Let Men Their Songs Employ

By Mark R. Rushdoony
March 01, 2001

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.

Topics: Church, The, Media / Arts

Mark R. Rushdoony

Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.

He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.

In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at

He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.

Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 43 years with his wife of 45 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.

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