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Worship or Entertainment?

By Peter Masters
July 2020 | Review by Paul Smith
  • Publisher: Wakeman Trust
  • ISBN: 978-1-91313-305-4
  • Pages: 100
  • Price: £4.95
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Book Review

Have you ever given serious thought to the principles behind what you sing? This is the challenge which Peter Masters issues in this revised and condensed edition of his well-known title, Worship in the Melting Pot.

Written at a popular level, the book encourages its readers to move beyond proof texts to a more thorough biblical understanding. Masters is writing especially but not exclusively about singing in church. If you’re asking, ‘But will I be able to sing (x)?’, you need to read this book! It’s probably more profitable to a sceptical reader than to a sympathetic one.

Worship or Entertainment? has three main strengths. Firstly, it is helpful in explaining why the emotions are to be stirred through the mind — and the consequences should this fact be ignored. Secondly, it considers in detail how various musical instruments were used in Old Testament Israel. Thirdly, it draws on broader Reformation traditions rather than more narrowly Reformed worship.

There are some weaknesses. The failure to engage with the regulative principle of worship is disappointing, leading to some ambiguities and some arbitrary points like the author’s view on rhyme. The thorny area of modem hymn-writing is not addressed as thoroughly or explicitly as it might have been.

Masters writes without invective and engages issues not people. Only one contemporary is named and he is a theologian not a songwriter. This helps readers to focus on the issues.

Peter Masters tends to polarise opinion, but whatever your instincts, this book makes a distinctive and stimulating contribution to a key area and deserves a wide audience.

Paul Smith



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