I received a care package of Bible tracts from a fan (name and location withheld) and now I have new material for the blog to go with the Bible study and Saturday Sermons (I know, I haven’t done one lately). If you would like to point me to an online version of a tract, send me a Twitter DM (@AlienBiblical). If you have physical copies that you would like to send me, hold onto them and if or when I get enough responses, I will set up a PO Box for shipping. Of course, if we know each other, DM me and we’ll make arrangements. With that out of the way, I have a quick one.
This tract, “Why Sing and Not Play in Worship?” is a stellar example of why I find tracts so amusing. The opening question is, “Should we sing and play a mechanical instrument of music or just sing in worship?” It goes on to say that there are only two kinds of music, vocal and mechanical/instrumental. Really? What about the combination of the two which is what most popular music is since forever? That would then make an additional kind of music since I am assuming vocal includes a Capella, choir, chorale, barbershop, and ululation.
The author then goes on to state, “We have been discharged from the laws of Moses!” Problem: as far as I can find on the Internet, the only place in the Old Testament that seems to “command” instruments be used in worship is in Psalms which is not the law of Moses, it’s poetry. The tract lists passages where it says sing or some variation. None of these passages, however, command that ONLY voices be used and none of them explicitly or implicitly forbid the use of instruments (with the exception of one, which I will get into). They are also single verses within a larger context of a chapter. I can go through any book, pull out a line, and say that this is what the author said (people do it all the time with Orwell and Huxley).
The idea of this tract is to say, “The Bible tells us to only sing and not play instruments, so when it tells us anything we have to listen to it.” To me, when somebody states a petty rule like this, they are saying that they are petty and nothing more. Reading through the titles of the rest of the tracts by this same author, I can tell that he wrote them to stroke his own ego. Maybe you’re saying that I’m going after the low-hanging fruit here, but I contend that the author is instead.
This tract (like all other tracts) is for a narrow audience and that is the people who go to the same churches who would order these tracts and put them on display. Perhaps they could be used to try to sway someone from a church such as my girlfriend’s that do play instruments in worship (they have a quite accomplished stable of musicians, including my girlfriend). I could read deeper into this tract and make some inferences about it, but I think I’ll save that for later.
One final note on the exception that I mentioned above. The very first passage listed is Matthew 26:20 and says that it uses the word “sung”, but when I looked it up, it said no such thing. It turns out that it should have been Matthew 26:30, but then the people for whom these are written are not going to question the author because he is, apparently, an authority. While I may have typos in this post, I can correct them on the fly. That’s not so easy to do when the pamphlets have been printed and distributed.