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Sanctifying the drums

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The Interface of the Percussive Arts, Religious Experience, and Sacred Association
Matthew R.S. Todd

Word Alive Press, 2008
170 pages



Why have the drums and the church been at odds, historically? What is the role of percussion in worship? These are two of the main questions Matthew Todd addresses in his interdisciplinary treatise.

Todd has a background in teaching philosophy, ethics, and theology as well as performing music as a drummer and percussionist. He serves as English ministry lead pastor at Port Moody (B.C.) Pacific Grace MB Church.

The book is organized in three parts. First, Todd explores how Greek thought has negatively influenced percussion usage in the Western church. He then details how thinking well, theologically, can form a strong base for the use of drums in worship. Finally, he outlines biblical texts that support the inclusion of the percussive arts in church.

The strength of this book is its in-depth analysis. Todd uses lenses of history and philosophy to investigate why the drums have been suppressed, ignored, and distrusted as instruments of praise until relatively recently due to prevailing societal views.

Todd is passionate about music, serving God, and biblical theology. “The objective of this book is to theologically ground how drummers and percussionists practice their craft in worship contexts.” He wants to see drums and percussion used to glorify God and further the kingdom.

The scholarly book is well-researched, with plenty of footnotes and an extensive bibliography. It was a challenge to read, but a worthwhile exercise. I recommend this book to anyone who seeks a holistic approach to worshiping God using the drums.

–Kenton Wiens is a freelance drummer and music teacher. He attends Artisan Vancouver Church, and has recorded with the Nelson Boschman trio.

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