Classical Music In The Sanctuary

Classical Music In The Sanctuary

How has classical music transitioned from the “secular” to the “holy” ground?

Is secular music satanic?

Can God use any form of music for His glory?

The Purpose Of Music

Ask a million people and you will get a million different answers. To many, the purpose of music is entertainment and enjoyment.  To others, it is for relaxation and meditation, while  for other persons, music isn’t music unless it excites the passions and stimulates the senses.

But according to one of the world’s  foremost  musicians and composers:

The aim  and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging.”    Johann Sebastian Bach.


How has classical music transitioned from the “secular” to the “holy” ground?

Genesis & Early Beginnings

What is religious music?

Religious or sacred music finds its roots way back in the Biblical days. David, shepherd boy who later became king of Israel, was one of the most prolific composers of songs.

Most of the Psalms in the bible was set to music and used in the temple service. Even today, Jews used them in synagogue worship.

In fact, many worship leaders today are still known as Psalmist. Even certain portions of the New Testament have been put to music and sung in the Orthodox liturgy.

While many composers have been inspired by their religion, music has been composed to compliment religion.

Still, forms of traditional music have been adapted for religious purposes by such greats as G. Palestrina and Johann Sebastian Bach.

The former wrote masses for the Roman Catholic Church while the latter wrote music for the Lutheran Church.

Early Contributors To Church Music

Hilldegard Of Bingen (1098 – 1179)

 A nun attached to a convent in Germany, Hilldegard later founded her own convent. Highly intellectual, over the years, she set liturgical text to music, writing hymns and religious songs. Some of her music  been recorded and preserved down through the ages.

Many other classical composers who contributed to church music during the baroque and classical periods include Antoni Vivaldi and Johann S. Bach. Even Beethoven contributed with  many Requiems and Masses and Mendelssohn with his repertoire of hymns and songs.

Patron Saint Of Music

Saint Cecelia is known as the Patron Saint of Music and church music in particular.

Living in Roman times, she  is said to have been the inspiration behind many composers and musicians  and is usually depicted with a  musical instrument in her hands. 

She is said to have heard heavenly music  when she was married  and told her husband that she had taken the vow of virginity and her guardian angels was protecting her.

She was martyred for her beliefs, and have had tribute paid to her by such notable composers as Henry Purcell and George Frederick Handel. November 22nd is known as her feast day and, one of Rome’s famous classical music venues – the National Academy Of Saint Cecelia has been named in her honor.

Music In The Sanctuary Today

During the nineteenth century, not a few classical composers have written some of the popular hymns still sung in many churches today. Still others have had their music adapted as hymns, such as Handel’s Largo by George Fredric Handel.

Perhaps the best known and endearing  hymn ever written was  Amazing Grace by John Newton, an Englishman, in 1772. The hymn was born out Newton’s repentance from the evils of slave-trading. Although written by John Newton, it was the American composer William Walker who first put Newton’s Amazing Grace to music.


Finally,  we dare not forget music by classical composers for special occasions, such as Wedding March, by Felix Mendelssohn, Bridal Chorus, by Richard Wagner, and Canon in D, by John Pachabel.

Should Christians listen to secular music?

Is secular music satanic?

Where do we draw the line?

What’s wrong with “christian rock concert music?

While the bible does not condemn any particular style of music, it does admonish us to focus on things “whatever things are true noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable.” Phil. 4:8

Whereas everyone’s taste may differ, Christians  are called to a higher standard.  In fact, the apostle Paul admonishes us, in 1st Cor.10:31 ..” Therefore, whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, do it all to the glory of God.”

So the big question then, for the christian,  is whether or not the music glorifies God.

And  if the music glorifies God,  then its purpose, style and lyrics must be considered.

But can God use any style of music for His glory?

My answer is a resounding yes.

What do you think?





Any questions, comments or constructive criticism will be greatly appreciated.


Sources:Got Questions?Org.

– New World Encyclopedia

–  Mfiles, Wikipedia

-Photos courtesy of Pixabay


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