When Did They Start Doing That?

By Sherm Nichols


A humorous skit about changes in worship through the ages. Several short scenes, each one following the other in world history, take a look at the life of a husband and wife of that era. In each scene, the couple is bemoaning the way things have changed from the way they used to be. The final scene is a couple in the future, doing the same.


A husband and wife. For each era in history, the same couple of actors reappear, playing the role of a husband and wife in that era.


Scene 1 – Sometime around 5,000 BC – In Genesis 4. Adam and Eve at home.

Adam: (watching out the window) I just don’t get it. You raise your kids right, then one goes and murders his brother and it all falls apart from there. You’d think that by the time Cain’s great, great, great, great, grandson Jubal was born, some of that would have worn off.

Eve: What ever are you talking about, dear?

Adam: Oh, you know it’s these sounds, this…this…music!

Eve: Oh, right, you mean the flute and harp that Jubal invented.

Adam: Yeah, whatever he calls them. He looks like he’s going off to hunt turkeys. That harp thing…Please! What good is a bow if you can’t shoot an arrow with it?

Eve: They’re for helping singing, dear. He’s teaching it to all his kids.

Adam: I know – singing! What’s that all about?

Eve: Honey, it’s OK. Seems like the animals have been doing it since we were first here. I think it might be another way to honor God.

Adam: Honor God? Who needs all that stuff to worship? When we were younger, whatever age that was, worship was simple. You brought your sacrifice, you talked to God. That was it. Now there’s this music…

Eve: Now, Adam, we’ve seen a lot of change these past couple hundred years. I doubt music is going to create any kind of problems for worshiping God.

Adam: You’re probably right, dear. You’re usually right. I knew there was some reason I picked you!

Scene 2 – Around 1,000 BC. Israelite Husband and Wife and home.

Zeb: (shaking his head to himself) I’m telling you, dear, the whole thing is going to potsherds!

Dinah: Sweetheart, maybe you’re overreacting! I think the temple music is very, uh, uplifting.

Zeb: Maybe you think so. Obviously Asaph, and David, and Korah’s sons all think so. They keep changing the songs - writing new ones. It’s getting so that I don’t know half of them!

Dinah: You could learn them. At one time, you didn’t know all the songs we sang. They were all new to you, and the Lord does mention that we should sing new songs to Him too.

Zeb: Well, if they keep it up, pretty soon they’ll have to write them all down and make a book full of them. Wouldn’t that be grand: “OK everyone, let’s sing Psalm 23!”

Dinah: Honey…they’re already doing that.

Zeb: See! I’m telling you, it’s only going to get worse! And what about all that repetition: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. What, did they run out of words?

Dinah: At least you remembered it, dear. That’s Psalm #136.

Zeb: It’s not just the songs. Look at all the new instruments they’re using too. It’s like – “Hey, we haven’t invented an instrument since the sackbut. Let’s make a new one this year!”

Dinah: Honey, it’s OK. For centuries, God’s people have been approaching new ways to worship Him to please Him. Let’s get ready to eat, OK?

Zeb: OK. What’s for supper?

Dinah: Oh, we’re having quail and bread again.

Zeb: Again? I’m so tired of that! Can’t we have something different for a change?

Scene 3 – Around 100 BC. Israelite husband and wife at home.

Ben: Synagogue, Schmynagogue! Back when it was done right, people went to the temple. That’s how worship was, period.

Azuba: Back when it was done right, people lived in the Garden of Eden, dear, remember?

Ben: That’s not what I mean. I think these synagogues are just an excuse – a convenience – so that people don’t have to go to the temple to worship. Worship should be in the temple!

Azuba: Honey, there isn’t a temple anymore. It has been built and destroyed twice now.

Ben: That’s just an excuse! There’s still a spot in Jerusalem where the foundation used to be!

Azuba: That’s true, but it’s not like we can just travel like we used to. These Romans just don’t let us come and go anytime we please. The synagogues give us a way to get together for worship outside of Jerusalem.

Ben: (agitated) See?! You’re giving in! We don’t have to bow to the system!

Azuba: But we don’t have to get killed for finding a way around the system either. Besides, there’s a lot about the synagogue worship that’s good – we get together, we pray, the reading of the Scriptures, the comments by the teacher.

Ben: Maybe so, but I still say that real worship ought to be hard. It shouldn’t be so easy.

Azuba: Honey, if you’re there, I’m sure it won’t be too easy.

Scene 4 – On the day of Pentecost, 29 AD. A husband and wife at home.

Euodia: What did you think of Peter’s sermon?

Trophimus: It was kind of long. You know, I counted the number of times he said “repent”: 18 times! Can you believe it?

Euodia: That’s not what I meant. I mean, what did you think of the message?

Trophimus: Oh, well, like you, I was cut to the heart. So much has changed today – new baptism, new day for worship, new gathering places, new relationship with God. My head is still spinning. We have a lot of adapting to do.

Euodia: Honey, it will be OK. Didn’t Peter say that God’s Holy Spirit has come to live inside us as part of all this?

Trophimus: (distantly) Yeah…

Euodia: And from now on we’ll worship Jesus as the Messiah?

Trophimus: (distantly) Yeah…

Euodia: What’s wrong?

Trophimus: I’m afraid I’m going to miss some of the old things.

Euodia: Miss them? You mean like legalism? Trying to keep the Law all on our own? Always wondering if we’re being good enough for heaven? I won’t miss them!

Trophimus: What about the old songs?

Euodia: A lot of them will still be great! In fact, some will take on a deeper meaning now! Don’t let it get you down. God has introduced something new that He had planned all along.

Trophimus: Maybe so, but new is hard sometimes.

Euodia: You can say that again.

Trophimus: New is hard sometimes.

Euodia: That’s true, but there are some things like the New Covenant and being a new creature in Jesus that I’m going to like!

Trophimus: I’ll bet they’re probably going to write some new songs about that too, aren’t they?

Euodia: Probably, Honey.

Scene 5 – A husband and wife at home, late 1800’s

Horatio: What was that you were humming?

Fanny: Oh, it was a new hymn that someone at our church is working on.

Horatio: What? Is it another one of those 4-part hymns with shaped notes?

Fanny: Actually it’s going to be. You really aren’t pleased with the church’s music these days, are you?

Horatio: Not since they decided to make it all complicated. Give me a Gregorian chant! Now that was music! No parts. No special notation. Just get in there and sing!

Fanny: You know, there’s a reason you don’t hear many Gregorian chants these days. Music has changed. The creativity pool has grown. People are wanting to find greater ways to express praise to God.

Horatio: You mean like adding a piano?

Fanny: Well, yes.

Horatio: Did you hear what was happening to First Church over in the next county? Someone bought a piano for the church, and during the night, another member came and chopped it to pieces with an axe! I’m telling you, the church is going to end up splitting over whether or not we should have a piano for worship!

Fanny: Remember how others have had fights over whether the songs should be written down and sung from a book?

Horatio: Well, I can understand. After all, Gregorian chants weren’t all written in a book that people sang from.

Fanny: But hymnals don’t seem all that new or different to you, do they?

Horatio: That’s because I’m used to them. But if people keep writing new hymns, what are we going to do with the old hymnals?

Fanny: I guess they’ll need to be changed sometime.

Horatio: Does all this change ever end?

Fanny: No, I’m afraid it doesn’t. Even in the book of Revelation it talks about the new songs that will be sung in heaven.

Horatio: OK, but they can’t make me sing 'em!

Scene 6 – A husband and wife at home, sometime in the future 20 years or so.

Zoe (wife): Well, Honey, what did you think of today’s worship download?

Xeno (husband): It was OK, I guess.

Zoe: You don’t sound overly impressed.

Xeno: Well, it’s just…Remember when they still had someone actually get up front and lead the songs? I just don’t think those holographic song leader images are as personal and inspirational. And the way they take it and remix the whole time so that it’s edited and shorter – I’m not sure that TiVo is the best thing for worshiping.

Zoe: At least everyone gets their own remotes at this church. I didn’t like it when we fought over the remotes before. And the surround sound is pretty good.

Xeno: Who cares, really? I mean, when it was time for everyone to plug in their singing cards, I honestly didn’t know any of the songs.

Zoe: That’s true. I wonder why we don’t we use the old choruses anymore. And when was the last time we had the lyrics up on a screen instead of in a hologram?”

(both sigh and stare ahead silently for a moment)

Xeno: You know what we sound like?

Zoe: What?

Xeno: People who are having a hard time with change! Just listen to us!

Zoe: Well, let’s be honest – change has never been easy; not in the church, not for older people, and not for young people either. Of course we’re having a hard time with it. Not to mention that worship is really supposed to be about God, not us.

Xeno: So what do you suggest we do?

Zoe: I don’t know…change maybe, and think about what God wants.

Xeno: Honey, you’re a smart woman. I knew there was some reason I picked you!

Zoe: Don’t change that thought!


© Sherm Nichols 2006, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: snichols7777@hotmail.com