19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord
15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also you are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord
I noticed that in both of these scriptures, there are three terms that sound like they mean the same things–psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Why did the scriptures distinguish between them? I know enough about Greek to know that often there are subtleties in the language that aren’t always translated in English, so I decided to check out my Strong’s Concordance to discover the differences.
The first term Psalms is the word Psalmos (5568). This word has to do with formal written odes, the kind that is written to be accompanied by voice, the harp or other instrument. In today’s language, a psalm would be like the songs sung from a hymnal. It would also include songs written on sheet music and would include any music played on instruments in church. This is the word that would discribe most of the so called worship music in church.
The second term Hymn comes from the word humnos (5215) which comes from an earlier word hudeo which simply means to celebrate. A hymn therefore is a song of celebration. In other words, this word translated hymn should actually have been translated songs of celebration. These are basically songs that we sing because we are happy. these hymns are praise songs. Included in this list are children’s songs and choruses that we like to sing over and over again.
The third term spiritual songs come from two words the first one is pneumatikos (4152) which refers to something that is supernatural, daemonical, ethereal, regenerative or spiritual. The second word songs is ode(5603) This word refers to a chant or ode (general term for any words sung). So what this entire term is in reference of is a supernatural spirit originated song.
I believe that God encourages us to use music in whatever form that will draw us to him. Not only does he want us to sing from written music, from choruses, and spiritually from the heart, one of the easiest ways to draw people in spiritually is through music.