Worship and Music Resources

Notes, Resources, Links, and Articles related to true Christian worship and church music.

For the last few years, I have been studying the issues of music and worship. I have been shocked at how many conservative Christians have little or no understanding of these issues. On this page, I am compiling some of the resources I have used and material I have put together which I hope will be help to others. More will be added in the future.

Articles and Lesson Notes

Physical Expression in Worship – examining proof texts for raising hands, dancing, etc.

Hebrew Words for Praise – an examination of Charismatic claims about the meanings of Hebrew words.

The Mysterious Tabernacle of David – a refutation of Charismatic claims about worship based on the so-called Tabernacle of David.

The Secret Charismatic Invasion – a warning about an ongoing issue in our conservative churches.

On Typology – thoughts on the use and misuse of typology.

More coming…

Class Notes

These selected notes are from a class I taught on Fundamentals of Church Music at Norris Bible Baptist Seminary in Fall 2022.

The Worship Conference

A fantastic resource is The Worship Conference. Be sure and check out their archived session recordings.

Articles by Scott Aniol

Of all the authors addressing worship and church music today, I find Scott Aniol to be the best at understanding and defending the most foundational aspects of the subjects. There are some areas that I tend to disagree with him, and these are usually related to his Reformed perspective or practice. You can find his most recent material at G3 Ministries and his older material at Religious Affections.

Stop Singing Hillsong, Bethel, Jesus Culture, and Elevation – Highly recommend.

How Music Embodies Theology – Highly recommend.

Two Kinds of Worship Music – good, though I don’t necessarily agree with the “covenant renewal” approach that he promotes.

Christ or Chords? The Manipulated Emotionalism of Hillsong, Asbury, and Pentecostalized Evangelical Worship

Shall We Dance?

“Emotion” is a Virtually Worthless Word

How Corporate Worship Is and Is Not Like a Baseball Game

Should Worship Be Authentic? It Depends on What You Mean

Foundations of Biblical Worship

A Theology of Christian Worship

The Reformation of Worship

Baptists and Biblical Authority in Worship

Worship Regulated by Scripture

Decent and Orderly Corporate Worship

Worship on Earth as It Is in Heaven

Chasing Shadows

Unbiblical Expectations of the Asbury Revival

Recommended Books

A History of Contemporary Praise & Worship by Ruth and Lim – My Review – Fantastic history of the origins and development of modern worship music. History, not dogmatic.

Lovin’ on Jesus: A Concise History of Contemporary Worship by Ruth and Lim – Good introduction on the history and practices of modern worship music.

It’s Not About the Music: A Journey Into Worship by Dan Lucarini – The single best book I have yet found on the subjects of worship and music.

Worship – The Ultimate Priority by John MacArthur. Best overall book on true worship.

By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture by Scott Aniol. The main purpose of this book is countering the missional church philosophy, there is much to glean from concerning Christianity’s relationship with the world and culture around us.

Sing With Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Hymnology by Harry Eskew – Great introduction to classic hymnody as an art form.

Church Music for the Glory of God by Gunnar Urang. Somewhat rare, but a tremendous look at church music from the 1950’s.

Worship: The Christian’s Highest Occupation by A.P. Gibbs. Can be downloaded for free at the Plymouth Brethren Archive.

True Worship: Traditional, Contemporary, Biblical by David Whitcomb and Mark Ward. 27 Bible studies with great principles about worship.

Public Worship for Non-Liturgical Churches by Arthur S. Hoyt. The chapter on music is very good. Written in 1911.

The Christian Worshiping by V.L. Stanfield. Part of the old SBC Church Study Course, this brief book is a decent overview of worship. There are a few minor points and emphases that I disagree with (he does have a brief mention of tongues that is wrong).

The Fine Art of Public Worship by Andrew W. Blackwood. While certain denominational (Presbyterian) aspects of this book I disagree with (infant baptism, classic liturgy, etc.), the overall message of this book is a welcome challenge to elevate the quality of traditional worship.

Books to Avoid

Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin – very popular today but written by a charismatic (or continuationist as he prefers to be called.) Some of his thoughts are good, but the foundational understanding and practice of worship is flawed.

Holy Roar by Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead – the popular but deeply flawed Hebrew word study.

How to Worship a King by Zach Neese – the single worst book I have ever read. From his outlandish stories to his regurgitation of almost every P&W theology talking point, I cannot understand how this book is taken seriously by anyone outside of the wildest charismatic circles.

Sing! by Keith and Kristyn Getty – while the primary thesis of the book is good (the great need for participation of the congregation in sacred music), there is too much promotion of modern styles that are actually contrary to such participation.

Books of Mixed Value

The Power of Music by Don Staddon, Jr. – Some good ideas, but the section on music history is atrocious. There are some other elements that are frankly wrong and the last half of the book is of little value. I hate to say to avoid a conservative book, but we frankly need better than this.

Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement by Dan Lucarini – A dated first-hand account of someone in the midst of the “worship wars” of the late nineties. It sounded a needed alarm for its time but has little lasting influence. There are better books today with much better understanding of what happened and why it happened.

Worship and the Ear of God by Dave Hardy – My Review – The primary concern of this book is the promotion of using the physical act of bowing or prostration in worship. The author is extremely inconsistent with this presentation, often undermining his own statements. There are some side issues that are dealt with fairly.

Recommended Music Resources


Please note that there is no perfect hymnal. You will not find one that has every song you would want to sing as a congregation. There will be songs you do not care for. Some will edit the lyrics of songs, for good or bad. I would recommend surveying several before committing to investing in them for your church. It is often easier to make do with the hymnal you have rather than bringing in an entirely new one.

Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs – A new hymnal with a wealth of traditional congregational music. There 980 songs in total, ranging from Isaac Watts to Anne Steele to John Newton to Fanny Crosby to B.B. McKinney (a personal favorite). No Gaither or Getty included, which I honestly appreciate. I consider this a “technical” hymnal that may not appeal to all, as it includes the tune names, meters, and also multiple Scripture references for songs. I haven’t had time to dig in to deeply, but the only real concerns I would have about it so far are its complexity (which I love but might be too much for some), the obscurity of many songs, a few odd arrangements (see the included original(?) bass solo for #858 “Send the Light”), and the curious choice to use the old school spelling of musick. Also there is a great effort to include metrical psalms in this collection but no index or guide to where they are or if the full psalter is included. The wealth of songs and information makes this a hymnal to have at least for reference even if it does not suit your congregational needs.

Bible Truth Hymns – A solid collection of 682 songs with a range of traditional hymns, gospel songs, and some Southern Gospel-style songs (“I’ll Fly Away”, and so on). I think that range is the greatest strength of this hymn book.

Songs and Hymns of Revival – 551 songs that favors a mix of Gospel songs from the late 1800’s on, Southern Gospel, and some popular Conservative/Fundamentalist writers like Ron Hamilton.

Soul Stirring Songs & Hymns – This is the hymnal that the church I grew up in used. Heavy on Gospel songs from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, light on older hymns and psalms. Definitely evangelistic in its scope. I have not reviewed the updated version titled Heart-Warming Songs & Hymns.

Rejoice Hymnal – 728 songs plus KJV Scripture readings. Broad mix of songs with quite a bit of Southern Gospel influence. Produced by Freewill Baptists.

Majesty Hymns – I tend to associate this hymnal with fans of Ron Hamilton, a.k.a. “Patch the Pirate”, though it is has far more to offer than just his songs (“Rejoice in the Lord” is a personal favorite). A very solid mix of traditional hymns, gospel songs, and some very sound newer songs. I have to be honest and say that I am disappointed in its update Rejoice Hymns, mainly because it includes so-called “modern hymns” from the Gettys. There indicates a shift in what its editors consider to be acceptable forms of congregational music.

Psalms and Hymns to the Living God – I believe that our churches would benefit from a revival of singing psalms. In the past century or so this practice has largely died out except in some Reformed denominations. One of the problems with many traditional psalters is that they are very inconsistent in quality across there adaptions of all 150 Psalms. This book is one of the best of the recent attempts to compile a full psalter with quality lyrics and tunes.

Accompaniment Links

Simply put, we have a great need for church musicians today. If your church is struggling to find instrumentalists, you can take advantage of prerecorded accompaniment tracks. There are some great sources available with solid music, some even for free! If you have capable musicians then I would encourage you to use them because live music is so much better than recorded.