John Calvin on Music

John Calvin, the great Geneva Reformer, was a great thinker about all things church related. One of the things he thought and wrote about was music. He writes,

…Now among the other things proper to recreate man and give him pleasure, music is either the first or one of the principal, and we must think that it is a gift of God deputed to that purpose. For which reason we must be the more careful not to abuse it, for fear of soiling and contaminating it, converting it to our condemnation when it was dedicated to our profit and welfare. Were there no other consideration than this alone, it might well move us to moderate the use of music to make it serve all that is of good repute and that it should not be the occasion of our giving free reign to dissoluteness or of our making ourselves effeminate with disordered pleasures and that it should not become the instrument of lasciviousness or of any shamelessness. But there is still more, for there is hardly anything in the world with more power to turn or bend, this way and that, the morals of men, as Plato has prudently considered. And in fact we find by experience that it has a secret and almost incredible power to move our hearts in one way or another.


As a worship pastor, this last phrase is sobering and a bit unnerving, and it confirms what I have noted in my own experience. May we redeem this tool to the means for which it exists.


The web source is here.


Posted on August 18, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. “May we redeem this tool to the means for which it exists.”

    Which is to manipulate people into an emotional frenzy before we hit them up for money. A hearty “Amen!”

  2. Kyle, don’t be jaded–we call it “Worship Through Giving.”

  3. Indeed. This gives the worship band a wonderful opportunity to play a cover of a song by U2 or Life House.

    Sunday, bloody Sunday…

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