Music in SDA Worship

 Copyrighted by IAMA and Dan Shultz. Please acknowledge source (www. when using information from this listing and other areas of the web site. Thank You.

Adventist Hymnody (print-only version)

A Chronology

Click here for a PDF version of this article. Click here for a PDF viewer, if needed.


 Hymn Singing in the Early Adventist Church and Ellen White

Stanley D. Hickerson  200


The 1985 SDA Hymnal

The Making of The SDA Hymnal

Wayne Hooper

 The New SDA Hymnal

Ottilie Stafford

Hymnal Committee Members

Companion to the SDA Hymnal


Organs and Their Masters in the SDA Church

Warren Becker/Dan Shultz

Click here for a PDF version of this article Click here for a PDF viewer, if needed.


1966 General Conference Session Music

From Battle Creek to Detroit: 150 miles and 103 Years Later


1995 General Conference Session Music

Music at Utrecht


2000 General Conference Session Music

Click here for PDF of Music at Toronto

The music at the 2000 General Conference Session in Toronto was chosen to create the festive feel of a truly global multi-cultural spiritual gathering. The reaction to the experience was mixed, with some seeing it as a healthy expression of global and generational diversity and others viewing it as part of an ongoing musical apostasy. Those viewpoints were expressed in the following articles which were published in the Summer/Autumn 2000 and Winter/Spring 2001 issues of Notes, a publication of IAMA.


A Glimpse of Things to Come?

The Music was Wonderful

A Secular flavor

A Global Music Paradox

Choosing the Music for Toronto

Other Music at Toronto

A Personal View: A Reflection in Diversity


Twenty Centuries of Living Hymns

Lilliane Doukhan

 Ten Thousand Watts and More: the Power of Isaac Watts

Kenneth Logan

Organs and Their Masters in the SDA Church

Warren Becker/Dan Shultz


  The Worship Service

In a society where rapid change causes seismic reactions almost daily, it is inevitable that even the most time-honored traditions in worship music should be affected. While tensions between the musical tastes of trained musicians, clergy, and those in the pews have existed for centuries, the resulting evolutionary adjustments have been for the most part gradual and seemingly appropriate. At critical moments, however, dramatic changes and shifts have shaken and shaped worship music. Martin Luther and the Reformation, Palestrina and the Council of Trent, J. S. Bach and his writings - each ushered in dramatic changes.

The developments of the last part of the 20th Century have been gaining acceptance in the primary worship hour. Are the scuffles over this development part of another revolution in worship music? Or are they momentary tempests over passing worship and music fads? Is the future of traditional church worship music at a crossroads? Or are both sides overreacting and overstating the situation?

The views of SDA musicians and clergy who have grappled with these and other questions, presented in several issues of Notes, IAMA’s magazine, are listed below. Given the nature of the topic, it is inevitable that their opinions, which are deeply felt and personal, will be dramatically different. While no final answers are presented perhaps the viewpoints they have expressed will be helpful in the ongoing dialogue over the challenging issue of music in worship.

Dan Shultz,  Editor, Notes


Church Music in Turmoil . . . Searching for Solutions

Marvin L. Robertson

"The issues being debated today are as far reaching in their consequences as the issues relating to liturgy and the music were during the Reformation."


Historical Perspectives on Change in Worship Music

Lillianne Doukhan

Change will happen anyway, with or without us; it is a fact. Instead of refusing change and thus provoking revolt, we should become a part of it, and make it happen in a responsible manner.


Worship: A Personal View

Dennis Hunt

"I believe that the format of the \\\'praise\\\' service is much closer to the service of our early Advent pioneers than are traditional services."


 Worship Music at Celebration Center

Dan Simpson

"Some have accused us of using the instruments of the devil. I have decided that these kinds of accusations are made by people who are preservers of the past or people who are afraid of intimacy - especially in the worship setting."


Contemporary Christian Music and Worship

Jeffrey K. Lauritzen

"Even a scripturally sound text, when wedded to an inappropriate musical vehicle, becomes a theological ‘Babylon,’ a mixture of good and evil - truth and error."


Music That Worships, People That Worship, People That Worship Music, Music That Peoples Worship

James Teel

Music shall relate to the majority of worshipers on a comfortable culture level. . . .

The crucial question every worship leader must ask himself or herself is whether or not their cherished style of music is honestly fulfilling the worship needs of their congregation and enlivening the church body toward service.


Ten Commandments for Choosing Worship Music

James Teel

Practical guideline for choosing music, as listed by the author at the end of his article, Music that Worships, People that Worship, People that Worship Music, Music that Peoples Worship, which is also posted on this website.


The Controversial Angel

Dwight K. Nelson

Who says that rock \\\'n roll is the only musical language this generation understands or accepts? Who says we are beholden to communicate the glory and majesty and holiness and love and mercy of God through the pounding rhythms and pulsating decibels of rock music?


Worship Style and Culture

Calvin B. Rock

The principles of dignity, harmony, symmetry, education, and, most of all, reverence expounded in the Word of God and in the counsel of Ellen White should characterize all forms of worship, including music.


Music is a Language

Roy Adams

Every service we perform for the church should be regarded as a "commercial" - a commercial for the King of kings. And our audience should be clear about what we are trying to say, whether it be in a Bible study, a sermon, or a musical rendition.

An Adventist Review editorial with response letters and a follow-up editorial . . .


An Unnecessary Conflict

Bert Williams

Using the music of heaven as a benchmark, there may not be nearly as much relative difference as some like to imagine between what they presently deem superior and inferior music.


Reflections on Style in Worship

Harold Lickey

"Within the realm of what is appropriate in God’s presence there is room for variety in expressive and cultural styles. . . No matter the variety or cultural setting, though, the praise and thanksgiving expressed by the redeemed should reflect the majesty of heaven and the breadth and depth of God’s loving nature."


 Worship Music Perspectives

Ruimar DePaiva

"We must make an effort to be open to looking at the issue of sacred music from all perspectives, remembering that people see and experience things differently, depending on age, previous musical exposure, and cultural background."


Christians and Music

Carlyle Manous

To please God in our worship I believe we must understand and appreciate both His transcendence and His immanence; both are true and both are necessary for a "complete" view of God.


Music and the Gospel

H. Lloyd Leno

God gave us the gift of music to be used to proclaim his messages. In order to nurture the talent of music and insure a high level of performance, a music education program is essential to the church. Nothing in regard to the worship of God, including music, is to be left to chance or to the whim of anyone, professional or novice.


Music and the Order of the Worship Service

Martha Ford

Thoughts on the choice of appropriate hymns and other aspects of the Sabbath Worship Service . . .


 Christian Music: Sacred or Secular?

Eurydice V.Osterman

 Christian music, then, is what Christian music does - turns one\\\'s eyes upon Jesus. Christian music, like Christianity itself, has a refining influence, but cheap music produces a cheap religion. Both cheap music and cheap religion are superficial and will not produce a character change.


Praise Him with Timbrel and Dance?

Eurydice V. Osterman

Because God is not the author of strife and confusion, one can be sure that the enemy, Satan, has adopted the dance and drums as tools to try to divide, confuse, and ultimately conquer the people of God.


Endnotes: Music as an Ecumenical Force

Wolfgang Stefani

When Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," did that truth as it is in Jesus include a truth about the aesthetic realm? Or, is there no aesthetic truth? Or, is the truth about the aesthetic realm quite legitimately to be ignored as unimportant? Or, are we increasingly intimidated by what we perceive as a purely subjective, "taste-and-preference" issue - especially in a multi-cultural community of faith?




Guidelines Toward a Seventh-day Adventist Philosophy in Music (1972)


A Seventh-day Adventist Philosophy of Music Guidelines for Choosing Music (2004)