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The controversy over musical instruments used in worship revolved around both methods of Biblical interpretation and social and sectional factors. The churches of D.S. Burnet in Cincinnati and L.L. Pinkerton in Kentucky both began using instruments before the Civil War, and wealthier congregations in the North in urban areas began to adopt musical instruments after the War.
Both sides included the maxim "Where the Bible speaks, we speak, where the Bible is silent, we are silent" in their argument. Those who favored adopting musical instruments noted that their use was not forbidden in Scripture, and pointed to examples of the use of musical instruments in worship in the Old Testament. Opponents of musical instruments, on the other hand, argued that musical instruments were never mentioned in the New Testament, then only a capella singing was allowed.