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MAT NO: U2012/4444035






-Origin of Music


-Uses of Music in the Old Testament





Composers of the Old Testament



The origin of music can be traced to the very beginning of the word even before creation.
God makes sound and these sounds have meaning that is God intends to communicate so as to be
understood and God said let there be light Even before light, there was sound, meaningful sound,
sound to which the then uncreated and nonexistent world responded to in an instant and there was
light (Gen 1:3). This is a God who speaks creation into existence, a God who speaks with the
intention of being understood, a God who speaks in hope that something and someone in His
creation will respond in speech.
In the century BC, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras (according to the legend) passed a
blacksmith and heard how the hammers produced harmonies. He then discovered from this the
basic musical intervals of an octave, fifth and fourth. To his amazement further research using
stretched strings showed that these intervals had precise ratios: two to one for the octave, three to
two for the fifth and four to three for the fourth, in the words of a modern philosopher Pythagoras
had discovered that the intervals that constitute the foundations of western harmony are built into
the world music is rooted in the very existence of man and nature of things.
Other confirmations comes from modern physics. David Bohm has called the underlying
reality of the universe the implicate order. Music while being played in our consciousness gives
us the sense of a whole unbroken, while listening one is perceiving directly an implicate order. No
wonder Martin Luther King said when you sing you pray twice. To Pythagoras, music is the core
of the essential nature of created reality. When we perceive music, we are perceiving the essence
of the universe in a way different from any other art from it. It is significant that a prominent
physicist and a famous philosopher agree that ordered, intelligible sound is built into the very
essence of the physical universe.
In case you have been wondering why am talking about sound, music is basically sounds
but in this case organized sounds, without any sound there is no music, that is why God did not
only create sound but through the sound of His word God created the world.
It is also evident that as far as the doctrine of creation is concerned, the sounds of nature
and culture cannot take care of themselves. Mankind is called to rule sounds, to order them, work
them and take care of them. It is a noble calling to be a musician (at any level) and to embark on
necessary task of bringing order to the world of sound so that it produces pleasing sounds to sustain
our lives and so fulfill Gods call.
Egypt was amongst the oldest cultures of the Near East and had a highly developed musical
culture dating back to around 3000BC. Egyptian sources however, include only pictorial relics,
some instruments had a few literary record concerned with performance practices. On various
pieces of sculpture there are reliefs of harpists and flutists taking part in religious ceremonies and
social entertainments.


In the Old Testament, people were devoted to the study and practice of music which holds
a unique place in the historical and prophetic books as well as the psalter. Its noted that among
the 24 (twenty-four) books of the Old Testament, the 150 psalms in the book of psalms ascribed
to King David have served as the bedrock of Judea Christian hymnology.
The inventor of the musical instrument like the first poet and the first forger of metal was
a descendant of Cain. We learn this from the passage which states of Jubal:
Genesis 4:21 And his brothers name (was) Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp
and organ. This man therefore invented the wind and stringed instruments. Before him, there was
probably only some percussion instruments on which early ancestors may have beaten. It is from
Jubal that we get the word jubilee.
The first mention of music after the deluge I the narrative in Genesis where Laban asks
Jacob: Genesis 31:27, wherefore didst thou flee away secretly and steal away from me; and didst
not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth and with songs, with tabret and with
harp?. This shows that music played an important part in the festivals of the home. It also seems
to show that music was preserved by Noah and his family during the flood. No doubt instruments
of music where taken on board the ark and Noah and his family were able to clear themselves
during their years sojourn in that monstrous boat. These instruments in the hand of Laban show
that the musical instruments had found their way into the upland country of Syria.
In exodus after the people of Israel had escaped from Egypt to the opposite shores of Red
Sea. Moses and the people sang a victory song. Exodus 15:1, then sang Moses and the children
of Israel this song unto the lord, and spoke, saying, I will sing unto the lord, for he hath triumphed
gloriously: the horse and his rider hath the thrown into the voices of thousands, in fact over
a million, singing this praise glorifying Jehovah must have been glorious. Miriam, the sister of
Moses, celebrated this event with the women of the camp. Exodus 15:20-21. The voices of the
women, and the instruments of music are combined in praise to God. The two instruments called
the timbrels and dances.
At beer, God gave the people the water and the people of Israel sang this song. Numbers
21:17, then Israel sang this song, spring up, o well, sing ye unto it.
Moses gave instructions to Israel before he died, some of these warnings were by means
of songs. Deuteronomy 31:30. Singing was used for instructive purposes, and for admonishing the
people of God. Just as the majority of us learned our ABCs by song, so some of Gods word was
taught by song.
Joshua used instruments of music called trumpets of rams horns, to bring down the wall
of Jericho as in Joshua 6:4, it was done on the seventh day and they compassed the city seven (7)
times with trumpet. Deborah and Barak celebrated their victory in war by songs in the time of the
judges. Judges 5:1-3.

Jepthahs daughter also used instruments of music to run to greet her father. Judges 11:34,
she used them to greet loved ones rather than send them away, as Laban had proposed to do for
Saul was welcomed home from the battle of the philistines by the women shouting and
playing on instruments of music.1 Samuel 18:6.
David, who was very cunning on the harp, often played his harp to comfort King Saul, 1
Samuel 16:23. David used his harp to drive away evil spirits from Saul, 1 Samuel 18:10. It should
be noted that up to this point in time, instruments of music were not commanded by God. He did
not institute instrumental music in worship in the Law of Moses. The only music used in the days
of Moses was spontaneous praise to God by the people. A rams horn was blown to call the
assembly together. Numbers 10:7-9, but when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall
blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm.
8- And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an
ordinance for ever throughout your generations.
9- And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an
alarm with the trumpets, and ye shall be remembered before the lord your God, and ye shall be
saved from enemies. But God never ordained music as part of the law in the worship of God. It
was during the days of David that instrumental music was commanded in the worship by God.
David was the one who was used of God to introduce music as a systematic art among the Hebrews,
the scriptures states in II chronicles 29:25. This was where vocal and instrumental music was used
in the worship of God as God had commanded.
Music was also used in bridal processions, music was used to express love to ones lover
as seen in Song of Solomon and psalms 45:1-17.
There was the wailing chant of mourners at funerals as well as those who song as they
toiled shepherds like David played their harps as they tended sheep. Prostitute used the instruments
as bait to entrap men and to advertise their wares. Isaiah 23:16 meanwhile on the other hand the
people of God went up to their festivals with songs. Psalms 84, Isaiah 30:29, 1 chronicles 13:8 and
1 chronicles 15:16-28.


The ancients called musicians and singers kayne or the descendants of Cain. Professional
musicians became popular in both the palace and the temple. Chenaniah was one of the first
teachers of music II chronicles 15:22, and Chenaniah, chief of the Levites (was) for song: he
instructed about the song, because he (was) skillful. David gathered musicians around him and
used them in the service of God. They played and sang and even gave prophecies by means of
psalms as even David himself did. Later, a king of Israel selected two hundred and eighty-eight
men to play their instruments in praise to God while jeduthun and others prophesied.
As a musician, David was famous for both the skill by which he played and the anointing
under which he ministered. In the Old Testament without the presence of the musicians nothing
happens because their roles are enormous and cannot be over emphasized. They are mostly the
people that start the service or worship in the temple, it is even done until today, and they provide
songs for the worship. They sing before any ritual or sacrifice takes place so their absence will
mean no sacrifice that is why in the Old Testament they were kept together away from other people
so that whenever they are needed they will be available to answer their call. They sang during
bridal processions that is without them the marriage will be a mess. They played musical
instruments. The presence of God was brought down by the musicians in the Old Testament that
is why he even recorded in the bible when you praise God steps him and this was why Lucifer was
close to God while he was in heaven because he sang beautifully God over looked him for his
wrong doings. They are asked to play a priestly role and bring us into the presence of God by
producing an experience. They know the songs, instruments and key changes that produces the
desired effect on the congregation. They were trained to know the bible not just songs thats why
Asaph, Haman and Jeduthun prophesized alongside their songs, the knowledge of the word of God
helps them to know the song that teaches the truth and sings it regarding to the Godly emphasis it
portrays. They sang to praise God, pass across their feelings (emotions) and sometimes prayer to
God through their songs. Sometimes their songs were encouragement to others in the Christian
faith with them so that they keep their faith up in difficult times.


The music ministers in the old testaments where men, it contained no woman in it. It was
not open to most en, it was limited to a few men from the priestly family of Levist chronicles
15:1-2, Nehemiah 12:24. Regardless of how pious and godly a person from another tribe may have
been, he cannot be accepted if not from the Levi family.
However as a way of symbolically declaring the perfection and holiness of God, only
perfectly healthy Levites in the prime of their life could be in active ministry (Numbers 8:24-25).
A male Levite could be disqualified from being a music minister for a variety of reasons: If he is having a physical disability or deformity.
If he is temporarily unclean (this could be due to several circumstances).
If he his outside the age of 25 to 50 (the prescribed age of Levites in regular service).
If he is showing symptoms of certain diseases (which has made the person to be classified
as being unclean) and that is why, why it was impractical to admit women onto the regular
roster of music ministry because women within the required age range of 25 to 50 were
frequently unclean due to their monthly period or childbirth.
They were chosen, they were not just anybody, they were carefully selected people 1
chronicles 15:11-23, 16:4-7, 1st chronicles 37, 41-42, 2nd chronicles, 20:21, Nehemiah 7:1.

They were to do a definite work- they were prepared and trained to do a particular work
which they are aware of. 2nd chronicles 7:6, Nehemiah 11:22, 2nd chronicles 8:14, 2nd chronicles
31:2. They were to give all or part of their time in service. They were full time worshippers that
was their ministry. They were educated and trained, skilled in playing musical instruments 1
chronicles 15:22, Nehemiah 11:22, 1st chronicles 25:1-8, Nehemiah 12:42, 46. They were
consecrated numbers 8:5-14, 1 chronicles 15:12, 2nd chronicles 15:27, 2nd chronicles 5:12. They
were to be paid for their services: Numbers 18:21, 2nd chronicles 31, Nehemiah 12:47, 13:5. They
were provided a place to live in the church took care of their accommodation since they need to
be trained, tutored at a place by someone Ezra 2:70, Nehemiah 7:73, 12:28-29, Mathew 10:10.
They were treated as other religious workers Ezra 7:24, Nehemiah 10:28. They were to be adults,
matured: Numbers 4:47, 1 chronicles 23:3-5.


The first recorded leader in the bible is David though they talked about people who knew
how to play the musical instruments very well, they even referred to Jubal (the descendant) of Cain
as the father of instrument but no one was specifically referred to as a music leader before David
because you cannot be a leader without followers.
King David was a gifted, talented musician who organized the music and musicians that
worshipped God. 1st chronicles 15:16-24 shows the organization structure of the Israelite
musicians. He did not only form leaders who reported to him, he also formed singers from the
priestly family (Levi) who will be under them: some were assigned to play instrument depending
on the musical instrument you know how to play very well while some were asked to sing. Among
them he created a leader by name Chenaniah as the leader of the Levites in music because
Chenaniah understood music and so he should direct the others. Chenaniah is the first choir director
mentioned in the bible while under him was Hermon, Asaph and Jeduthan were also choir leaders
to their different choir groups under Chenaniah. They were altogether two hundred and eighty
eight choristers shared twelve into a group with a group leader each. They know exactly when to
sing and when its their turn to play instruments, it was a well-organized music structure put in
place by David.
Moses: In the book of Exodus 15, Moses sang unto the Lord with the people of Israel for saving
them from the red sea and allowing their enemies to drown in the red sea. He was the first composer
recorded in the bible, Psalm 90.
David: He sang and was even made a man after Gods heart due to his songs, he was a notable
composer of the old testament and even till today his works cannot be compared to any other in
the bible (Numerous psalms including 3 to 9, 11 to 15, 17 to 32, 34 to 41, 108 to 110, 138 to 145).
Solomon (1 Kings 4:31-32, Psalms 72, Psalms 84-85, 87-88, 127). Asaph (Psalms 50, 73, 83).
Ethan (Psalm 89).
The Old Testament helps us see a growing use of music. From starting out with a worldly
descendant of Cain, it progressed into the very worship of God in his Holy temple by His
command. The instruments are found right in the temple where Jesus went to worship. After Jesus
died, the apostles still went to worship in the temple. As in all oriental music the Hebrews music
was not as much harmony as melody, all the singers, old and young, male and female, usually sang
in unison however there are exceptions, sometimes the leaders would sing the first half of a verse
and the congregation would finish it. Other times the leader would sing a verse and the rest would
repeat it at other times he, the leader would sing and the people would sing the refrain of Amen
or Hallelujah. Sometimes the different classes of people would sing parts. For example, young
maidens or young men would sing the melody the musical accompaniment sustained the melody.
Sometimes the same Psalms would be repeated by another person in a lower or higher key. This
repetition would seem monstrous, but it did cause the Psalms to be familiar to the worshippers.
One must remember that oriental music today is still strangely foreign to our western ears. It should
remembered that harps, flutes and cymbals would be good instruments for melody. It was no doubt,

a shrill sound compared to our music today. In the old testaments they used only three types of
instruments and percussion instrument.
Wind instruments includes Horn made from a rams horn which is in this 21st century translated
to be cornet, Joshua 6:5.
Trumpets made of metal and was used in worship by the Levites (Zechariah 9:14-15). Straight
trumpet khatsotseraw which means to quiver usually it is was one cubit long Numbers 10:1-2
and 9-10.
Oboe or pipe is a perforated pipe in the Old Testament thought to be oboe in this 21st century. 1st
Samuel 10:5, Kings 31:40.
Silver trumpet used to signal Joshua6:5. Flute Daniel 3:5. Organ Job 21:12.
Dulcimer is a bag pipe instrument with two reeds. Daniel 3:5, 10.
Percussion Instruments
Tabret or Timbrel-Genesis 31:27, its a narrow hoop covered with tightened skin and struck with
the hand its sometimes called hadrus.
Sistrum: Makes a rattling sound II Samuel 6:5
Tinklers: A type of double cymbal 1 chronicles 13:8.
Triangle or Dance: It is used for effect, its also called the dance because its accompanied , merry
making 1 Samuel 18:6.
Cymbals: Psalm 150:5, they were used to mark time, they were both hand and thumb cymbals 1
chronicles 16:5.
Bells: they were worn by priests. Exodus 28:33-35.
Drum: Psalms 68:25.
Stringed instruments: The Gath Psalm8, Isaiah 16:10.
Harp, flute, sackbut, zither, psaltery, lyre. Some of this instruments are still in use while some are
not thou same changed their names from what they are called in the Old Testament to something
different in this 21st century.
Compared to the Old Testament, today women sing alone which was an early contradiction
to the rule in the Old Testament that said women should keep silence. Instrumental music was used
without the voice for interludes and to set the mood of the songs. Instrumental music is not repealed
as it was commanded of David and not of Moses. Many of those involved in contemporary music
ministry appeal to the different styles of music of the Old Testament for doing their own thing.
They believe that music produced by percussion instruments and accompanied by dancing was
common in religious services. Consequently they that some styles of rock music and dancing are
appropriate for church services today. In the Old Testament musicians belonged to the professional
clergy, played only on limited and special occasions and used only few specific musical
instruments, music was rigidly controlled in the temple. Music was restricted to men before David
made church music administration. The music ministry at the temple was effective and successful
for several reasons which are relevant for our churches music today. First the Levite musicians
were matured and trained with an understanding of music, for the 21st century church music
ministry to be effective as the Old Testament musicians need to be trained as we live in a highly
educated society.
Secondly the music ministry in the Old Testament was successful because its musicians
were prepared spiritually, they were set aside and ordained for their ministry like the priests, and
musicians today should do same to have an effective ministry.

Thirdly the Levite musicians were full time workers, 1 chronicles 9:33 apparently the
Levites ministry of music entailed considerable preparations because we read that David left Asaph
and his brethren there before the ark of the covenant of the lord to minister continually before the
ark as each day required. 21st century ministers should be willing to work diligently preparing the
music needed for the worship of God.
Lastly the Levite musicians were not singing artistes invited to entertain the people at the
temple, they were minister s of music 1 chronicles 6:31-31. Through their music they ministered
to the people so 21st century musicians should be able to touch ad change lives, create impact with
their music.
The Levite ministry was well defined so today musicians should define their ministry since
church music ministry is a vital part of the worship experience of Gods people.
To minister musically in the Old Testament was a great privilege and a more responsible
service, this is still true of church music ministry today. In a very real sense we are New Testament
Levites therefore these principles established by God for the Levitical priesthood should be noted
as valid guidelines for, music leaders in a New Testament church.


1) Music and the church by David B. Pass
2) Erik Routley, The church and music, revd.ed (London: Duckworth, 1967) pg.228.
3) Introduction to the Old Testament as scripture (London: sum press, 1979) pg. 78 by
Brevard childs.
4) Jubilate II church music in worship and renewal by Donald P. Hustad.
5) Building an effective church music ministry by Eveline F. miller 1993. Pg. 10-12.
6) www.encyclopedia of church