The philosophy of music in the New Testament is broadly conceived. It is shaped particularly by Paul’s worldview, which did not accept the Greek ethos of the arts nor regard them as having intrinsic powers but focused rather on human responsibility. Such a view permitted Paul to encourage the extensive use of music in worship.
The musical culture of Jewish worship was carried over into the church by the Jewish converts to Christianity. In this regard, there was no radical break from Judaism that resulted in new forms of Christian music.
References to music occur in New Testament texts that are concerned with the raising of the dead or with the Lord’s return.
Although the New Testament says little about music making, it is clear that the worship life of the early church was characterized by the use of psalms and other forms of song.
It is difficult to determine the style of biblical music. Recent studies and discoveries, however, are resulting in an improved picture and expanded understanding of music in ancient Israel.
Synagogue worship expanded and developed the use of the voice. No musical instruments were used in synagogue worship.
Music in the temple was made for the worship of God. More than 10 percent of the people serving in temple ministries were musicians. Their music occupied a central place in the worship of God’s people.
In Israelite life, music was central to all that the people did. It is found not only in their worship, but also in their work, in their personal recreation, and in their military activities.
Music is gone as soon as it is made; especially where music is not recorded in some fashion, a piece of music can be reconstructed only if there are people who remember it and how to perform it. Because of the cultural and linguistic differences between our civilization and that of the ancient Israelites, it is difficult to recover the exact sound and use of biblical music in its historical context.
Music in free worship is not bound to the text of worship itself but appears here and there as separate, special, occasional, and incidental to the order of worship. This approach has led to a wide divergence of practice among churches.