Stanley N. Helton, PhD
President, Professor of New Testament and Ministry
Alberta Bible College Calgary, Canada
Churches of Christ have long found confirmation for their non-instrumental approach to music for gathered worship in the belief that the early church took the term yavllein (psallein) to mean “to sing.” This view, chiefly supported by the work of patristic scholar Everett Ferguson, is being tested by Joseph Trigg’s new translation of a recently rediscovered manuscript containing twenty-nine of Origen’s psalm homilies. This article, in examining Origen’s use of the word, particularly in his homilies on Pss 67 and 80 (Ps 81 in the Hebrew and English) demonstrates Origen assumed the range of meaning for yavllein included the use of musical instruments. In fact, he expected his audience to share this understanding to pick up on points he made in his homilies, includ- ing his analogy between instruments in the hands of musicians and the church in God’s hands.