(pic credit: Michigan Morning ©2017 by Joshua Meyer. Used with permission)
Q: Sacraments… what is our experience with Sacraments in the Church?
Liturgical traditions have held for centuries that ‘Sacraments’ are a main-stay of the life and actions of a congregation.
Question 574 of the (Roman Catholic) Baltimore Catechism asks, ‘what is a Sacrament?’, and answers, “A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace”. Further into the discussion of Sacrament, it says that three elements are necessary for something to be considered a Sacrament: it is an outward or visible sign, the institution of that sign was by Christ Himself, and the giving of grace through the use of that sign is available.
However, this Catechism makes a significant error to say that there are only seven Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation (the impartation of the Holy Spirit), Holy Eucharist (Communion), Penance (Confession of Sin), Extreme Unction (Anointing of the Sick), Holy Orders (Ordination), and Matrimony (Marriage). It expends a great force of energy to say that this is a ‘closed concept’, and only seven Sacraments exist in Christ’s Church, period.
I would propose that there are eight Sacraments… and that the Eighth has always been with us.
Protestant and non-liturgical churches only practice Baptism, Communion, Marriage, and Ordination as ceremonial; the other activities are understood to have become part of an informal, on-going life-process of the individual, such as Confession of Sin and Anointing the Sick.
I would like to propose that, for centuries there has always been another ‘un-named’ Sacrament that has always been alive in the Church: The Sacrament of Sacred Song.
Q: Whadda ya think??
The Sacrament of Sacred Song reaches back into the Old Testament and was practiced by the Jews long before the time of Jesus in private and corporate adoration of God. Some writers have implied that Sacred Singing, the exercise of the Sacrament of Sacred Song, is commanded in the Scriptures. “Sing to the Lord” in ‘command-form’ (meaning ‘do it’) Hebrew is found 15 times in the Old Testament. Saint Paul in the New Testament commands us to “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord”
Since “…all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), a Biblical injunction to ‘Sing to the Lord’ would qualify as “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace”… a Sacrament.
When I say ‘sacred song’, I mean more than a singular tune with two verses, a chorus and a bridge. ‘Sacred Song’ is meant to encompass all the vastness of music, voices and instrumentation that is intentionally lifted to the Lord, in His Presence and for Him.
Sacred Song implies both the art/mechanics of music, as well as the intentions of a person or people making that music directed God-ward. It does mean that there is a difference between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ music; that idea is a whole discussion by itself…
Q: What has your experience been with music and song in the Church?
The early Church held to a number of Jewish traditions and practices as it emerged into its’ own praxis and liturgies. The Apostles and Jesus himself practiced in solid, God-Adoring liturgy as they went to synagouges and Jewish feasts. At the close of the Passover meal Jesus and the Disciples shared, which has become known to us as the ‘Lord’s Supper’, the Gospel narrative says that, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matt 26:30).
By the way, note that Jesus sang. Basically, Christ was affirming the Sacrament of Sacred Song that He initiated.
Jesus sang a Hebrew hymn with his disciples, traditionally the Passover ‘Hallell’, which every Jew was taught to sing as a child. Jesus and the disciples practiced the congregational Sacrament of Sacred Song. (For notes from Gills Exposition regarding the Matthew passage, see below in References).
Q: Ever heard a message about ‘Jesus singing’??
As the Disciples sang the ‘Hallell’, they would have been reminded of the many prophetic passages from the Psalms regarding the soon-to-be Passion of our Lord. Sacred Song can serve as a prophetic conduit for God to speak to His people.
Here is a chart of the Four Elements of the ‘Modern Protestant Liturgy’ across Christendom:
|Modern Protestant Liturgy Elements||Features|
|Song Service||Band/Musician/Vocalist-led Songs/Hymns/Chants
Congregation Singing Permitted/Desired
Prophetic Song (Charismatic/Pentecostal Traditions)
|Community Service||Artistic Presentations (Special Music, Theatre, Multi-Media)
Prayers (thanksgiving, intercessory, petitionary, liturgical responsorial singing)
|Oratatory Service||Preaching, Teaching, Instruction|
|Response and Service Closure||Congregational Taking Communion (w/ devotional singing)
Summary Prayers (repentance, dedication/commitment)
Congregational Response (raise hands, go forward, singing)
Closing Exhortation/Closing Song
Note the high-lighted points where the Sacrament of Sacred Song is practiced in Modern Protestant churches.
The Sacrament of Sacred Song is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.
Jesus sang Sacred Songs during His earthly life.
Sacred Song encompasses all music, voices and instrumentation intentionally lifted to the Lord, in His Presence and for Him.
We welcome you, O Eighth Sacrament of Sacred Song to your rightful consideration.
Certainly, music is one of God’s most interesting creations. We are told there is music in Heaven. We are shown that music is woven into the Scriptural adoration and worship of God.
Words can’t express the power that music has played in my life and walk with the Master Jesus.
AdoreTheLord.blog hopes to explore that mysterious and marvelous creation called music in the future.
written by crisbaj
© 2017 by crisbaj/AdoreTheLord.blog All rights reserved.
All Scripture references from New International Version unless otherwise indicated.
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REFERENCES AND NOTES
“Sing Unto the Lord” found in
1 Chron 16:23, 33
Ps 33: 1
Ps 68:4, 32
Ps 96:1, 2
Ps 98:1, 9
Commentary on the Singing of the Hallell from Gill’s Exposition of the Bible:
(quote) This “Hallell”, or song of praise, consisted of six Psalms, the 113th, 114th, 115th, 116th, 117th, and 118th (m)… then what they call the “blessing of the song”, which was Psalm 145:10, then the “great Hallell”, or “hymn”, which was the 136th Psalm (n). Now the last part of the “Hallell”, Christ deferred to the close of his supper; there being many things in it pertinent to him, and proper on this occasion, particularly Psalm 115:1, and the Jews themselves say (o), that , “the sorrows of the Messiah” are contained in this part: that this is the hymn which Christ and his disciples sung… all the disciples sung it, and therefore must be what they were acquainted with; and since Christ in most things conformed to the rites and usages of the Jewish nation…