Free «Music as an Instrument of Worship» Essay Sample

There is no doubt that music was a major instrument of worship during the medieval age in various religions and sects. Music was composed in form of poems and sang or recited by either solo, duo, trio or quartet presentations. In the Catholic Church, prayers directed to the Virgin Mary were written down; lyrics, which arose from the medieval song traditions, were the Marian prayer in the Gregorian chant. The church organizations, which existed at the time, besides the Catholic Church, called cults practiced a popular music, which can be referred to as sacred popular. It is observed that the Jewish people in the ancient times used music for the worship of their God, and this demonstrated a rich context of the Mediterranean cultic song. [1]  Music was studied and performed not only in religious, but also in a social setting, except when it was done during a worship service. The early Christian music retained the musical tradition element practiced in Judaism; for instance, there was a performance of music at the Jerusalem Temple as well as in several other occasions of Jewish life. The main aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between religion and music, and how it was performed during a worship service.[2]

During the eighth-century, in Frankish- Roman communion cycle, the weekday communions were looked upon in both the liturgical literature and musicology as something quite unique. During these communions, seven of the ten communions are celebrated in splendoribus. At such a time, there is no referring to the composer’s lyrics.[3] However, according to this church, the Advent-Christmas communions are a bit different from the post-Christmas communions. Therefore, music plays a significant role in the conduction of mass and Office in the Catholic Church[4].

Case Study of Music and Religion Medieval In Period

During the thirteenth century, organum was commonly sung at several points at Notre Dame, when the liturgy of a feast day was performed. The liturgy was sung during the Assumption week, namely the first and the second vespers. The first service vespers were sung in the evening, following the vigil of the feast day, which took place on August 14. Its main aim was to set the stage for the celebration of Mary’s Assumption. It also involves the first antiphony, which alludes to the Solomon’s Song of Solomon. In this song, the focus is not on Solomon speaking to his lover, but the Christians addressing the Virgin Mary as it can be seen in the line: “most prudent Virgin, where are you going glowing brightly as dawn?’ The vespers were held in France, which was the headquarters of the Catholic Church during the medieval period, since it is stated that all the chants in the Parisian Vespers were also performed in all other local liturgies. [5]

In 1950s of the first century, Paul writes a letter to the Corinthians in a Christian community. It is in this letter that shows the earliest indication of the use of musical instruments. [6]

Relationship of Music and Worship

Music was one of the instruments that the church used during holy celebrations as a form of worshiping God. For instance, it was closely connected with the celebration f the holy Eucharist. In the Catholic Church, two readings are made and someone else, apart from the reader, sings the hymns of David and the rest of the congregation and responds with specific choruses. The hymns were words of praising and worshiping God, and the prescription of the short hymns begin with the words, ‘holy,’ ‘holy,’ ‘holy,’ which originated from an acclamation made by an angel in the biblical Book of  Isaiah 6:3 as well as Revelation 4:8 . There are also celebrations of the seven communions, each of which has its own song composed of a composition unit. [7]

Boynton also examines how Farfa monks produced liturgical compositions, which they used to fortify their case in both political and religious controversies. This once again shows that worship is influenced by music. Some particular saints have used office hymns to articulate the Abbey’s claim on the state of their remains, which has constantly been refuted by those with similar traditions, although supported by other religious communities. [8]

Due to her expertise in music and history, Boynton has added to her excellence by writing about liturgical training and possible implications of the orality and litracy, the significance of monastic customaries,  which serve as the sources for the medieval Christian worship, the child Oblate’s role in the preparation, as well as celebration of liturgy.

When the Music Is Played in Religious Service

The local Christian church in Rome had a custom of singing the psalms of David as they took bread and wine during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. [9] Devout Christian citizens were required by the Cathedral office to attend a morning office, which referred to hours of prayer, whereby, hymns were sung. [10] Music can be used during second vespers, where the Alleluia Hodia Maria was sung, which also showed the popularity of the Regnat tenor that was used to invoke the second vespers, where the Flos filius euis tenor was generally sung. [11]  According to the early Christian Eucharist, it is possible that people used Hymns and verses of David to respond. In addition, a hymn Phos hiran was used for giving thanks for light. [12] It is argued that those, who do not have any musical training, as well as firsthand liturgical experience and, hence, have no information to understand how the monks performed during most of their time. [13]

The Reaction to the Music or Composer from the General Public and the Church

The church is normally receptive and becomes substantially happy, when Paul is with the church. The guidance given is believed to be a message from God. 

The church did not commission the composer to write music for the churchm but he offered himself as an instrument to be used by God to accomplish his mission for the early church during the medieval period. Thus, he sat down and composed the letters without the request of the church. [14]The composer was not actually employed in the church but had a divine call or commission by God to teach His people and guide His church. His services to the church and the society are, therefore, an expression of obedience and worship to God. The fact that he wrote letters means that the composer was not resident in the church. [15]

Analysis of a recording of one of the composer’s religious compositions:

“Paul said [1 cor. 13] If I speak with the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.’’

 In this lines Paul is being metaphorical in that the gong he talks about literary refers to ‘copper’ or ‘bronze’, while the cymbal represents tuneless noise makers. Both of these words refer to music. Paul’s audience would have known the meaning of this allusion in Paul’s statement, since they were predominantly Jewish. The instruments Paul is alluding to were also common in Greek during the pagan worship. In these musical lines, Paul is emphasizing to his audience on the role of exercising love for one another in the church as a form of their commitment to Christianity, which is a religion. In 1Cor. 14:6, Paul adds that:

“Now, brothers and sisters, if I (Paul) come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge or prophesy or teaching? [7] It is the same way with the lifeless instruments that produce sound such as the flute or the harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone now what is being played [8] and if the bugle (‘horn, trumpet’) gives an indirect sound who will get ready for battle?[9] So with yourselves: If in a tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is being said.’’

Paul again alludes to music, whereby, the mention of the flute and the harp are meant to implore the audience to think of the contemporary wing and stringed instruments. Paul’s religious message through this musical allusion is that they should be understandable people and not those, standing for anything or cannot be defined. [16]

Instruments Implied by the Composer

The instruments, which are being referred to in his song, were commonly used in the Old Testament during worship. He says those, who speak with tongues but fail to have love are likened to the gong, which can mean bronze, copper or charcoal. He also likens tem to cymbal, which are instruments that only make noise, but no good tune. [17] In 1 Corinthians 14 : 6,  Paul talks about ‘being lifeless instruments that produce sound’ such as the harp, ‘bugle’ or the flute The imageries used here draw the attention of the reader to the sounding of a plucked-stringed or wind instrument. [18] This can be interpreted from the words of a line in his song, ‘I am the instrument of your spirit, mind in your plectrum and your guidance makes music with me.’ 

Considering a celebration of the seven communions celebrated by the Catholic Church, the form of the piece would then be the In splendoribus, which is sung on the Christmas night. [19]

Meaning of dynamics, tempo, rhythms, melody, and timbres that you hear, using terms from class.

The song In splendoribus has melody, since the tones or notes presented come out in succession. This is because the chants have a great tonal coherence. [20] About the rhythms, the songs will appear to be coming in a separated manner, such as that in a Carolingian modal system, in which there are four of the chants, but will finally be classified in one mode. During the seven communions, just a handful of chants, which look similar in the remaining early communion repertory as a temporale, are needed to makes the communions prevalent. The tempo if the song is moderate, which is brought about by key C. [21] The song is composed to be presented at a high tempo, although it can be changed or adjusted.

Recording in the Broader Religious Context

The song is used in the celebration of the communions in the Catholic Church. The Music enhances the impression that Advent-Christmas day group is allowed to come together and form a compositional unit in the In splendoribus. The recording is specifically meant to be sung in the evening of the Christmas. The song will be chants which are short and lovely, yet with a substantial tonal coherence. The chants are composed using either key D or F, which, of course, means a brief existence, before it grows to reach upper C. That means that after the Christmas night, other composition groups take over.


During the medieval period and even today, religion has had a close relationship with the success of worship and progression of a religion. It was linked to various celebrations such as communions, namely Christmas. The church uses song during liturgy, in which the monk leads, while the congregation responds in harmony. Solomon’s Song of Songs comprises of songs, which he sings to his loved one, is also used in praise of the Virgin Mary during worship as their loved one. In particular, Paul, in his letters to the church, uses the metaphor of some musical elements to refer to some Christians, who are lacking in some Christian principles. There are several elements of the medieval age that were borrowed from the Judaism, hence, showing a common relationship between the ancient and medieval worship.


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