Tag Archives: Worship

The Purpose of Music in Worship

Hymn Ancient of Days

Excerpt from:  “Reforming Church Music”
A Paper presented at the 2001 Founders Conference

Ken Puls

God has purpose and intent in including music as an element of worship. The Bible has much to say about music and its role in worship. The following list summarizes seven roles that will help us define the purpose of music in worship.

1. Music is a primary means of praising God. The majority of references to music in the Bible, including verses that teach about music, as well as Psalms and other passages that are the texts to songs, are in the context of praising God. Through music we exalt, glorify, honor, bless, and adore God. We marvel at the perfection of His character, attributes, gifts, names, and works, ascribing to Him in song all that He is! The Psalter itself culminates in praise: 

Praise the LORD! 
Praise God in His sanctuary; 
Praise Him in His mighty firmament! 
Praise Him for His mighty acts; 
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! 
(Psalm 150:1–2)

Music exists first and foremost to the glory and praise of God and Scripture convincingly bears this out.

2. Music is a primary means of giving thanks to God. Thanksgiving is a grateful acknowledgment or public confession of the goodness of God manifest in what He has done for His people. It is a grateful response to God for His deliverance, healing, forgiveness, salvation, and other blessings that He brings to us. Music accompanies thanksgiving in worship:

Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart 
In the company of the upright and in the convocation. 
(Psalm 111:1)

Thanksgiving is also sung in the context of evangelism:

I will give thanks to You among the peoples, O Lord; 
I will sing praises to You among the nations. 
(Psalm 57:9)

As with praise, references in Scripture to giving thanks most often occur in song. 

3. Music serves as a means of prayer. Many of the songs and psalms of Scripture are addressed directly to God. David, for example, in Psalms 4 and 5 pours out his heart to God, brings petitions and asks for help and mercy. Throughout the Psalter, psalmists lament over sorrows, anguish over difficulties, confess their sinfulness, rejoice over God’s kindness, celebrate His goodness, and express numerous other emotions as they pour out their hearts before Him. Music can serve as invocation, petition, supplication, intercession, repentance, lamentation, and other forms of prayer, lifting our concerns before God.

4. Music serves as a means to proclaim truth. As we sing praise, thanksgiving, and prayer we voice our words to God, but music can also bring God’s Word to us. We can sing the words of Scripture, Psalms and other passages set to music. We can also teach and admonish one another in song with the truths of Scripture. Psalm 1, for example, is a didactic song that teaches us the difference between the blessed and the ungodly. Music helps us to remember and meditate on the truths of Scripture. It serves alongside preaching as a means of proclamation, edifying the church and evangelizing the lost, as it provides an emotional context in which we can interpret, understand, and express the truths of God’s Word. 

5. Music serves as a means of exhortation. Music lifts our words to God in prayer and brings God’s Word to us in proclamation, but it can also voice our words to one another. Psalm 95, for example, is a call to worship. We exhort one another with the words:

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! 
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; 
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 
(Psalm 95:1–2)

Through music God’s people speak to one another, stirring up one another to good works. Music can call us to worship, exhort us to love and serve one another, encourage us to live in obedience to God’s Word, admonish us to flee from sin and pursue holiness, and enjoin us to go out and witness and share the gospel.

6. Music serves as a means to confess our faith. With music God’s people can express common beliefs and doctrines as one voice. In the Old Testament Israel rehearsed their faith and history through music. Psalm 118, for example, is a public confession of the goodness and enduring mercy of God. The New Testament contains several confessional statements such as 2 Timothy 2:11 that many scholars believe are fragments of early hymns. Music provides an effective way to unite in declaring our confessions of faith. 

Perhaps the most notable example of this in church history is the “Doxology,” written by Thomas Ken in 1709, a musical affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

7. Finally, music serves as a means of enriching worship with beauty. According to Scripture, singing praise to God is pleasant and beautiful. Psalm 147:1 reads: 

Praise the LORD! 
For it is good to sing praises to our God; 
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

It is good when we unite our voices together in singing to God. Music provides a beautiful garb in which we dress our words and actions in worship. It is a pleasant means of joining together to express our love and devotion to God in worship.These are seven roles or functions of music that God affirms in His Word. God has commanded us to make music and included it in His design for worship. It is not the purpose of music to amuse, manipulate, or entertain us in worship. God has given us music that we might beautifully lift our praise, thanksgiving, and prayers to Him; that we might proclaim the truth of His Word, confess our faith, and exhort one another to good works as we gather in corporate worship.


Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from 
The New King James Version® (NKJV™), copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Excerpt Citation

Ken Puls, “Reforming Church Music,” in Reclaiming the Gospel and Reforming Churches: The Southern Baptist Founders Conference, 1982–2002, ed. Tom Ascol (Cape Coral, FL: Founders Press, 2003), 438–442.

The book Reclaiming the Gospel and Reforming Churches is a compilation of papers presented over the first 25 years of the Founders Conference and is available for purchase from Founders Press.

The Sound of Worship

Drums and Cymbals

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 150)

[This excerpt is from a sermon on Psalm 150 entitled “The Sound of Worship.” You can read the full sermon here]

Psalm 150 anticipates the coming of Christ and foresees the day when God’s praise will cover the earth. Jesus said that “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). This psalm, like all the psalms, points us to Christ. The final words of Psalm 150 anticipate Christ’s words in the Great Commission.  The psalmist calls upon “everything that has breath” to “praise the Lord.” In Mark 16:15 Jesus commands His disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” We are to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). Psalm 150 finds its ultimate fulfillment in the conquering grace of Christ displayed in His church.

Church history is a testimony to the fulfillment of Psalm 150. God is at work sanctifying instruments and voices from every tribe and tongue, culture and nation for His glory. He is continually adding new voices, new instruments, new cultures, and new songs to the tapestry of His praise through the ages.

The fulfillment of Psalm 150, however, has not been without opposition. Satan has been enraged and at war with church since its beginning (Revelation 12). It has been his scheme to thwart the spread of God’s praise. He has attempted to shroud the world in darkness so that men remain blind to truth. He has sought to hinder the spread of the gospel so that men remain in bondage to their sin. He has sought to distort truth about God so that men believe and sing lies. And he has cast doubt on music (especially the use of musical instruments) miring them in sinful associations.

In the early days of the church, many musical instruments from Greek and Roman culture were associated with pagan worship and pagan cults. The aulos (a wind instrument like the flute) was used in the worship of the goddess Diana.  The lyre (a stringed instrument) was said to be played by the Greek god Apollo. Many Christian writers and commentators of the first three centuries condemned such instruments based on their associations with pagan rituals. Some presented farfetched explanations and allegories in an attempt to reinterpret passages like Psalm 150, that include clear commands to worship God with musical instruments. (An excellent resource is: Music in Early Christian Literature by James McKinnon, Cambridge University Press, 1987.)

Throughout the history of the church, well-intended arguments have been made that certain musical instruments are incompatible with worship. Some have tried to constrict the Regulative Principle so that it excludes the use of musical instruments in the church altogether.  Drums, guitars, banjos, kazoos, and even the piano have been scorned and disparaged. 

One musical instrument that was slow to be accepted by the church to accompany praise to God was the organ. This may be surprising, since today the organ is regarded as the grandest musical instrument of the church.

“The organ was invented around the 3rd century BC. Back then it was designed to use water rather than air in the pipes and was called the hydraulis. The water organ was quite loud and was used most prominently in the amphitheaters. 

“During the time of the Roman Empire it was used to accompany the processions and events at the gladiatorial games. Some ballparks today use the organ in a similar way to create a festive atmosphere—to signal and stir up the crowd. It was to the celebrative sounds of the organ that many Christians were paraded in before cheering crowds to be martyred. 

“So you can imagine the difficulties with association that early Christians must have had whenever someone finally had the idea to introduce the organ into church as a worship instrument. How could this instrument that accompanied so much death, ever be used in worship?

“But God had a purpose for the pipe organ. He designed to rescue that instrument and use it for His glory. Rome was sacked in 410 and the empire fell over the next 150 years. The organ was finally brought into the church around 7th century AD—well after the fall of Rome. It was not until the 1300s that the first organ was permanently installed in a church. But for hundreds of years after, the pipe organ was a prominent instrument in carrying the praise of God’s people.” (from Thoughts on Music and Worship)

The reality is that there are no musical instruments that cannot be used to worship God, only instruments that are incompatible with our comfort zone and expectations as to what worship music should sound like.

Certainly, we want to use music wisely.  We want to be like the sons of Issachar and have “an understanding of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32). We want to employ music in ways that will adorn worship and serve our singing, not hinder worship and obscure the words we are singing. The inscriptions on the psalms in Scripture teach us to be intentional in our musical arrangements. In an earlier study on the Psalm Inscriptions, I concluded:

“The psalms set a musical precedent for worship that God will accomplish in fuller measure in the New Testament through the church. Throughout church history, God has added and continues to add many musical styles and sounds to His praise. As the gospel goes out in the power of God’s Spirit, conquering hearts and lives, people from each generation and from every tribe and tongue and nation add their voice to the music of the church. There is not one sound that is solely sacred, but a vast array of musical composition that God is weaving into a tapestry of praise for His glory.” (from Lessons from the Psalm Inscriptions: Titles of Interpretation).

The sanctification of music—musical expression, musical styles, musical instruments—to the praise and glory of God is an outcome of the spread of the gospel and fulfillment of the Great Commission. 

Some will still ask: Where are the musical instruments in the New Testament? Where in the New Testament do we find precedent for using them in the church? Musical instruments are there, of course. They are inherent in the New Testament fulfillment of God’s commands to fill the earth with His praise. They are implied in Paul’s admonitions to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19). And they are explicit in John’s descriptions of music in heaven (Revelation 5:8; 8:2, 6; 9:14; 14:2, and 15:2). But it should come as no surprise that the New Testament doesn’t provide an orchestration for music in the church. The New Testament emphasizes the spiritual nature of worship and sees it spread to the ends of the earth. Unlike the worship music of the Old Testament that was specific to one place (the tabernacle / Temple), music in the New Testament is adaptable to every place—everywhere there is breath!

  • We don’t have descriptions as to how to build our buildings and worship spaces.
  • We don’t have orders of worship to plan and design our services.
  • And we don’t have specific instruments designated as necessary and sacred.

There may be times when the church is not able to use musical instruments. They may be scarce. There may not be skilled musicians available to play them. Most of the first three centuries of the church, believers faced severe persecution and had to worship in secret. Loud instruments and music would have needlessly attracted attention.

As the gospel goes out and conquers hearts and lives, where there are musical instruments, they should be sanctified and employed for God’s praise. Where there are no musical instruments, God can still be worshipped with voices alone. He is sovereignly orchestrating His praise throughout the ages and around the world. All glory is His!

[This excerpt is from a sermon on Psalm 150 entitled “The Sound of Worship.” You can read the full sermon here]

More Sermons and Articles by Ken Puls

The Joys of Corporate Worship Part 3

Hymnal and Bible

Open your Bibles this evening to Psalm 43. Tonight, we return to our study of Psalm 42 and 43. These two psalms are two halves of a single psalm. Together they form a lament with 3 stanzas and 3 refrains. 

In this psalm, the psalmist expresses sorrow. He is afflicted and oppressed. He is separated from the people of God. And he is providentially hindered from being in Jerusalem at a time when the nation is gathering to worship God. His heart longs to “go with the throng” and join with the “multitude observing the pilgrim festival.”

In this study we are specifically interested in what we can learn about worship. What are the joys that come from corporate worship? What are the blessings that the psalmist longs for and desires to experience again?

In the first stanza in Psalm 42:1-4 and its refrain in verse 5, we looked at the first joy of corporate worship: The Joy of Seeking God and Delighting in Him Together.

The Psalmist longed to be in God’s presence in the midst of God’s people. His chief joy in worship was seeking God and delighting in God with the people of God.

When God brought Israel out of bondage and established them as a people, He promised to be their God, to be near them, to tabernacle among them. This great truth—God dwells with His people—fills the Old Testament and finds its fulfillment in the coming of Christ, the Messiah, who is Immanuel, “God with us.”

The presence of God with His people was the psalmist’s greatest joy in worship.

In the second stanza in Psalm 42 (verses 6-10) and the second refrain in verse 11, we discover his second joy—The Joy of Finding Strength and Encouragement in Times of Suffering.

The psalmist remembered the times and places where God had brought deliverance to His people. He was encouraged and drew strength when he saw and heard about God working in the lives of His people. 

He also longed to return to worship so he himself could testify of God’s goodness in delivering him from his trial. He desired that his own suffering be turned to praise and thanksgiving. He looked forward to the time when he could bring a peace offering of thanksgiving and testify to the gathered congregation that God had heard and answered his prayer. All the people of God would rejoice and give thanks when they saw him—his joy and thanksgiving to God would be multiplied many times over in the context of corporate worship! His experience would bring encouragement and strength to others who were facing difficulty. 

This evening we are going to consider the third joy of corporate worship. It is found in the third stanza (Psalm 43:1–4) and the final refrain (43:5): The Joy of Walking Together in Light and Truth.

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The Joys of Corporate Worship Part 2

Bible and Hymnal in Church Pew

Open your Bibles this evening to Psalm 42 and 43. Last time I had an opportunity to bring God’s Word to you, we began a study of these two psalms as they relate to corporate worship. The psalmist who composed Psalm 42 and 43 was one of the sons of Korah. He was providentially hindered from being in Jerusalem and thus could not take part in the pilgrim festivals of Israel and worship God with all those who gathered. He was in the midst of trial and persecution, and was separated, at least for a time, from the people of God. As he pours out his lament and seeks God’s help, he reveals his longing to worship God with the multitude in Jerusalem. He reveals, as well, why corporate worship is so precious to him.

This evening I want us to once again consider the joys of corporate worship.

What is it about corporate worship—

That worship of God that we enjoy, as we gather at certain times in a designated place to seek God together, to sing and pray together, and to hear God’s Word read and taught together

What is it about corporate worship that is so necessary and desirable? Why does the psalmist long for worship in the company of God’s people? 

If you remember, last time I left you with a question. We understand from Scripture that God is present everywhere. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. God was near the psalmist as he poured out his lament. So, what is this thirst that the psalmist has for God and His presence?

Why does he long to meet with God in a setting of corporate worship?

Is it really as important as the psalmist seems to indicate, that we gather together to seek God? Is it really necessary to worship God as a gathered church?

OR          Can we worship God just as well apart from each other,

                  in the privacy of our own hearts and in our own homes?

I hope to demonstrate for you as we continue to work through this psalm, that corporate worship really is necessary in God’s design of worship, both in the Old and New Testaments. It is essential that we come together as God’s people, as His gathered church to seek Him in worship. There are joys and blessings that we will miss and sorely lack if we neglect the frequent and consistent meeting together of the visible church in this place.

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The Joys of Corporate Worship Part 1

Church Sanctuary in Sunlight

When you think about corporate worship, what first comes to mind?

When you are providentially hindered and unable to attend, what do you miss?

When you made the effort to come to the service today, what motivated you to attend?

What brings you the most joy in corporate worship?

Please open your Bibles to Psalm 42. Tonight, we begin a brief series from Psalm 42 and 43 on “The Joys of Corporate Worship.” These two psalms may at first seem like an unlikely source to learn about corporate worship. They are not composed by one who is in the midst of God’s people, enjoying the blessings of gathered worship. They are rather a lament of one who is providentially hindered from joining in worship—he is prevented from being in Jerusalem and is, at least temporarily, separated from the people of God.

In this lament the psalmist pours out his heart to God and reveals his longing to return to Jerusalem and gather once again with the people of God in worship. Through his words, we are taught what should be most desirable about worship. We learn why corporate worship is so necessary for the people of God.

Psalm 42 and 43 are actually a single psalm made up of three sections. Each section ends with a similar refrain. In each section the psalmist sings about an aspect of worship that he especially misses and longs to experience again.

The Joys of Corporate Worship.

I.  (42:1-4)  The Joy of Seeking and Delighting in God together.
(42:5) Refrain

II. (42:6-10)   The Joy of Strength and Encouragement in time
of suffering.
(42:11) Refrain

III. (43:1-4) The Joy of Light and Truth
(43:5) Refrain

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Treasuring the Gathering of the Church

Bible and Hymnal

These past few weeks have reminded me again how much I treasure the gathering of the church. I don’t so much miss going to a building, though buildings can be beautiful places to gather. I miss being with the gathered people of God—coming together to pray, sing, fellowship, and hear the preaching of God’s Word. It is a great kindness of God to allow us to walk together through this life, to share one another’s burdens, to comfort and encourage one another. 

I’m praying that God will bring a swift end to the pandemic in days ahead, so we can once again gather as a church without fear of inadvertently doing one another harm. But even more, I’m praying that God will remind us how beloved the church is, that we would learn more deeply to treasure one another in Christ.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

Psalm 122:1

How Dear and Treasured in the Church

How dear and treasured is the church,
With voices joined in praise and prayers,
For God has made us one in Christ, 
To share our sorrows, joys and cares. 

Entrusted with the truth of God,
Called out to make the gospel known,
We boldly as His church proclaim:
There’s grace and hope in Christ alone!

God fashions us as living stones; 
Assembled as His dwelling place.
Though we were dead, He gives us life,
Each soul a miracle of grace.

Built as a buttress of the truth,
A pillar rising to the sky,
God sets His church before the world,
His Word and name to magnify.

To all the world we testify,
Our lives display in word and deed
The matchless worth of knowing Christ,
The boundless depth of our great need.

Brought near to God by Christ’s shed blood,
Loved and adopted as His own,
A household built upon the Word,
With Christ Himself the Cornerstone.

Built on this Rock, the church will stand,
The gates of hell shall not prevail,
All who are Christ’s shall be raised up,
The Word of God will never fail.

Words ©2017 Ken Puls

Download the lyrics and free sheet music for this hymn, including an arrangement of the tune ERHALT UNS HERR for classical guitar.

More Hymns and Songs by Ken Puls

Songs and the Trinity

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

Throughout the ages the church has confessed that there is One God in Three Persons. We declare it in our creeds:

“I believe in God the Father, Almighty, 
Creator of heaven and earth. 
And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
Born of the Virgin Mary;
Suffered under Pontius Pilate;
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
He descended into hell;
On the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And is seated at the right hand of God 
the Father Almighty;
From there He will come 
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic church;
The communion of saints;
The forgiveness of sins;
The resurrection of the body;
And life everlasting.
Amen.”

The Apostle’s Creed

We affirm it in our confessions of faith:

“In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence, yet the essence undivided: the Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son; all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties and personal relations; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him.”

1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, 2:3

And we celebrate it in our songs. Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of the Trinity: One God in Three Persons. This List is from my Theological Index of Music for Worship. If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of the Trinity that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for Songs and the Trinity in the Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

Songs and the Trinity: There is one God in Three Persons 

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • Angels from the Realms of Glory (James Montgomery)
  • Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation (Latin Hymn – 7th C / J M Neale)
  • Come Praise and Glorify (Bob Kauflin / Tim Chester) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Come, Thou Almighty King (Anonymous)
  • God, Our Father, We Adore Thee (G W Frazer / A S Loizeaux)
  • Holy God, We Praise Your Name—Te Deum(Anonymous / I Franz / C Walworth)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (Reginald Heber)
  • Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now (Anonymous / Catherine Winkworth)
  • We Believe—Apostles Creed (Keith and Kristyn Getty / Stuart Townend) 

2.  The work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Creation

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (Reginald Heber)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J M Neale / H Baker)
  • We Believe—Apostles Creed (Keith and Kristyn Getty / Stuart Townend) 

3.  The work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Salvation

  • All Glory Be to Thee Most High—Gloria in Excelsis (Latin Hymn)
  • Behold, My Soul (Ken Puls) to DUANE STREET • Ken Puls Music
  • Come Praise and Glorify (Bob Kauflin / Tim Chester) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • God, Our Father, We Adore Thee (G W Frazer / A S Loizeaux)
  • Heavenly Father, Beautiful Son (Mark Altrogge) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • Only Jesus (Doug Plank) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Savior of the Nations, Come (Ambrose of Milan / M Luther / W M Reynolds)
  • There Is a Redeemer (Melody Green)
  • We Believe—Apostles Creed (Keith and Kristyn Getty / Stuart Townend) 
  • Wonderful, Merciful Savior (Dawn Rogers / Eric Wyse) 

4.  Prayer to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

  • All Glory Be to Thee Most High—Gloria in Excelsis (Latin Hymn)
  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Come, Thou Almighty King (Anonymous)
  • God, Our Father, We Adore Thee (G W Frazer / A S Loizeaux)
  • Heavenly Father, Beautiful Son (Mark Altrogge) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Holy God, We Praise Your Name—Te Deum(Anonymous / I Franz / C Walworth)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (Reginald Heber)
  • Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word (Martin Luther / Catherine Winkworth)
  • O God, We Praise Thee—Te Deum (Anonymous – 5th C)
  • Only Jesus (Doug Plank) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Wonderful, Merciful Savior (Dawn Rogers / Eric Wyse)

5.  Praise and adoration to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • Alleluia! Alleluia! (Christopher Wordsworth)
  • Angels from the Realms of Glory (James Montgomery)
  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation (Latin Hymn – 7th C / J M Neale)
  • Come Praise and Glorify (Bob Kauflin / Tim Chester) • Sovereign Grace Music 
  • Come, Thou Almighty King (Anonymous)
  • Doxology (Thomas Ken)
  • God, Our Father, We Adore Thee (G W Frazer / A S Loizeaux)
  • Holy God, We Praise Your Name—Te Deum(Anonymous / I Franz / C Walworth)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy (Reginald Heber)
  • Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now (Anonymous / Catherine Winkworth)
  • O God, We Praise Thee—Te Deum (Anonymous – 5th C)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J M Neale / H Baker)
  • Savior of the Nations, Come (Ambrose of Milan / M Luther / W M Reynolds)
  • The God of Abraham Praise (Thomas Olivers)
  • Wonderful, Merciful Savior (Dawn Rogers / Eric Wyse)

The next post in the series will be Songs and God’s Uniqueness—He alone is God.

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the online Index:

Entry for “Songs and the Trinity”

TOC for Index Theology and Song

Wondrous King All-Glorious

Mountain and Lake

Wondrous King, all glorious,
Sovereign Lord victorious,
O, receive our praise with favor!

These words begin a glorious hymn of praise composed by the German Reformed hymn-writer Joachim Neander (1650–1680). According to John Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology, the hymn was based on Psalm 150:6, and intended for “Thanksgiving” with the original title: “Inciting oneself to the Praise of God.” It was published in 1680 (the year of Neander’s death) in a collection with other hymns that he had written, including “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”

Neander composed both the tune and the text for “Wondrous King All-Glorious.” The first 16 measures of the tune are based on an often-used chord progression of his day. It is the same chord progression that Johann Pachelbel also adapted and made famous in his “Canon in D.” Pachelbel’s Canon was written sometime in the 1680s, near the time Neander’s tune was composed.

Wondrous King, All-Glorious

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
(Psalm 150:6)

Wondrous King, all glorious,
Sovereign Lord victorious,
O, receive our praise with favor!
From thee welled God’s kindness
Though we in our blindness
Strayed from Thee, our blessed Savior.
Strengthen Thou,
Help us now;
Let our tongues be singing,
Thee our praises bringing.

Heavens, spread the story
Of our Maker’s glory,
All the pomp of earth obscuring.
Sun, thy rays be sending,
Thy bright beams expending,
Light to all the earth assuring.
Moon and star,
Praise afar
Him who glorious made you;
The vast heavens aid you.

O my soul, rejoicing,
Sing, thy praises voicing,
Sing, with hymns of faith adore Him!
All who here have being,
Shout, your voices freeing,
Bow down in the dust before Him.
He is God
Sabaoth;
Praise alone the Savior,
Here and there forever.

Hallelujahs render
To the Lord most tender,
Ye who know and love the Savior.
Hallelujahs sing ye,
Ye redeemed, O, bring ye
Hearts that yield Him glad behavior.
Blest are ye
Endlessly;
Sinless there forever,
Ye shall laud Him ever.


“Wondrous King, All-Glorious” 
Words and Music by Joachim Neander, 1680
Translated by William J. Schaefer, 1938
Tune: WUNDERBARER KÖNIG (6.6.8.6.6.8.3.3.6.6.)
©Public Domain

Download free sheet music (PDF) for this hymn, including guitar chord charts, an arrangement of the hymn tune WUNDERBARER KÖNIG for classical guitar, and an arrangement for the tune for instrumental ensemble.

More Hymns from History

Songs and God’s Word

Open Bible on Table with Hymn Tune: How Firm a Foundation

This is the second post from my Theological Index of Music for Worship

Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of Scripture: Special Revelation. The songs are arranged under 17 theological statements, including one for which I have not yet found related songs  

If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of Scripture that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for Songs and God’s Word in the Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

If you missed the first post, you can read it here: Songs and God’s Creation.

Songs and God’s Word: Special Revelation 

1.  God’s Word is divine revelation, given by inspiration of God—it is God breathed

  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett) 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • With Grateful Heart My Thanks I Bring—Psalm 138 (The Psalter, 1912) 

2. God’s Word is our final rule of faith and life—it is our final authority

  • How Firm a Foundation (Rippon’s Selection of Hymns) 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 

3. God’s Word is infallible—it is incapable of error or failing

  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)

4. God’s Word is inerrant—it is without error or failing

  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Most Perfect Is the Law of God—Psalm 19:7–11 and 119:97 (The Psalter 1912)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) Ken Puls Music 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

5. God’s Word is complete—nothing is ever to be added to Scripture

  • How Firm a Foundation (Rippon’s Selection of Hymns) 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

6. God’s Word is all-sufficient—it teaches all that is necessary for salvation and life eternal

  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • With Grateful Heart My Thanks I Bring—Psalm 138 (The Psalter, 1912)

7. God’s Word is efficacious—it accomplished God’s purposes and does not return void 

  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

8. God’s Word is perspicuous—it is sufficiently clear upon essential matters of faith and practice

  • Most Perfect Is the Law of God—Psalm 19:7–11 and 119:97 (The Psalter 1912)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

9. God’s Word must be illumined by the Spirit of God if we are to rightly understand and apply it

  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Break Thou the Bread of Life (Mary Lathbury)
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak (Francis Havergal)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth—Psalm 119:33–40 (The Psalter 1912)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

10. God’s Word is its own best interpreter—the infallible rule for interpreting Scripture is Scripture itself

11. God’s Word is profitable for doctrine, corrections, reproof, and instruction in righteousness

  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Teach Me O Lord Thy Way of Truth—Psalm 119:33–40 (The Psalter 1912)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)

12. God’s Word is Christ-centered—Scripture (the written Word) points us to Christ (the incarnate Word)

  • Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word (Tobias Clausnitzer / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Break Thou the Bread of Life (Mary Lathbury)
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

13. God’s Word is life-giving and powerful, able to defeat the powers of darkness.

  • A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Martin Luther / Frederick Hedge)
  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Twas God that Made the Ocean (George B. Bubier)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

14. God’s Word is a message for all peoples to be proclaimed in every tongue.

  • Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak (Francis Havergal)
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Wonderful Words of Life (Sing Them Over Again to Me) (Philip Bliss)
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

15. God’s Word is the Sword of the Spirit, arming us for spiritual battle.

  • Lord, We Come to Hear Your Word (Ken Puls / Drew Hodge) • Ken Puls Music / Desert Springs 
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Standing on the Promises (R. Kelso Carter)
  • We Have an All-Sufficient Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Your Word Is Like a Garden Lord (Edwin Hodder)

16. God’s Word is our light and guide for how we are live and walk in this world.

  • Ancient Words (Lynn DeShazo) 
  • Every Promise (Keith Getty / Stuart Townend) 
  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Holy Bible, Book Divine (John Burton)
  • How Precious Is the Book Divine (John Fawcett)
  • How Shall the Young Direct Their Ways? —Psalm 119:9–16 (The Psalter 1912)
  • O Spirit, Now We Thank You (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • O Word of God Incarnate (William Walsham How)
  • Sufficient Is the Word of God (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory, Lord—Psalm 19(Isaac Watts)
  • The Spirit Breathes upon the Word (William Cowper)
  • Two Voices Cry Out to Be Heard (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Vast the Riches of God’s Word (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)
  • Your Word Is Like a Garden Lord (Edwin Hodder)

17. God’s Word stands forever—it is eternal.

  • Every Promise (Keith Getty / Stuart Townend) 
  • Father of Mercies in Thy Word (Anne Steele)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • God in the Gospel of His Son (Benjamin Beddome / Thomas Cotterill)
  • Speak, O Lord (Stuart Townend / Keith Getty) 
  • Word of God, Across the Ages (Ferdinand Blanchard)

The next post in the series will be Songs and The Trinity—One God in Three Persons.

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the Theological Index of Music and Worship online:

Entry for “Songs and God’s Word”

TOC forIndex—Theology and Song

Songs and God’s Creation

Open Bible and hymn near an ocean at sunset

This is the first of what I hope to be many posts exploring the connection between music for worship and the study of theology. Below is a list of psalm settings, hymns, and spiritual songs that teach on the doctrine of creation: natural revelation. The songs are arranged under 16 theological statements, including 5 statements for which I have not yet found related songs.  

If you have additional suggestions for songs related to the doctrine of creation that should be included in the index, please comment or send me a message.

Note: The songs are listed below by title and author. For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the page for “Songs and God’s Creation” in Theology and Song: A Theological Index of Music for Worship online. I will be updating the online Index with more songs and topics in the days ahead as I receive recommendations. 

Songs and God’s Creation: Natural Revelation 

1. Creation affirms that there is a Creator—God created heaven and earth

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil F Alexander)
  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)
  • God, the Lord, a King Remaineth—Psalm 93 (John Keble)
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • The Spacious Firmament on High (Joseph Addison)
  • This Is My Father’s World (Maltbie Babcock)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)
  • With Glory Clad, With Strength Arrayed—Psalm 93 (Tate and Brady’s New Version)
  • Wondrous King, All-Glorious (Joachim Neander / William Schaefer)

2. Creation glorifies God—all things exist for His glory and praise

  • All Creatures of Our God and King (St. Francis of Assisi / William H Draper)
  • All Glory to You (Steve and Vikki Cook) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell—Psalm 100 (William Kethe / Thomas Ken)
  • All that I Am I Owe to Thee—Psalm 134:14–24 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)
  • Behold Our God (Ryan, Jonathan & Meghan Baird / Stephen Altrogge) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim—Psalm 135 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • For the Beauty of the Earth (Folliott Sandford Pierpoint)
  • From All That Dwell Below the Skies—Psalm 117 (Isaac Watts)
  • God, the Lord, a King Remaineth—Psalm 93 (John Keble)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J. Neale / H. Baker)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Jonann Schütz / Francis Cox)
  • The Spacious Firmament on High (Joseph Addison)
  • This Is My Father’s World (Maltbie Babcock)
  • With Songs and Honors Sounding Loud—Psalm 147 (Isaac Watts)
  • Wondrous King, All-Glorious (Joachim Neander / William Schaefer)

3. Creation testifies of God’s wisdom and design

  • All that I Am I Owe to Thee—Psalm 134:14–24 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

4. The testimony of creation is insufficient for knowing the way of salvation.

  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

5. The testimony of creation leaves man inexcusable

  •  

6. God delights in creation—all things were made for His pleasure

  • All Glory to You (Steve and Vikki Cook) • Sovereign Grace Music
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

7. God made all of creation and pronounced it good

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)

8. The world was spoken into existence by God’s Word.

  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Prudentius / J. Neale / H. Baker)
  • Vast the Immensity, Mirror of Majesty (Edmund Clowney)

9. The world was created by God ex nihilio (out of nothing).

  •  

10. The world continues to be upheld and sustained by God

  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (Cecil F Alexander)
  • Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim—Psalm 135 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Forever Settled in the Heavens—Psalm 119:89–97 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
  • Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah—Psalm 146 (The Psalter, 1912)
  • Hast Thou Not Known, Hast Thou Not Heard (Isaac Watts)
  • I Sing the Mighty Power of God (Isaac Watts)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above (Jonann Schütz / Francis Cox)
  • With Glory Clad, With Strength Arrayed—Psalm 93 (Tate and Brady’s New Version)
  • With Songs and Honors Sounding Loud—Psalm 147 (Isaac Watts)

11. God creates all people—He is the One who gives and sustains all life.

  • All People That on Earth Do Dwell—Psalm 100 (William Kethe / Thomas Ken)
  • Let All Things Now Living (Katherine Davis • Welsh melody)
  • Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Joachim Neander / Catherine Winkworth)

12. God created man (male and female) out of the dust of the earth 

  • Before Jehovah’s Awful Throne—Psalm 100 (Isaac Watts / John Wesley)

13. Man was breathed into a living being by God.

14. God made man (male and female) in His own image

  •  

15. God gave man dominion over all other living things on the earth.

  •  

16. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

  • Today We Gather in This Place (Ken Puls) • Ken Puls Music

_______________

The next post in the series will be “Songs and God’s Word: Special Revelation.”

For more complete entries (including tunes and hymnal page numbers) see the Theological Index of Music and Worship online:

Entry for “Songs and God’s Creation”

TOC for Index: Theology and Song