The Sabbath and Worship Music
our Lord our prayers, praises, and songs. The church on earth joins heavenly beings in praising Christ: “Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Heb 13:15).
The music and worship of the church on earth should draw its inspiration from the music and worship of the heavenly sanctuary, because the two are united by the worship of the same Creator and Redeemer. Hebrews invites believers to “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the innumerable angels in festal gatherings, and to the assembly of the first born who are enrolled in heaven” (Heb 12:22-24).
What a challenge for the church of the last days to let the glory and maj- esty of the heavenly worship shine through its music, prayers, and preaching. As Richard Paquier suggests, “something of the royal majesty and glory of the risen One who ascended to heaven has to come through in the worship of the church.”14
When glimpses of the majesty and glory of the risen Savior and heavenly High Priest come through the music and worship of the church, there will be no need to experiment with religious rock, drama, or dance to revitalize church worship. The vision of the Lord’s glory and majesty provides all the dramatic ingredients believers could ever wish for an exciting worship experience.
The Worship of the Heavenly Sanctuary. To catch a glimpse of the majestic worship conducted in the heavenly sanctuary, we turn to the book of Revelation where we find the largest number of choral ensembles to be found anywhere in the Bible. Scholars who have studied the music of Revelation have come up with different numbers of hymn texts in the book. Oscar Cullman has identified six hymns (Rev 5:9; 5:12; 5:13; 12:10-12; 19:1-2; and 19:6),14 while Michael Harris enumerates seven (Rev 4:8-11; 5:9; 7:10; 11:17-18; 12:10-11; 15:3; and 15:4b).15 Forrester Church and Terrance Mulry identify eleven hymns in Revelation (Rev 1:5-8; 4:11; 5:9-11; 5:12-13; 11:17-18; 12:10-12; 15:3-4; 18:22-23; 19:1-9; 22:16-17; and 22:20).16
The exact number of hymns and choruses performed in Revelation is less important than their witness to the important role that music plays in the eschatological worship of God in the heavenly sanctuary. The three major choirs that participate in the heavenly worship are (1) the 24 elders (Rev 4:10- 11; 5:8-9; 11:16-18; 19:4); (2) the countless multitude of angels and redeemed (Rev 5:11-12; 7:9-12; 14:2-3; 19:1-3, 6-8); and (3) the all-inclusive ensemble of every creature in heaven and earth (Rev 5:13).
The text of the hymns is very instructive. The chorus of the 24 elders sings first before God’s throne a hymn about His creative power: “Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou dist create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created” (Rev 4:10-11). Then