555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

500. What Precedent Does the Scripture Furnish for Solos, Duets and Choir Singing in Church?

In I Cor. 14:26, Paul, referring to the forms of worship of the Corinthian church, wrote: "When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, etc" This verse, especially when read in connection with verse 15, "I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also," implies that certain members sang alone. Tertullian and Augustine refer to this custom: "Every one," says Tertullian, "was invited in their public worship to sing unto God according to his ability, either from the Scriptures or one indited by himself." These songs were often extemporaneous. From the time of the Song of Miriam, who either sang alone in response to the other women, or led off their singing (Ex. 15:20, 21) there have been special singers and groups of singers to lead the music in the worship of God. The organization of the ancient Hebrew choirs was very elaborate. (See II Sam. 6:5; I Chron. chapters 15, 16, 23, 25, etc.) The congregation of Israel was so enormous that it was difficult if not impossible for all the people to sing at once; and the songs were learned first by the great choirs and must have been sung first by them before the people learned them; but there is no reason for believing that all the congregation joined in all the songs. Many consecrated Gospel singers are rendering acceptable worship and service to God in solos, duets, quartets and choruses. One is undoubtedly right in holding that such music should be really spiritual, should be sung without show, simply, clearly, earnestly to the glory of God. The body of church singing should be by the congregation as a whole, but the special solos and choir numbers also have their place.