follow the example they see in their authority figures, and music is no exception. For this reason I believe that it is imperative that parents instill an appreciation for music in the lives of their children.  “The first three years are the most critical for musical stimulation...Each year after that is critical, but the effect on nurturing the musical aptitude is a little less than the previous year... How clearly you are able to hear and respond to tunes at age nine is approximately the same as how clearly you’re able to hear tunes as a grownup.”  Fuller, C. How to Grow a Young Music Lover: Helping Your Child Discover and Enjoy the World. Wheaton, Illinois: Harold Shaw Pub, Colorado 1994, p.11. 

            I began taking music lessons at a very young age and I am also a violin teacher, and I have seen firsthand the necessity of parent involvement in a child’s education. “We would do well to review Deuteronomy 6:7, which instructs us to use every opportunity to teach children the commandments of God. We are to impress them on our children. We are to discuss them when we are at home, as we walk along the road, when we lie down, and when we get up.”   Menconi, A. . Communicating Spiritual Values Through Christian Music (Helping Families Grow). Elgin, Illinois: Chariot Family Pub.,1991, p5.   

Thought for the Day

The statement in Proverbs 22:6  “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Is primarily referenced to parents.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Be Strong in the Lord part 2 


Be Strong in the Lord part 2 

            It is a wonderful reality that Christian is able to remain strong in the Lord not only once when he or she passes from death unto life when the grace of God is applied to that person’s soul but also time and time again as daily the grace of God is applied to that Christian’s soul.  We not only need the unmerited favor of God applied to our hearts when we come to him as repentant sinners, but  we are in need of God’s grace every day that we live and work for Him.  Paul reassures Timothy that this continual grace of Christ is able to make us able to be strong no matter whatever we have to face.

            Paul reminds Timothy that the Christian will be called upon to endure hardness and that time of trouble the Christian is able to escape any entanglements of Satan that would keep that “soldier” from pleasing God.  These verses are a wonderful reminder to Christians that they do not have to live a life of entanglement and defeat.  Christian musician must learn that Christ has called us to be faithful soldiers.  So, we should stop whining about “hardness” and trials and get busy doing the will of God for our lives.

Thought for the Day

The thought that permeates Paul’s discussion of the grace of God is that it is the grace of Christ Jesus that makes us strong as we face “hardness as a good soldier” rather than our own strength.














Thursday, June 22, 2017

Be Strong in the Lord part 1


Be Strong in the Lord part 1

            2Timothy 2:1-4, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.   And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”  These four verses in St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy contain wonderful promises and admonitions for Christian musicians today.  As I read these verses today, the thought of the great grace of God brought joy to my heart.  The Greek word charis (5485) means the act of divine influence of God upon the soul of a believer.

            Although charis is used in a number of applications in the NT, it is generally understood to mean, in most instances, the grace of God wrought upon the believer’s heart rather than gratitude which some modern translators mistakenly translate.  Certainly the heart and mind of the believer who has received his unmerited favor of God is without doubt filled with gratitude, but the meaning of God’s grace is much more meaningful than mere gratitude.

Thought for the Day

It isn’t our gratitude, although it is vitally important, but rather God’s Grace that makes us to be able to be overcomers.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Levite Administration-part 4


Levite Administration-part 4

            From verses six and seven of chapter twenty-five we see that the various members of the 288 musicians were instructed in the following:  Songs of the Lord, cymbals, psalteries, and harps.  Furthermore, verse seven tells us that all 288 were cunning (995) or could teach or perceive concerning music.  Verse eight refers to the 288 musicians as teachers and scholars.  As we can see from the explicitness of the scripture, the Levite musicians were organized.  I Chronicles fifteen gives the specific job of each of the musicians:  verse nineteen names three leaders (chiefs), vocalists, and cymbal sounders; verse twenty names eight psaltery (lyre) players; verse twenty-one names six harp players.  The words alamoth and sheminith give specific instructions as to how the instruments were to be played.  Finally, verse twenty-two mentions another leader "And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song:  he instructed about the song, because he was skillful."  Various writers have made conjecture that he was a voice teacher or a choral director.

            The significance of this ancient Temple Levite administration is that it shows a very high level of development and organization.  Over the years I have been surprised at the number of Christian musicians who were so independent that they could not, or would not, work with others in a Christian organization.  As one of my former music professors used to say, “Some musicians have to be the bell sheep or they refused to be a sheep at all”.  It is a shame that so many Christian musicians have failed to understand that there is strength in numbers and there is great strength in organization and community of musicians.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Levite Administration-part 3


Levite Administration-part 3

            I Chronicles 23:1-2 states, "When David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son King over Israel.  And he gathered together all the princes of Israel, with the priests and the Levites."  In chapter twenty-five of 1 chronicles we see a complex organization of church music.  Verse one states, "Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals. . ."  Some writers believe that the term "captain of the hosts" means the chief of the Levites.  If this is so, perhaps Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun--all chief of Levites--helped King David set up the organization mentioned in verses eight through thirty-one.  It should be pointed out to avoid confusion that the Jeduthun mentioned above is generally believed to be synonymous with the name Ethan of I Chronicles 6:44, and 15:17 and 19, whose father was Kishi (Kushaiah).  Another Ethan mentioned in I Chronicles 6:42 was the son of Zimmah.  We do not have record of the father of Jeduthun, but the name Ethan was only used these two times in conjunction with Asaph and Heman.  All the rest of the times (which were many more) the trio is recorded as Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun.

            At any rate, as we discussed earlier, these three chief Levites in I Chronicles twenty-five were the scholars under whom a complex system of twenty-four divisions was organized, each division consisting of twelve vocalists and instrumentalists, separated by lot and totaling 288 musicians in all.  Furthermore, we can hypothesize that the six sons of Jeduthun, the fourteen sons of Heman (notice no daughters are mentioned in verses 8-31), and the four sons of Asaph made up the leaders of the twenty-four divisions and were leaders of a second degree--each having eleven students.  A study of Levite Music Administration shows that there were chief musicians, teachers (the sons of Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman) and a number of sons of each chief musicians, and that these students and teachers were divided into lots.




Monday, June 19, 2017

Levite Administration-part 2


Levite Administration-part 2

            I Chronicles 16:5 also shows the order and chain of command of the Levite musicians.  "Asaph the chief (7218) , and next (mishneh 4932) to him Zechariah, Jeiel, and Shemiramoth, and Jehiel, and Mattithiah, and Eliab, and Benaiah, and Obededom:  and Jeiel with psalteries and with harps; but Asaph made a sound with cymbals."  This example show their rank.  Asaph was chief and the rest were "next" or mishna which means of the second rank.  Note that this organization specified that the Levites of second rank would play melodic musical instruments and that Asaph the conductor would sound or direct with the cymbals.

            I Chronicles 15:16-24 is another example of Levite music organization.  Verse sixteen states, "And David spake to the chief (8269) of the Levites to appoint (amad 5975) their brethren to be singers with instruments of music. . ." and verse seventeen continues, "So the Levites appointed (5975) Heman. . .Asaph. . .and Ethan. . ." and verse eighteen "And with them their brethren of the second (4932) degree. . ."All of these musicians as well as the students mentioned in chapter twenty-five of I Chronicles were all under these three chief musicians.  It would seem there could be little doubt that the chronicler is stressing the organization, excellence, and administration of the Levite musicians.  The example left for us is that everyone had a rank and a job and as far as we know they worked together in harmony without one single complaint recorded in scripture.




Sunday, June 18, 2017

Levite Administration-part 1


Levite Administration-part 1

            Although we do not know all the significance of the order and organization imposed on the Levite musicians, we do know from scripture that they were accustomed to a high degree of organization.  I Chronicles 6:32-48 tells us of some of that organization when it states in verse thirty-two, "And they ministered before the dwelling place of the tabernacle of the congregation with singing, until Solomon had built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem:  and they waited on their office according to their order (misphat 4941) ."  Misphat means a formal decree giving this statement the import that their placement was of importance to the program of organization.

            Verses thirty-three to forty-four tell us that Heman the singer stood in the middle and Asaph stood on his right side and Ethan on his left.  Evidently they stood in their respective positions with their sons or brethren (vs. 33 and 44).  We are not informed as to why they stood in this order, but it was important enough for the chronicler to record.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

“The Devil should not have all the best tunes”


“The Devil should not have all the best tunes”

            This much used, and may I assert, overused quote, was not a fact at the time it was made and is still not an accurate reflection of the whole of all of the melodies ever written.  Those who still perpetuate the erroneous notion that Satan has had or now has control of “all” of the “best tunes” are simply unaware of the whole of music tunes that have ever been written. 

            Perhaps this erroneous notion is still perpetuated because so many Christian musicians are unaware of what an “excellent melody” actually is.  For his reason, it is essential that every Christian who makes musical decisions for his or her Christian organization must have a thorough understanding of music theory so that one can have the tools necessary to make such decisions.  Also, when one studies the history of secular and sacred music history it becomes apparent that for centuries, at least in Western Music, a great majority of the most excellent melodies that have been composed over many centuries are written in music styles that are God honoring.

            I would readily admit that this does not encompass the whole of Western Music or World Music.  Satan has most certainly had many of these melodies written under his influence.  However, although Satan has had a powerful influence over music in the 20th and now in the 21st century, he has not dominated the whole of music historically, and he has not dominated the whole of music in the twentieth century or even this new century!  Praise God, there are still composers “…who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.”

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ideas about the Psalms


Ideas about the Psalms

1.                  Moses gave Israel 5 books of Torah (Law)
David et. al. gave Israel 5 books of Sepher Tehillim   
2.                  The Division of the Psalter into 5 books is strictly a man made contrivance. 
3.                  The Psalms for the most part are not connected in any real way. 
4.                  David only wrote about half of the Book of Psalms.  (73 in total) 
5.                  The Psalms are the production of many author-poet-musicians-composers. 
            6.                  Psalms with no inscription                 24
             Psalms with David’s name                 74
Psalms with Asaph’s name                              12
Psalms of the sons of Korah                            10
Hallelujah Psalms                                            10
Psalms (or songs) of Degrees                          10
Psalms with Solomon’s name                           2
Heman’s Psalm                                                  1
Ethan’s Psalm                                                    1
Psalms with inscriptions but no name               6
Moses’ Psalm                                                    1
          total      150

7.                  The author of the Book of Psalms is The Blessed Holy Spirit. 
8.                  It is generally believed that the Psalter was formed gradually. 
9.                  Tradition generally considers that Ezra made the final recension of the Psalms about 450 B.C. 
10.              The notion that some of the Psalms were from Maccabean authors is spurious. 
11.              Only the Psalms that were considered divinely inspired were added to the collection. 
12.              The “imprecatory” psalms are probably the most misunderstood. 
13.              The Titles or Inscriptions of the psalms.  Some believe that Ezra added the inscription to the Psalms when he made his recension of the Psalms.  There is no reason to believe that he “made them up” but rather that he found them in the ancient text. 
14.              There have been serious attempts to discredit the inscriptions as spurious additions of an even later date than the time of Ezra.  To my knowledge there is no evidence to support such a theory.   

15.              Inscriptions are of at least three types:

1.                  Those which mark musical or liturgical character

2.                  Those which assign a particular or general author(s)

3.                  Those which designate the particular circumstances under which the     psalm was composed 

16.              The Book of Psalms is the oldest extant collection of mono-thistic poetry in the world today.  

17.              The Book of Psalms (as poetry) is respected by saints and sinners alike.  It is a great collection of poetry. 

18.              The Book of Psalms is the only complete collection of plenarily inspired sacred songs that have ever been given to the Church.






Thursday, June 15, 2017

WHY WAS DAVID ULTIMATELY SUCCESSFUL? Part 2


WHY WAS DAVID ULTIMATELY SUCCESSFUL? Part 2

            What was the difference between Saul and David?  Spence  put it this way.  "Saul was a man's man, David was God's."  The major difference seemed to be their very different attitudes toward God.  Saul disobeyed God by taking Agag the Amalekite king alive and by saving the best of the animals.  When the prophet Samuel faced him with the problem Saul lied when he said (I Sam. 15:13b) "I have performed the commandment of the LORD."  When the prophet Nathan faced David with his sin of adultery, David replied (II Sam. 12:13) ". . .I have sinned against the LORD."  As we can see, both men faced times of failure in their lives, but it seems that it was the difference in their attitudes that made the difference.

            So, the distinguishing difference between Saul and David was their attitudes toward God.  Both men made serious mistakes, but David admitted that he had sinned and that he need God’s forgiveness and cleansing.  David was successful because he sought God’s forgiveness rather than trying to rationalize his way out of his sin and mistake.  It is one thing for a Christian to make a mistake and thereby fall into sin, but it is another for that musician to try to rationalize his or her way out of that error.  So, if you need God’s forgiveness and cleansing, do not take the easy way out.  It isn’t a musician’s mistakes that ultimately control his or her destiny, but rather it is one’s relationship  and attitude toward God that will determine his or her ultimate success at the end of that musician’s life.