“Melody in Your Heart”

By J. L. Leifeste

“speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).

“Melody” is an arrangement of pleasing sounds or a poem suitable to singing. Throughout history, people have often used singing to express joy, sorrow, ideals, views of life, praise to God, and praise to various false deities in which they believed.

Certain things in this world make us happy. Often, our joy is shown by melody. The melody in Ephesians 5:19 resides deep in the heart of the Christian spirit. It refers to an expression of emotions between Christians and from Christians to God by singing. We realize harmonious, spiritual joy because Christians are saved through Christ (Acts 2:38; 4:12; Rom. 6:3-4, 17-18, 23; Eph. 2:13-18; 5:25-26). As the last part of Eph. 5:19 emphasizes, singing and making melody in your heart to God is of extreme importance. It is an essential expression from our hearts to God. Through it, we reveal and prove our love, worship, praise, and reverence to God while we remember Jesus Christ. With melody in our hearts, we honor and thank God for our spiritual salvation. Notice how the commandment of Colossians 3:16 resembles that of Eph. 5:19. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).

Ephesians 5:19 includes much of importance between Christians. As we worship God, we edify each other. We instruct and encourage each other by singing (Col. 3:16). We also comfort each other by singing. We are commanded to care for each other (Jn. 15:12; Rom. 12:10, 13; 1 Cor. 12:25-27). Singing helps us do that.

That to which Ephesians 5:19 refers is a part of worship to God. Our worship must be in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24). When it is spiritual, it is not worldly (see Rom. 12:1-2), it is not pretense (see Matt. 15:8), and it is orderly (1 Cor. 14:40). Our worship is not meant to be an entertainment for us (see Gal. 1:10). Our worship must also be in truth with understanding. When we truly understand God’s will, we do not follow the practices of Israel during the Law of Moses, such as sacrificing animals or using instruments in worship. The Old Law was nailed to the cross when Jesus gave Himself as our sacrifice for sin (Col. 2:14; Heb. 10:10). Today, the New Testament speaks to us with authority from God (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15; Jn. 16:12-13; Acts 1:8; Gal. 1:11-12; Eph. 3:3-5). We follow the New Testament of Christ because it shows us what God now accepts (see Jn. 1:17; Heb. 1:1-2; 8:6-9; 2 Pet. 1:3; Jude 3).

Some people today believe musical instruments are acceptable in worship. But as shown earlier, we must not follow the practices of Old Testament Israel in our worship, and worship is not a worldly entertainment for ourselves. Also, understanding the New Testament involves the teachings of Christ and the apostles, examples of the New Testament (or early) church, and things logically deduced from the New Testament. There is no instrumental music in the worship of God taught by the apostles, none in deductions from the New Testament, and none in the earliest church examples. The book of Acts shows no instruments used in correct worship by the early church. Also, scholars of history agree that singing without instruments was the acceptable and common practice of the early church. Some people have written that instruments in worship may have begun occurring about the 6th century A.D. Many scholars recognize that instrumental music in worship was not generally, fully practiced until about the 8th century A.D. This change, using instruments in worship, came from man, not God. The writings of Ambrose (about 339 A.D. to 397 A.D.) and Augustine (about 354 A.D. to 430 A.D.) both warn Christians to leave musical instruments out of worship. Books by Kurt Pahlen, Hugo Leichtentritt, Emil Nauman, John Kurtz, Frank L. Humphreys, and Joseph Bingham mention that New Testament worship did not include instruments.

Christians must worship in spirit and in truth. Our spiritual worship must speak to one another, which involves words. The international sign language among the deaf is a form of “speaking.” Thus, worship by means of sign language would be acceptable to God. Musical instruments, like babblings, are not recognizable words and are not acceptable (see 1 Cor. 14:9, 15, 19). Regardless of what national language or sign language we may use, our spiritual worship must radiate from the heart. The emotions are born from gratitude, love, and joy of being saved by Jesus Christ. Christian singing, without worldly intrusion by musical instruments, is supremely focused upon God. Christians singing together, from our hearts, blends as God wants it to blend. It rises to that glorious realm where our worship might be heard by, or perhaps joined by, the singing of the heavenly host, as we praise God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, at God’s right hand (Col. 3:1; Heb. 12:2).

Credit for historical data must be given to those mentioned above, to Edward Dickinson, and to James M. Tolle.