Principles for Music in the Church
The Statement was adopted by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church of 1953, while the Implications were recommended to the churches for study. From the Psalter Hymnal of 1959, revised for use here.
The music of the church should be appropriate for worship
The music of the church should be worshipful. In spirit, form, and content it must be a positive expression of Scripturally religious thought and feeling. It should serve the ministry of the Word.
The music of the church should be beautiful.Its religious thought or spirit should be embodied appropriately in the poetry as poetry, in the music as music, and in the blending of these in song. It should satisfy the aesthetic laws of balance, unity, variety, harmony, design, rhythm, restraint, and fitness which are the conditions of all art.
- The music of the church should represent the full range of the revelation of God.
- The minister of the Word, on the one hand, and the organist, pianist and the choir director on the other, should cooperate constantly, so that the service of music will contribute to the service of the Word.
- The poetry of the songs should be good poetry; it should not have to rely upon the music to carry it.
- The music of the songs should be artistically defensible as good music; it should not have to rely upon the words to carry it.
- Whenever Psalms or other portions of Scripture are involved, the poetry of the songs should be true to the inspired Word. Such poetry should at the same time be vital free from the defects of artificiality and sentimentality.
- Whenever songs other than versifications of portions of Scripture are involved, the poetry should be genuinely expressive of Christian experience, but should also be in harmony with the whole counsel of God.
- The music of the church should he suitable to the text to which it has been adapted. It should be free from association with the currently secular or with anything that does violence to our Reformed conception of worship.
- The music of the church should not be borrowed from that of the dance nor from concert or other music which suggests places and occasions other than the church and the worship service.
- Such devices as extreme syncopation and extreme chromaticism (although on occasion these may be of value for special text settings) should generally be avoided.
- Great care must be exercised by the organist, pianist and choir director in selecting music, lest a secular association with the music interfere with the worshiper’s service.
- The music of the church should be expressive of our Reformed tradition and, so far as possible, should make ample use of the Genevan Psalm tunes and other music of Calvinistic inspiration.