This article is my humble submission on what Gospel music should be, and the life of those singing it. Like Paul, the apostle, I chose the phrase “my take”; “my take” does not render contrary opinions invalid. However, I can guarantee that will not express any opinion that contradicts the scriptures.
We all enjoy music, and life without Music could be very boring. It must be clear to all that I am not against all secular Music because some of them are not harmful. For instance, Akeeb Kareem (Blackman), a Nigerian folk Musician, had a hit song in the 70s. The song says OMO O Eyi pe dagba, OMO O eyi pe dagba, kekere jojolo mo gbo temi, OMO O eyii pe dagba; translated, children grow very fast, I got mine as a little gift. These lyrics speak so much of growth’s wonders and how blessed parents are blessed to see children grow. No one can say such Music motivates them to do evil. The fallen nature of man can still do some good but not propagate the gospel.
My exposure to music started with the spiritual songs. My late uncle, Pastor David Oluwemimo Omilani, lived with my family for many years, and he was in ministry at the time. I spent a more significant portion of my childhood in his bedroom in our house. The songs he listened to were those of Bola Aree, Ayewa, Niyi Adedokun, Sola Rotimi, and Ojo Ade. Later, I began to watch the likes of Funmi Aragbaye, Toun Soetan and the juvenile choir of C.A.C Oke Imole Agbowo on the television. In 1991 we went for a camp meeting, and we had to refresh in the morning. The camp’s bathroom and restroom were crowded, and my mother took us to her friend’s house, a place close to the camp. Early in the morning, the man of the house played the record of C&S Ayo Ni O. I had no knowledge of the group at that time, but the Music was heavenly. I loved it so much, and I almost asked for the record, but neither my father nor uncle had record players in those days.
Any secular music I ever listened to was through the radio television, and friends. I forgot to add those music merchants that played Music on the roadside were a great channel through which I listened to secular in those days. I will keep the secular musics I loved for another day. Let us have some questions that will inform the trajectory of the discussion in this article:
1) What was Jewish Music like in the Old Testament?
2) What was the Music like in the Days of Jesus?
3) What was Music like in the Acts of Apostle?
4) What is gospel music?
5) Who is a gospel Musician?
6) Is there any rule book for gospel Musicians?
What was Jewish Music like in the Old Testament ?
I chose to start here without reference to Lucifer for space. Usually, many writers open up this subject from the role of Lucifer, the morning star. I choose to start with the Jews. The choice of the Jews is significant, given that when man missed God in the beginning, God reconnected to Man through the family of Abraham.
Over two thousand years before Abraham, there was Jabal, the son of Lamech, whom the Bible referred to as the father of them, that handled the harp and organ (Gen 4:21). Jabal invented musical instruments. The string (harp) and wind (organ) came before other forms of instruments. It is not strange that either do not miss in almost all genres of Music globally. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, lived with and served his maternal uncle Laban for more than two decades. Laban maltreated Jacob, and this made Jacob run away without informing him. Laban chased him, and here is the record of what he said to Jacob.
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?
Here, Laban described how such send fourth ceremony should have been organized in his culture (middle east). Music plays a significant role in the celebration of memorable events. For the first time, Tabret, a percussion instrument was mentioned in Genesis 31: 27. Tabret is a drum or timbrel consisting of a wooden circle covered with membrane and furnished with brass bells (like the modern tambourine), which Oriental women beat when dancing (Pulpit Bible Commentary, 1890). Note that it means the same thing with timbrel.
The next time the Bible mentioned Tabret or Timbrel was mentioned was after Israel crossed the red sea.
Exodus 15: 21
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
Perhaps the contact Jacob made with Laban made timbrel the popular idiophones among the descendants of Jacob. More than 300 years after the contact, they are still playing it. All the women had it and sang and danced while they played the timbrel. A celebration of deliverance which I love to see in a night vision in the coming days. Maybe you are not aware that you can ask God to relay biblical events to you as his child. I know an old prophet who can relay the days of prophet Samuel. He will describe the prophet, Samuel in details (height, complexion and much more) . This old prophet taught my lecturers in the bible school I attended, and he comes around once in a while.
Back to the main issue, the cultures around the Jews informed their instrument of Music and dance. They did not have their own instrument which God gave them instruction on its design. Even when God gave Moses instruction on the tabernacle and the design in it, no mention was made on any musical instrument. The two silver trumpets which God told Moses to make was for the purpose of calling Israelite to the tabernacle and signal the time to continue their journey.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
In Job 21, Job lamented on the wicked of his days and how they prospered. In verse 21, he described how the children of the wicked sing and rejoice.
They take the timbrel and harp and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
Job is a contemporary of Abraham. In his days, the children of the wicked used the same instrument that Miriam and the women later used to praise God.
The main principle here is that the rhythm (fast or slow) or instrument does not make the Music ungodly but the relationship of the one playing it with God.
Are there musical instrument that should be forbidden in churches?