I was pleased recently when I learned that the favorite hymn of the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen was "Joy to the World" by Isaac Watts. I am also very fond of that carol. The majesty of its lyrics, in combination with its uplifting and assertive tune, combine to present the claims of Christ to the world in a magnificent way. It is truly a moving sermon in an unforgettable presentation.
We must never relegate music to anything less than a central part of life and worship. The Scriptures repeatedly tell us that we are to sing unto the Lord. We are told that the creation itself rejoices and sings out at the presence of the Lord (1 Chr. 16:32-33). When I was in high school, my church often sang Psalm 150 which commands the praising of God with trumpet, psaltery, harp, stringed instruments, timbrels, dance, cymbals, and organs. It concludes, "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord." To the psalmist, music was not a form of abstract expression. This robs it of the clear context of praise that Scripture puts it in. God does not want our abstract praise. Neither is music to be seen as merely a technical procedure or it loses its vitality and relevance for most people.
Scripture sees music as a necessary response of joy to God's majesty and grace. Not only the angels and the creation, but we His creatures must sing His praises. "Joy to the earth! the Savoir reigns. Let men their songs employ," Isaac Watts wrote. But if praise is an inevitable part of music, it must also be a necessary part of all life. Our response to God in worship must not be isolated to the worship service itself. The redeemed's response to God must display itself in all of life, for the totality of our life and being finds its meaning in Him. When Isaac Watts wrote, "Joy to the World," he expressed the glory of the incarnation, and gave a testimony of the person and work of Jesus Christ that reaches millions still.
We tend to like the music we grew up with. It became part of us in our youth. It is a form of self-identification as well as a form of communication and expression. If God demands music in His worship and there is music before the throne of God, certainly its value to man and his life cannot be legitimately marginalized.