Vol.IX No.X Pg.6
December 1972

Music Controversy

Robert F. Turner

In A.W. Fortunes book, The Disciples in Kentucky, (1932) he has much to say about cooperative efforts and the part they played in the division of brethren; but surprisingly little to say about instrumental music in the worship. I think conservative brethren of the last generation allowed the music issue to over shadow the true import of the society (really, churchhood projects issue) and were thus ill prepared for this generations battle.

But Fortune did recognize music controversy; as the following shows.

The introduction of the organ into the worship of the church was the occasion of a bitter controversy, and was one of the main causes of the division which finally came. It is impossible to state when instrumental music was first used in the worship of a Christian church. Dr. LL. Pinkerton is credited by some with having been the first to make this departure when he introduced a melodeon in the worship of the church at Midway.

Evidently the use of instrumental music was being discussed in other churches at this early date. John Rogers wrote Alexander Campbell in 1851 and urged him to commit himself on the subject of instrumental music in the worship of the churches and dancing in the home. He asked the question: Has the object of this warfare, for more than a quarter of a century been to introduce instrumental music into our meetinghouses, and the elegant, healthful, inoffensive, improving practice of social dancing into our families? In reply to that article, Mr. Campbell discussed dancing, but did not refer to instrumental music in the worship. In a later issue he copied an article, signed G, which defended the use of instrumental music in the worship, and replied in a sarcastic statement against it. He said, To all spiritually minded Christians, such aids would be as a cowbell in a concert.

The advocates of instrumental music in worship maintained that inasmuch as it was not forbidden in the New Testament it was proper to make use of it, if it contributed to the worship. In spite of all the opposition instrumental music was gradually introduced into the churches. Moses E. Lard, in an article in his quarterly in 1867 said, Our brethren are freely introducing melodeons into their Sunday schools. This is but the first step to the act, I fear. As soon as the children of these schools go into the church, in goes the instrument with them. He expressed the fear that the church would be wrecked the day the adverse side triumphs, and he added: I live in fear that it will do it. (Pp. 372, 373, 375.)

Instrumental music gradually became a part of the program of the churches. While many of the congregations divided, the church did not divide at that time. It was, however, one of the main causes of the division that came at a later time.

(Fortunes sectarian concept of church is apparent in the words, the church did not divide-- etc. STUDY!)