Lyrics (under construction)
The first and indispensable requirement for vocal music is that the words must be doctrinally correct. It is not sufficient that it be included in a hymnal or a chorus book. Examples of the unsuitability of this criterion abound. Consider the second verse of “Lead On, O King Eternal”
Lead on, O King Eternal, till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper the sweet Amen of peace
For not with swords loud clashing nor roll of stirring drum
With deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.
This hymn, though being musically stirring, is based on postmillennialism – the unscriptural belief that Christians will bring about the return of Christ by creating a world “worthy” of Him by means of their good works. In point of fact, according to the Bible, the heavenly kingdom does not come with deeds of love and mercy, but with the seven-year judgment of God on the earth for sin. Even more blatant in respect of promoting postmillennialism is the hymn “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations” whose chorus goes:
For the darkness shall turn to dawning and the dawning to noonday bright
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.
Notice the sequence: The hymn affirms that this dark world is going to get brighter and brighter and then Christ will return to set up His kingdom. This reverses God’s order. Jesus Himself asked the rhetorical question “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The context clearly shows that this is a rhetorical question to which the expected answer is “No”.
Although there are some wonderful choruses, as a group they score even lower than hymns on the matter of doctrinal orthodoxy. Consider, for instance, the chorus "I Lift My Eyes Up". This starts well enough as a setting of Psalm 121, but concludes with these words "So I will wait for You to come and rescue me, To come and give me life". The Christian has already been rescued. He need not wait for it. Perhaps this line could be salvaged for orthodoxy if the rescue referred to is the redemption of the body, which is yet future. Yet the last line, "to come and give me life" is not so easily salvaged. John 5:24 says "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that hears my word and believes on him that sent me HAS everlasting life." The possessive word, "HAS" is in the present tense. The Christian is not waiting for Jesus to come and give him life. He has it already.
The Lord Jesus used this phrase to refer to those who pray the same thing over and over. Singing is not exactly the same thing, but both are addressed to God, and it can hardly be imagined that He is more pleased with repetitions in music than in prayer. Some choruses are the worst offenders in this respect, earning the generic sobriquet “7-11 music” meaning 7 verses sung 11 times. Probably the only time multitudinous repetitions are justifiable is in fugal writing where great variety in melody and harmony compensates for the sameness of the words. Handel’s famous Hallelujah Chorus is an example of this kind of fugal writing.
In a large majority of the Old Testaments texts that speak about instrumental music there is also the mention of singers. Nevertheless, there are a couple of passages that mention instruments alone. We shall have to judge the suitability of instrumental music on other bases.