Re: help me with YALLW

From: MikeBzley (
Date: Tue May 26 1998 - 14:50:10 EDT

Dear B-Greekers,

George, in reply to William, wrote:

> > Where I worship, we are dedicated to restoring New Testament Christianity
> > and limiting our practice to that which is authorised in the scriptures,
> > like the church in the New Testament, we do not use instruments. [...]

> But, what do you make of Paul's use of YALLW in Ephesians? Doesn't this
> reflect perhaps some kind of music? What other evidence is there that the
> church did not use music? I'm actually quite curious about this, William.

So am I. I have always asumed that Paul means 'sing with musical
accompaniment' in Ephesians 5:19 when he uses both AEIDW and YALLW, since
AEIDW seems only to mean sing, whereas YALLW primarily means play a harp.
is internal, but when Paul urges church members in 1 Corinthians 14:26 to
bring their contributions to the service (EKASTOS YALMON ECEI), I'm sure that
they brought music, and instruments, as well as words.

Robertson's Word Pictures say of 1 Corinthians 14:15, "And I will sing with
the understanding also (YALW TWi PNEUMATI, YALW DE KAI TWi NOI). There was
ecstatic singing like the rhapsody of some prayers without intelligent words.
But Paul prefers singing that reaches the intellect as well as stirs the
emotions. Solos that people do not understand lose more than half their value
in church worship. YALW originally meant to play on strings, then to sing with
an accompaniment (Eph 5:19), and here apparently to sing without regard to an
instrument." And of James 5:13, "Let him sing praise (YALLETW). Present
active imperative of YALLW, originally to twang a chord as on a harp, to sing
praise to God whether with instrument or without, in N.T. only here, 1Co
14:15; Ro 15:9; Eph 5:19. "Let him keep on making melody."

The 'Babylonian orchestra' which Ben described:

> William and George have both given us their particular slants on this.
> The Babylonian orchestra listed in Daniel 5:5, 7, 10, 15 comprised the
> following instruments:
> 1. KaRNa' Horn SALPIGX
> 2. MaShRoWQiYTha' Pan-pipes, mouth-organ SURINX
> 3. QiYThaRoWS Lyre KIQARA
> 4. SaBBeKha' Triangular harp SAMBUKH
> 5. PeSaNTeRiYN Psaltery YALTHRION
> 6. SuWMPoNYaH Bagpipe SUMFWNIA
> Reminds me of the Cornish Floral Dance.
> "I danced to the band with the curious tone,
> of the cornet, clarinet and big trombone:
> fiddle, cello, big bass drum,
> bassoon, flute and euphonium:
> each one making the best of his chance,
> all together in the Floral Dance".

seems to me to be much more likely a description of 1st century church music
than the image of Gregorian plainsong conjured up by William's description of
his church's approach to psalmody. It is also much closer to the 'happy
clappy' church music so decried by Ben, and to the communal music making of
18th century churches, before the overpowering organ began to dominate church

Ben said:

> Larger churches started rebuilding organs in the 18th century; but the organ
> building renaissance really took off in the 19th century. No church in
> England is without one; though in the last decade, "charismatic" churches
> influenced by Toronto or Pensacola have abandoned the organ in favour of
> (ghastly!) guitar and drumkit groups (Ugh!!!!). If anything is tainted by
> worldly associations, it's the "pop" group!

I must disagree with him about this. Hundreds of churches have no organs, or
if they have them do not use them, because the organ is basically not a very
good accompanist's instrument, as anyone knows who has suffered from an
organist who miscounts the verses. Music should be the kind of group activity
advocated by Paul, with as many as possible bringing their musical
contribution. Modern Christian music is millions of miles away from 'pop'
music, and also, thank God, millions of miles away from the soulless dirges
many of us were brought up on. It is not just the preserve of the
charismatics, and it means something to those outside the church, which most
Ancient and Modern hymns and the old sung psalms do not.

To return to B-Greek, it seems to me that the use of the word YALLW indicates
that church music was alive and well and based on stringed instruments in the
first century, much like today.


Mike Beazley,
Bushey, Hertfordshire, UK

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