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Daily Devotional | Sing to the Lord | Music in the Bible | A music score on a blue background. Daily Devotional | Sing to the Lord | Music in the Bible | A music score

Daily Devotional | Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs

Over the history of the church, there have been many different types of songs of faith. From chant and organum, where one or more voices are added to a plainchant melody, to chorales, from hymns to modern songs, the church has different genres to identify styles and eras of songs.

Today, we will focus on one verse in which Paul designates three types of songs for God’s people: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (also in Col. 3:16). Much has been made about what these mean and what they meant for the early church. In short, no one knows for sure. But one thing is for certain: the psalms are psalms. Meaning, the early Christians (including Paul) knew that the psalms were part of God’s Word along with the writings of Moses (the Torah), the prophets, and other books in our Old Testament today.

When we see a call to sing and address one another with psalms, we can be sure that it is indeed a call for our local churches to sing lyrics straight from or based on the psalms. And when we do, what a blessing it can be! The resurrected Jesus told His disciples that “everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). When we sing the psalms, we sing Christ and the Word.

What about hymns and spiritual songs? The Greek word for hymns refers to a song of praise or ode to a god. If so, hymns can be seen as song lyrics that give praise and honor to God, honor to Christ. Spiritual songs may imply more personal songs of the human spirit connecting to a divine power. And the psalms contain both: songs praising who God is and giving Him honor with personal emotions and language directed to Him.

Go Deeper

What are the three types of music Paul identifies? Can you think of any examples of these that we use in modern-day worship?

Pray with Us: What a joy it is to trace ways and patterns of worship in both Old and New Testaments this month! It’s a privilege, Lord, to lift up Your name with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

BY Brian Lee

Dr. Brian Lee is a professor of Music at Moody Bible Institute. He serves in music ministry at Maranatha Bible Church in Chicago and is an active classical pianist as a soloist and chamber musician. He earned a doctorate from The Juilliard School and has been invited as a guest artist, adjudicator, masterclass teacher at many institutions, competitions, and festivals. He and his wife, Helen, are the parents of three sons.

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