music in the Bible
Music is of definite importance in the Bible and will continue into Heaven and the New Heavens and New Earth.
Hebrews and music
The Hebrews were enthusiastic about the cultivation of music. Their whole history and literature provide abundant evidence of this.
- What is a Hebrew?
There now arose also a class of professional singers (2 Samuel 19:35; Eccl. 2:8).
Temple singers, choirs, music and musicians
The temple was the great school of music. In the conducting of its services large bands of trained singers and players on instruments were constantly employed (2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 15; 16; 23;5; 25:1-6).
The priests stood at their posts, and the Levites also, with the musical instruments for the Lord, which King David had made for giving praise to the Lord—“for His faithfulness is everlasting”—whenever David gave praise through their ministry; the priests on the other side blew trumpets and all Israel was standing. —2 Chronicles 7:6 NASB
There were Chief musician, and many musicians are mentioned by name in the Bible.
- King David —“a skillful musician on the harp” (1 Samuel 16:16; 16:18; 2 Kings 3:15; etc.) and a writer of numerous beloved songs which were sung publicly, having been given to the music director with flute or stringed instrument accompaniment instructions
- Judah, a Levite
- Asaph, one of David’s chief musicians
- Azarel, a Levite musician
- Chanani (2), a chief musician of David, and a chief musician in time of Nehemiah
- Chashabyahu (Chashabyah), a temple musician (1 Chronicles 25:3)
- Gedaliah (1 Chronicles 25:3)
- Gilalay (Nehemiah 12:36)
- Hananiah (Chananyah), director of a division of musicians under David
- Jeshaiah (1 Chronicles 25:3)
- Kenaniah, supervisor of the musicians
- Maai (Maay) (Nehemiah 12:36)
- Milalay (Milalai) (Nehemiah 12:36)
- Miqneyahu, a Levite musician (1 Chronicles 15:18; 15:21)
- Tseri (Zeri) (1 Chronicles 25:3)
- Yechiel (Yechavel), a chief musician
- Yeduthun, leader of temple choir whose descendants formed a perpetual temple choir
- Many unnamed singers and musicians of various ages were trained for service at the Tabernacle or the Temples and for special occasions
Music in private life
In private life, music also seems to have held an important place among the Hebrews (;
By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
For there our captors demanded of us songs,
And our tormentors, jubilation, saying,
“Sing for us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land?… —Psalm 137 NASB excerpt
Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute —Isaiah 5:12 NASB excerpt
…I provided for myself male and female singers… —Eccl. 2:8 NASB excerpt
The gaiety of tambourines ceases,
The noise of revelers stops,
The gaiety of the harp ceases.
—Isa. 24:8 NASB
…as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. —Luke 15:25 NKJV excerpt
Songs in Revelation
The book of Revelation mentions songs of joy, thanks, or praise (perhaps as many as 27) which take place during the future 70th “Week” described by Daniel, the Tribulation, the 2nd Coming of Christ, and the Day of the Lord and the Millennium—all surround the coming physical Kingdom of God.
…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp… And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to break its seals; for You were slaughtered, and You purchased people for God with Your blood from every tribe, language, people, and nation. —Revelation 5:8-9 NASB excerpt
and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. —Revelation 14:3 ESV
And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who were victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. —Revelation 15:2
And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! —Revelation 15:3 NASB
Hebrew and Greek words
שִׁיר (noun) —transliteration: shiyr —meaning: song; musical —occurrences: 90 times
מִזְמוֹר (noun) —mizmor —meaning: a melody —occurrences: 57
נָגַן (verb) —nagan —meaning: to touch or play a stringed instrument —occurrences: 15
נְגִינָה (noun) —neginah or neginath —meaning: music —occurrences: 13
זְמָר (noun) —zemar —meaning: music; to make music (in praise of God) —occurrences: 4
הִגָּיוֹן (noun) —higgayon —meaning: resounding music, meditation, musing —occurrences: 4
נצח —natsach —meaning: musician; chief singer; musical director; choirmaster
הֶמְיָה (noun) —hemyah —meaning: musical sound; music —occurrences: 1
ᾠδή (noun) —transliteration: ódé —meaning: an ode; song; hymn —occurrences: 7
ψαλμός (noun) —psalmos —meaning: a striking (of musical strings); a psalm; song of praise —occurrences: 7
ᾄδω (verb) —adó —meaning: to sing; sang; singing —occurrences: 5
ψάλλω (verb) —psalló —meaning: to pull, twitch, twang, play, sing, sing psalms; sing praises; play on a stringed instrument; making melody —occurrences: 5
ὑμνέω (verb) —humneó —meaning: to sing; to laud; sing hymns to; praise —occurrences: 4
ὕμνος (noun) —humnos —meaning: a hymn; sacred song; song of praise to God —occurrences: 2
κιθαρῳδός (noun) —kitharódos —meaning: one who plays and sings to the lyre; a singer who sings with a harp as accompaniment; harpist —occurrences: 2
συμφωνία (noun) —sumphónia —meaning: symphony; music; harmony of instruments —occurrences: 1
μουσικός (noun) —mousikos —meaning: musician; skilled in the arts (especially music); singer —occurrences: 1
- Chief musician
- Instrumental music in the Bible