Construct of Temple Music for Praise and Worship

Two types of worship service are increasingly offered to the public to satisfy the desires of two distinct groups of worshipers: traditional and contemporary. The contemporary worship may have a powerful band, equipped with electric guitars, drums, driving vocals, and other attire borrowed from modern “rock and roll”. The more traditional service typically offers musical praise directed by an organ or piano, and accompanied by a choir or other vocal soloists. It is rare that one stumbles across a church practicing congregational, “a cappella” music.

The disparate proportions lead one to believe that those who restrain from using instrumental music must be in grievous error, since they appear to be numbered in the scandalous minority. Surprisingly, history shows that it is not always been the case. In fact, instrumental music is a relatively modern addition to the services of those who would worship God.

Temple Model in Worship
The Temple Model follows the structure of the Jerusalem Temple. The temple can be broken down into four main parts: The outer courts, inner courts, holy place, and holy of holies. Worship will typically move from high praise (or fast music) into deep worship (or slow music).

In this model of worship, we see a reflection of the three stages of the spiritual life: the purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways. The outer courts deal more with the flesh, as does the purgative state – ordering the flesh towards the service of God. The inner courts act similarly to the illuminative state, enlightening the mind with the knowledge of God and transitioning us into the unitive state. The holy place begins the unitive state of prayer, moving us to the holy of holies where words virtually cease. We find ourselves in a profound union with our Lord and Savior, who infuses His very word into our hearts.

Outer Courts
Scripture tells us to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!” (Psalm 100:4) Therefore, the first step in this model begins with a time of high praises and faster music. This is an expression of our excitement about coming into the presence of the Lord! Have fun with it! But our prayer doesn’t end here – we’re just getting started! After a series of high praise songs, you then transition into what we call the inner courts.

Inner Courts
The inner court is where we begin quieting ourselves and preparing ourselves for a deeper encounter with God. The music moves into a more moderate tempo, neither fast nor slow. In the inner courts, we begin to transition and quiet our hearts as we move towards the destination of the holy of holies (the place of contemplative prayer). But first, we enter the holy place.

Holy Place
The holy place is where worship of God becomes authentic adoration of God. The music is much slower, the lyrics are simpler, the volume becomes softer, and the content of the songs speak more to the pure adoration of God. Here you might repeat a chorus like “How Great is our God”, “I Exalt Thee”, or simply “Holy” – music that speaks directly to God in a way that is deep, profound, and loving. And now, you are ready to “land the plane” – we enter the holy of holies.

Holy of Holies
In the holy of holies, the music itself begins to cease. Our hearts have quieted. In the days of the Old Testament, the high priest spoke little when he entered this sacred place. Instead, he would remain silent and in awe of the presence of the Lord. This was the place where God’s very presence resided. Here we give God the opportunity to speak in the quiet of our hearts as we soak in His presence.

SOURCE: Trevor Bowen (2005) – Mary Castner (2018)
Facebook Page: Music Psychology Research (MPR) / Psychological Assessment and Research Evaluation (PARE)