Various English translations of the Bible mention several musical instruments. In the RSV:
- The trumpet is mentioned 118 times.
- The harp is mentioned 36 times.
- The lyre is mentioned 29 times.
- Cymbals are mentioned 17 times.
- The flute is mentioned 9 times.
- The tambourine is mentioned 5 times.
- Musical instruments as a class are mentioned four times.
- The organ is mentioned twice, in 1st Corinthians 12, but only as a part of the body.
Unfortunately, the trombone, the euphonium, the baritone horn, the French horn, the bass horn, the tuba, and the Sousaphone are not mentioned at all.
However all is not lost. Douglas Yeo, who plays what he calls “the last Trombone” in the Boston Symphony orchestra is the son of a Christian pastor. In an address that he gave to to the Lexington, Massachusetts Christian Academy, entitled “On A Mission from God,” he takes up the matter of trombones in the Bible.
He says that though trombones are not mentioned in any English translation of the Bible, they are mentioned in Martin Luther’s German translation. Luther renders the New Testament word for “trumpet” as “posaune” – which is the German word for “trombone,” or more literally, “large trumpet.”
Thus, in 1st Corinthians 15:51 St. Paul writes:
“Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trombone.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are pleased to present, what we hope will not be the last trombone, euphonium, baritone, bass, tuba, or Sousaphone heard at the Open Door Lunch. If you wish to listen, follow this link. It leads to an MP3 file of the “Tunes to Lenten Hymns” portion of a delightful presentation by the Moravian Lower Brass. We hope that all “the Moravians of the diaspora particularly enjoy it.”
The picture illustrates a trombone capable of playing three different parts, depending upon the way it is set up. The trombone was a special instrument to the Moravians who first settled in America. It was the only instrument that could handle all four musical parts: soprano, alto, baritone, and bass. Trombones were scaled to the appropriate size to accomplish this work. Today, valved instruments are played alongside trombones in most Moravian bands.