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
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.
On Typology – thoughts on the use and misuse of typology.
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.
Lovin’ on Jesus: A Concise History of Contemporary Worship by Ruth and Lim – Good introduction on the history and practices of modern worship music.
Sing With Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Hymnology by Harry Eskew – Great introduction to classic hymnody as an art form.
Worship – The Ultimate Priority by John MacArthur. Best overall book on true worship.
Church Music for the Glory of God by Gunnar Urang. Somewhat rare, but a tremendous look at church music from the 1950’s.
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.
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.
Books to Avoid
Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin – very popular today but written by a charismatic (or continuationist as he prefers to be called.)
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 promoting 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.