John MacArthur on church music/worship/praise/songs

Writers of praise choruses and other modern church music too often forget the biblically mandated didactic role of church music. Most modern praise choruses are written to stir only the feelings. They are too often sung like a mystical mantra — with the deliberate purpose of putting the intellect into a passive state while the worshiper musters as much emotion as possible.

If music’s proper function includes “teaching and admonishing,” then music in the church ought to be much more than an emotional stimulant. In fact, this means music and preaching should have the same aim. Both properly pertain to the proclamation of God’s Word. The songwriter ought therefore to be as skilled in Scripture and as concerned for theological precision as the preacher; even more so, because the songs he or she writes are likely to be sung again and again (unlike a sermon that is preached only once).
I fear this perspective is utterly lost on the average church musician these days. As Leonard Payton has observed, “So extreme is the case now that anyone who knows half a dozen chords on a guitar and can produce rhymes to Hallmark card specifications is considered qualified to exercise this component of the ministry of the Word regardless of theological training and examination.”

— from “With Hearts and Minds and Voices” by John MacArthur.

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