John Chrysostom

Chrysostom on a Comprehended God

There is always more to discover about God. There is always more to understand about his character and actions that can help us to worship him as we should; but today's Worship Quote speaks to me about the mystery of God, the unknown aspects of our Creator and Redeemer.

A comprehended god is no god.

- St. John Chrysostom (345?-407)


St. John Chrysostom was one of the early Church Fathers. Born in Antioch, his name comes from the Greek, "golden-mouthed," on account of his eloquence. He spent six years as a monk in the mountains, but returned in 381 to Antioch, where he was ordained, and gained a reputation as the greatest orator of the Church. In 398 he was made Archbishop of Constantinople, where he carried out many reforms, but his reproof of vices moved the Empress Eudoxia (ruled 395-404) to have him deposed and banished (403). His body was brought to Constantinople and reburied with honour in 438.

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Chrysostom on Pleasure in Church Music

Today we have another Worship Quote within a Worship Quote, a fourth-century comment about the pleasure of church music as quoted in Don Hustad's Jubilate II.

It should be apparent that pleasure is one of the meanings of functional church music. For unless worshipers find some measure of enjoyment (which I equate with understanding or "appreciation") in a certain church music language, they will probably not be edified by either the music or the words... St. John Chrysostom in the fourth century gave such an explanation for the appearance of music in worship.

"When God saw that many men were lazy, and gave themselves only with difficulty to spiritual reading, He wished to make it easy for them, and added the melody to the words, that all being rejoiced by the charm of the music, should sing hymns to Him with gladness."

- St. John Chrysostom (c. 350-407) as quoted in Donald Hustad's Jubilate II: Church Music in Worship and Renewal, Chapter 2, "Church Music: A Functional Art," Hope Publishing Co., 1993.


I often marvel at the way a well-crafted melody can intensify or clarify the meaning of a noble text. On the other hand, I am also aware that carefully reading the text of a hymn or song can sometimes reveal meanings that had previously been overpowered or even obscured by the power of the music. Why is that?

Have a great week!

To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.