A Question for Exclusive Psalmodists/Exclusive Scripture Only Advocates

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greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I have a question. It's been germinating in my mind for quite some time now.

First point: most Psalms I've seen set to music are set to music that is in meter. This requires a poetic translation of the Psalms. Of course, the Psalms are already poetry, but still, in order to set them into English meter, some level of paraphrase is necessary. Even if the meter is not present, most of the Genevan Psalms are paraphrases as well (albeit excellent ones). The point here is that most Psalms that I've seen set to music are in fact paraphrases of the Psalms set to music.

Second point: many advocates of exclusive Psalmody also advocate catechetical preaching (in addition to expository preaching, not usually in competition with it). Catechisms are summaries of Biblical truth.

The excellent hymns I know are not translations of biblical texts, but summaries of biblical truth.

So the question is this: where is the limit for how paraphrastic one can be in exclusive Psalmody, or in exclusive Scripture-only singing; and how does one go about setting the biblical limit for how paraphrastic one can be? If we were to allow preaching on the catechism, for instance, which is a summary of biblical teaching, why could we not allow hymns which are a summary of biblical truth? This question assumes, of course, that there are many hymns out there which are anything but biblical.

One objection I can hear already is that this would let the door in for anything, to which I would answer that all excellent worship requires careful thought and wisdom to make sure that it is biblical.

To make the question concrete, let's take a few phrases from Amazing Grace. "I once was lost, but now am found" could easily be a personal adaption of the parable of the lost sheep. "Was blind but now I see" could be a personalized appropriation of the miracles that Jesus performed on the blind, or the story of Saul. These two phrases are surely biblical in a broader sense. Why would they be excluded, but paraphrases of the Psalms be allowed? Of course, this all presupposes the arguments about exclusive Psalmody already out there. My point is this: if any paraphrasis is allowed, then why are summaries not allowed? How paraphrastic is too paraphrastic? What level of paraphrase is acceptable, and how does one justify this biblically?
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
Well, I'm by no means an expert on this issue, but I have read and researched the issue of Exclusive Psalmody quite a bit before I became convinced of it myself. There are many reasons that I went from singing the hymns to Psalms only, but I'll only address the issues that you bring up here. First, by the argument that you've laid out above regarding paraphrasing; it could be argued that the English Bible itself is insufficient and unauthoritative because in a certain sense ,as a translation, it is a paraphrase and not the literal Scriptures themselves. Also, the Metrical Psalms are far from being paraphrased in the modern-day sense of the Word. I know the 1650 Scottish Psalter is actually based on the original Hebrew text. Some of the other Psalters were based on the English translation of the Psalms, but I know for sure that the 1650 Psalter is faithful to the Scriptures.

Also, it would be very difficult to teach the masses to sing and understand the original language, and I think it is incredibly important to be able to worship in one's native tongue. We know that the Old Testament Church sang the Psalms and we know that the NT also sang the Psalms, yet it is debatable whether or not the NT church ever sang uninspired hymns. So as far as it being Biblical, it is Biblical to sing the Psalms yet it is still questionable whether to sing anything else. So, the burden of proof lies on those that advocate uninspired hymns, In my humble opinion.

Now regarding hymns and using careful thought and wisdom to make sure they are biblical is a matter of perspective. We are all fallen beings, and that includes our wisdom and thought. We each have a different understanding of the Scriptures and what may be considered "biblical" to one, may not be considered "biblical" to another. Hymns have changed drastically over the decades, and what at one time was considered very solid may not be the case today. There will always be a propensity to err when creating uninspired hymns, yet we can never err with the Psalms. God has already provided a songbook for us and we can all uniformly agree upon what they teach. Yet with hymns that is not always the case.

Also regarding catechetical preaching, I'm not so sure about this. In my experience, both the RPCNA and FCoS-(cont) used expository preaching and never catechetical. Yet I know for a fact that the OPC uses catechetical preaching, and often advocates it. So, I'm not sure about this. I think others may have more information regarding this. It would seem to be more consistent for non-EP denominations to advocate catechetical preaching rather than the other way around. But I am open to correction on this.

Here's a quick overview of the 1650 Metrical Psalter and how it was developed: The Development of the Scottish Psalter - Rev David Silversides
 
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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
There are two issues being welded together which are quite distinct -- what we should sing and how we should sing? Attention should first be given to what we should sing, in accord with the RPW, what is not commanded is forbidden. How we should sing will involve circumstantial aspects, and therefore allows some measure of prudence. A ready analogy is found in the reading of the Scriptures. What shall we read and how shall we read? We read the Scriptures in public worship on the basis that it is a commanded element of worship. How we read them will require some dependence on conventional wisdom. This should help us to see that the two questions of "what" and "how" are very different questions and cannot be used to answer each other.

Also, it might be worth bearing in mind that a paraphrase in 17th century English did not mean what a paraphrase means today. Paraphrase was close to translation, whereas metaphrase functions in the way paraphrase does in present usage. A book of psalms designed for singing is technically a "metrical version." It aims to be a version or translation of the Psalms which is adapted to the purpose of singing. To what degree it succeeds will depend on one's idea of (1) translation, and (2) convention. Whether or not it succeeds does not determine the question as to what should be sung in worship. Any failure in the metrical version would only point to the need to improve the metrical version; it could not serve as a precedent for introducing something other than psalms into the content of praise song.
 

Nate

Puritan Board Junior
Great question. I had been thinking about this for a while myself now, but never made the connection with catechetical preaching. My church fits situation exactly, and I'll be interested in any responses.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
Would EP purists argue for nothing but a formal equivalent (woodenly literal) English translation of the Hebrew and avoid paraphrase in an absolute sense? Just asking.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
There are two issues being welded together which are quite distinct -- what we should sing and how we should sing? Attention should first be given to what we should sing, in accord with the RPW, what is not commanded is forbidden. How we should sing will involve circumstantial aspects, and therefore allows some measure of prudence. A ready analogy is found in the reading of the Scriptures. What shall we read and how shall we read? We read the Scriptures in public worship on the basis that it is a commanded element of worship. How we read them will require some dependence on conventional wisdom. This should help us to see that the two questions of "what" and "how" are very different questions and cannot be used to answer each other.

Also, it might be worth bearing in mind that a paraphrase in 17th century English did not mean what a paraphrase means today. Paraphrase was close to translation, whereas metaphrase functions in the way paraphrase does in present usage. A book of psalms designed for singing is technically a "metrical version." It aims to be a version or translation of the Psalms which is adapted to the purpose of singing. To what degree it succeeds will depend on one's idea of (1) translation, and (2) convention. Whether or not it succeeds does not determine the question as to what should be sung in worship. Any failure in the metrical version would only point to the need to improve the metrical version; it could not serve as a precedent for introducing something other than psalms into the content of praise song.
This doesn't even remotely address my question, frankly. I'm not talking about how one sings at all. How much paraphrase (using paraphrase in the modern sense) is too much, and how does one determine this biblically? My question had nothing to do with current Psalters in existence. According to the position of EP, could a general paraphrase of a Psalm be acceptable? Also, I don't care how close to the text the metrical Psalms are, once you've put them in meter, they are paraphrased. Period. There are close paraphrases, and there are looser paraphrases, of course. But how does one go about determining which Psalter to use, and just how accurate it is?

Also, I am addressing my question about the generality of singing to a position like that of Scott Clark, for instance, who believes in singing texts of the Bible, not just Psalms, but believes in an only-inspired hymnody. So, I am not just addressing it to EP'ers.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This doesn't even remotely address my question, frankly. I'm not talking about how one sings at all. How much paraphrase (using paraphrase in the modern sense) is too much, and how does one determine this biblically? My question had nothing to do with current Psalters in existence. According to the position of EP, could a general paraphrase of a Psalm be acceptable? Also, I don't care how close to the text the metrical Psalms are, once you've put them in meter, they are paraphrased. Period. There are close paraphrases, and there are looser paraphrases, of course. But how does one go about determining which Psalter to use, and just how accurate it is?

Also, I am addressing my question about the generality of singing to a position like that of Scott Clark, for instance, who believes in singing texts of the Bible, not just Psalms, but believes in an only-inspired hymnody. So, I am not just addressing it to EP'ers.
You are attempting to create a precedent for introducing another kind of composition -- sumaries of biblical teching -- without biblical prescription. My response cuts off the appeal to precedent which your question was creating. Your question was, "if any paraphrasis is allowed, then why are summaries not allowed?" I have answered that there are two distinct questions here. What is sung falls under the RPW -- what is not commanded is forbidden. How it is sung will depend upon convention to some degree, and is therefore circumstantial. If it could be proven that paraphrase itself was contrary to the Psalms only (or Scripture songs) position, this would only prove that paraphrase as a convention was not prudent and thus restrict the way that prescribed content must be sung; it would not prove that some other kind of composition could be sung.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
This doesn't even remotely address my question, frankly. I'm not talking about how one sings at all. How much paraphrase (using paraphrase in the modern sense) is too much, and how does one determine this biblically? My question had nothing to do with current Psalters in existence. According to the position of EP, could a general paraphrase of a Psalm be acceptable? Also, I don't care how close to the text the metrical Psalms are, once you've put them in meter, they are paraphrased. Period. There are close paraphrases, and there are looser paraphrases, of course. But how does one go about determining which Psalter to use, and just how accurate it is?

Also, I am addressing my question about the generality of singing to a position like that of Scott Clark, for instance, who believes in singing texts of the Bible, not just Psalms, but believes in an only-inspired hymnody. So, I am not just addressing it to EP'ers.
You are attempting to create a precedent for introducing another kind of composition -- sumaries of biblical teching -- without biblical prescription. My response cuts off the appeal to precedent which your question was creating. Your question was, "if any paraphrasis is allowed, then why are summaries not allowed?" I have answered that there are two distinct questions here. What is sung falls under the RPW -- what is not commanded is forbidden. How it is sung will depend upon convention to some degree, and is therefore circumstantial. If it could be proven that paraphrase itself was contrary to the Psalms only (or Scripture songs) position, this would only prove that paraphrase as a convention was not prudent and thus restrict the way that prescribed content must be sung; it would not prove that some other kind of composition could be sung.
We obviously have different definitions of the phrase "how something is to be sung." I don't regard the distinction between translation and paraphrase as falling into the realm of "how" something is to be sung, but quite definitely "what" is to be sung. For me, "how" something is to be sung would include things like whether there is accompaniment, what key the music is in, how loud or soft one sings, whether amplification is used. Being a musician, the "how" refers to the musical aspects. The words are quite definitely the "content" of what is sung. Whether we use a paraphrase or a literal translation refers to the content of the singing. The content of the words change from paraphrase to literal translation. I would think this is self-evident.

Also, I really fail to see how a summary of biblical teaching is itself not biblical. Wouldn't this be the same kind of hermeneutic that says that the Westminster Standards are not biblical because they are not ipsissima verba? But we have never said this. We have said instead that the Westminster Standards ARE biblical, because they summarize biblical teaching. There is no injunction against reading and using the Westminster Standards in the worship service, because they are biblical. If it is appropriate to use summaries of biblical teaching in the worship service, why is it not appropriate to use summaries of biblical teaching in singing? To make the point more pointedly, if one includes a Catechism question in the worship service, having the minister cite the question, and the people cite the answer, the congregation is reciting something that is biblical. As such, it does not fall under the stricture of the regulative principle. Why would a different standard then all of a sudden be applied to singing? We can only use the ipsissima verba of Scripture in singing, but not in catechism? This turns the mere fact of having words in musical form into something that Scripture does not say it is: something that limits content in a way that normal speaking does not. This is NOT a biblical principle, and cannot be found anywhere in Scripture. I would argue that a Scriptural principle must be found, if musical form is to have this kind of power. Otherwise, artificially limiting musical content to something more narrow than spoken form constitutes being more narrow than Scripture itself.
 

John Lanier

Puritan Board Junior
A good Psalter is a translation and not a "paraphrase." It is translated in a way to fit meter but the goal is to stay as close to the original as possible (no different than your Bible translation). A paraphrase has not such goal. The one paraphrasing can add in his own thoughts whenever he wants (see The Message).

I agree with Matthew in that the first step is to find out whether or not you have Biblical warrant for using a hymn written by man period, no matter whether it is a summary of Scripture or not. Matthew and others would obviously say that you do not. Therefore, according to this argument, hymns are out, summary or not.

It is no different than your English Bible where things are made to somewhat fit our grammar. According to what you are saying, this would not be justified Biblically and we would all have to go back to the Greek and Hebrew.
 

JennyG

Puritan Board Graduate
This may be slightly off the point, but when I first encountered the Scottish metrical psalms (as a student, after growing up in England) I was really struck by how inartistic and downright clumsy they're often made by the struggle to apply to the psalms the paraphrastic straitjackets not only of metre but also rhyme.
I've grown to love many of them since, with all their infelicities, but it took some years. At the time I thought they made a wonderful argument for singing the psalms as it's done in the Church of England (or was).
They were chanted (several of them every Sunday) to infinitely flexible "chants", ie short barred melodies that can accommodate absolutely any form of words. They're very beautiful to listen to, the words completely un-tampered with, and as an aid to worship, incomparably superior to the metrical psalter!
The same is true of Allegri's setting of the 51st psalm, the so-called Miserere. It's heard most often in Latin, but it no way has to be, since the music will fit any language whatsoever.

NB I do know of at least one very powerful and poetic metrical and rhyming psalm-adaptation in English:

The Lord will come, and not be slow,
His footsteps cannot err;
Before him righteousness shall go,
His royal harbinger.
Truth from the earth, like to a flower, shall bud and blossom then;
And justice from her heavenly bower
Look down on mortal men.

Surely, to such as do Him fear,
Salvation is at hand!
And glory shall ere long appear
To dwell within our land.
Rise, God, judge thou the earth in might,
This wicked earth redress;
For thou art he who shall by right
The nations all possess.

The nations all whom thou hast made
Shall come, and all shall frame
To bow them low before thee, Lord,
And glorify thy Name.
For great thou art, and wonders great
By thy strong hand are done:
Thou in thy everlasting seat
Remainest God alone.

It was written by Milton, so not surprising if it's good - though actually, he cheated, in that he cherry-picked the verses he metrified, from more than one psalm.
If you're ok with the fact that it's not pure Scripture, it is breathtaking sung to the tune Old 107th.
 

chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
It seems your point is being missed Lane.

John, I think you misunderstand paraphrase. Paraphrase intends to accurately convey the meaning, it just does so using different words. 'Putting whatever you want in there' is not paraphrase, it's composition. The similarity between paraphrase and conversion to musical meter is closer than you seem to think. Both are using something external to the text to determine how that text is conveyed. On the other hand, one might argue that paraphrase assumes that the text is unclear and needs to be clarified, whereas metrical rendering does not make the same (unbiblical assumption). The standards, however are not paraphrases. They are summaries. Insofar as they are accurate summaries, they are biblical.

But Lane's point has not really been addressed. Once an external force has been introduced -- whether a need to summarize in the case of the standards, or the need to metricize in the case of the Psalter, how will we justify the use of the one and not the other? The original post asked for the line of demarcation. That request has been ignored.

A good Psalter is a translation and not a "paraphrase." It is translated in a way to fit meter but the goal is to stay as close to the original as possible (no different than your Bible translation). A paraphrase has not such goal. The one paraphrasing can add in his own thoughts whenever he wants (see The Message).
 

louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not EP, but I have been trying to follow this discussion, and it seems to me that the question has been answered:

1. You sing the Psalms only, quite apart from the issue of whether or not this is done well or accurately. So, the answer to the question, "how does one go about setting the biblical limit" is, "you limit it to the Psalms."

2. Metrical versions aim to be only as paraphrastic as any English translation would be. Introducing the "external force" of meter is no different in principle than introducing the "external force" of English grammar and syntax. So the answer to the question of "how paraphrastic one can be" is "as least paraphrastic as possible given the nature of the medium."

3. If that sounds a little slippery, the OP has already supplied an answer: "all excellent worship requires careful thought and wisdom to make sure that it is biblical." But just because putting Psalms in metre requires a little paraphrasing -- or translating, if you prefer -- does not mean that you can then charge down the hill toward hymns and other musical "summaries of biblical truth."
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
It seems your point is being missed Lane.

John, I think you misunderstand paraphrase. Paraphrase intends to accurately convey the meaning, it just does so using different words. 'Putting whatever you want in there' is not paraphrase, it's composition. The similarity between paraphrase and conversion to musical meter is closer than you seem to think. Both are using something external to the text to determine how that text is conveyed. On the other hand, one might argue that paraphrase assumes that the text is unclear and needs to be clarified, whereas metrical rendering does not make the same (unbiblical assumption). The standards, however are not paraphrases. They are summaries. Insofar as they are accurate summaries, they are biblical.

But Lane's point has not really been addressed. Once an external force has been introduced -- whether a need to summarize in the case of the standards, or the need to metricize in the case of the Psalter, how will we justify the use of the one and not the other? The original post asked for the line of demarcation. That request has been ignored.

A good Psalter is a translation and not a "paraphrase." It is translated in a way to fit meter but the goal is to stay as close to the original as possible (no different than your Bible translation). A paraphrase has not such goal. The one paraphrasing can add in his own thoughts whenever he wants (see The Message).
But isnt Rev. Winzer's point, this: The Bible says X. We do not then go and attempt X, find it difficult to do and then say, The Bible must not really be saying X, because we find it hard to do or lack completely agreement on how to do it.

CT
 

chbrooking

Puritan Board Junior
But Louis,
The Standards are not equated with scripture. They are summaries of it. In a matter of dispute, the standards may be used as a shorthand way of discussing things, but the ground for settling the dispute is always the scriptures themselves, not a summary of them. So the question, then, is, once an adaptation has been made, are they still the Psalms? Once the scriptures are summarized, they are no longer the scriptures; they are summaries of them. Your number 1 is the very matter under discussion. You seem to indicate that putting the Psalms in metric form is mere translation. I don't think that is true, for a number of reasons. To mention just a couple, it requires reorganization of thought and flow, and it requires choosing words and phrases that work metrically rather than words and phrases that are chosen solely because they are the best words to render the Hebrew into English. Once again, the question arises: Once you permit an external concern (something beyond conveying the meaning, which incidentally is the aim even of a paraphrase) to govern your translation, where is the limit?

An English translation treads the dynamic between lexical equivalence and dynamic equivalence. You seem to suggest that a metrical rendering can be as lexically (and dynamically, for that matter) equivalent as a translation can be. If I were teaching a Hebrew class, and a student translated a passage the way it is rendered metrically in a psalter, would I praise them for a good and accurate translation? Probably not. I'd probably say -- assuming that the metrical rendering was well done -- "That's a pretty good interpretive paraphrase, and it sounds nice, but it's not really a translation. Try again."

I'm not EP, but I have been trying to follow this discussion, and it seems to me that the question has been answered:

1. You sing the Psalms only, quite apart from the issue of whether or not this is done well or accurately. So, the answer to the question, "how does one go about setting the biblical limit" is, "you limit it to the Psalms."

2. Metrical versions aim to be only as paraphrastic as any English translation would be. Introducing the "external force" of meter is no different in principle than introducing the "external force" of English grammar and syntax. So the answer to the question of "how paraphrastic one can be" is "as least paraphrastic as possible given the nature of the medium."

3. If that sounds a little slippery, the OP has already supplied an answer: "all excellent worship requires careful thought and wisdom to make sure that it is biblical." But just because putting Psalms in metre requires a little paraphrasing -- or translating, if you prefer -- does not mean that you can then charge down the hill toward hymns and other musical "summaries of biblical truth."
 

Glenn Ferrell

Puritan Board Junior
The standard for translation of a Psalm into metrical form should require inclusion of all the ideas of the plain language Psalm in the metrical form. The Scottish Psalter of 1650 does a good job in this regard. However, when ideas contained in the original Psalm are deliberately “paraphrased” or distorted out of the metrical form, it seriously departs from the original inspired text. The 1912 UPCNA Psalter seem to do this in terms of imprecations. Such should be unacceptable to anyone holding to the singing of exclusive canonical material.

What can be sung is another issue, as already stated. Singing of Psalms is an element of worship as the reading of scripture, preaching, prayer and sacraments are. These are distinct. While one may quote a theological work in a sermon, one would not substitute even the most excellent theologian for the reading of scripture. While the content of prayer and preaching are not dictated, EP proponents would argue that the content of scripture reading and sung praise are fixed, and must be limited to canonical content. As fine as these i may be, one does not substitute the Confession or Catechism for scripture reading, though such may guide the theme of preaching and of course be quoted in the context of preaching as an illustration.

Also, what is the warrant for congregational reading or reciting of a creed or part of the confessional standards in worship? I believe this may be justified as the Confession XXI:5 includes– “beside religious oaths, vows...”– vows as an additional and occasional element of worship. In the same way we hear baptismal vows of new members in public worship, older members may affirm their faith as a congregation by reading part of the Confession of Catechism. Such constitutes a public vow.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
We obviously have different definitions of the phrase "how something is to be sung." I don't regard the distinction between translation and paraphrase as falling into the realm of "how" something is to be sung, but quite definitely "what" is to be sung. For me, "how" something is to be sung would include things like whether there is accompaniment, what key the music is in, how loud or soft one sings, whether amplification is used. Being a musician, the "how" refers to the musical aspects. The words are quite definitely the "content" of what is sung. Whether we use a paraphrase or a literal translation refers to the content of the singing. The content of the words change from paraphrase to literal translation. I would think this is self-evident.
According to the title of this thread, you were asking a question for "Exclusive Psalmodists," among others. I provided you with an exclusive Psalmodist response. If you were only interested in receiving an answer which validated your own definitions and what was self-evident to your own position, then it is clear your question was not a genuine enquiry, but a mask for arguing your own position.

As ones who are committed to the regulative principle, the first question is, and must be, What does God's word prescribe as the content to be sung in public worship? If, in answering that question, we arrive at the conclusion of the Westminster Confession, and affirm that Psalms are prescribed for singing in public worship, then the content of praise must be Psalms. The next question is, How shall we sing the Psalms? If convention is to be permitted in the singing of Psalms, then a metrical version is circumstantially desirable. If a metrical version is circumstantially desirable, then a translation which accommodates metre is already justified, and there is no need to require prosaic accuracy in translation. Should one decide that a metrical version requires too much paraphrase, to the point that it is questionable whether the Psalms are truly being sung, then it would lead to the conclusion that a metrical version is not an appropriate way to sing the Psalms and something more accurate is needed; but it would not call into question the fact that the Psalms ought to be the content of praise-song.

Also, I really fail to see how a summary of biblical teaching is itself not biblical. Wouldn't this be the same kind of hermeneutic that says that the Westminster Standards are not biblical because they are not ipsissima verba? But we have never said this. We have said instead that the Westminster Standards ARE biblical, because they summarize biblical teaching.
Right; and when one "reads the Scriptures" as an element of worship he does not read the Westminster Standards. Likewise, were one to "sing the Scriptures" (allowing for the broadest position you are opposing), one might not sing a summary of the Scriptures and still call it "singing the Scriptures." There are qualitative differences. A person interested in getting to the heart of the matter will be concerned to honour those qualitative differences.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have a question. It's been germinating in my mind for quite some time now.

First point: most Psalms I've seen set to music are set to music that is in meter. This requires a poetic translation of the Psalms. Of course, the Psalms are already poetry, but still, in order to set them into English meter, some level of paraphrase is necessary. Even if the meter is not present, most of the Genevan Psalms are paraphrases as well (albeit excellent ones). The point here is that most Psalms that I've seen set to music are in fact paraphrases of the Psalms set to music.

Second point: many advocates of exclusive Psalmody also advocate catechetical preaching (in addition to expository preaching, not usually in competition with it). Catechisms are summaries of Biblical truth.

The excellent hymns I know are not translations of biblical texts, but summaries of biblical truth.

So the question is this: where is the limit for how paraphrastic one can be in exclusive Psalmody, or in exclusive Scripture-only singing; and how does one go about setting the biblical limit for how paraphrastic one can be? If we were to allow preaching on the catechism, for instance, which is a summary of biblical teaching, why could we not allow hymns which are a summary of biblical truth? This question assumes, of course, that there are many hymns out there which are anything but biblical.

One objection I can hear already is that this would let the door in for anything, to which I would answer that all excellent worship requires careful thought and wisdom to make sure that it is biblical.

To make the question concrete, let's take a few phrases from Amazing Grace. "I once was lost, but now am found" could easily be a personal adaption of the parable of the lost sheep. "Was blind but now I see" could be a personalized appropriation of the miracles that Jesus performed on the blind, or the story of Saul. These two phrases are surely biblical in a broader sense. Why would they be excluded, but paraphrases of the Psalms be allowed? Of course, this all presupposes the arguments about exclusive Psalmody already out there. My point is this: if any paraphrasis is allowed, then why are summaries not allowed? How paraphrastic is too paraphrastic? What level of paraphrase is acceptable, and how does one justify this biblically?
1. I do not advocate catechetical preaching, and so will not address its connection with this subject. I also believe in exclusive psalmody, and not Scripture songs only, and will be addressing the question from my own perspective.

2. We sing the Psalms. We sing English, metrical, rhymed versions of Hebrew songs. Yes, some unfortunate translations will occur. But our belief is that the Bible teaches that the Psalms, and only the Psalms, ought to be sung; and that is our goal in all of this. If we are inconsistent in this, that is one thing; but do not try to argue from our supposedly inconsistent practice against our principle, and for your own principle. If we are inconsistent, we would rather give up what is inconsistent in our practice, than give up our principle.

3. There is a difference between speaking of the "paraphrase" present in a Psalter version, and the "paraphrase" present in a regular prose translation of the Bible or Psalms. In the Psalter version, some will call that "paraphrase" when words are given a different order. For example:
Psalm 23:1, 2 (AV): "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."
Psalm 23:1, 2 (1650): "The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want. He makes me down to lie in pastures green: he leadeth me the quiet waters by."
However, it is also known that the simple translation of a sentence from one language to another may require changing word order, in order to "fit" the word order of the target language; and that word order is less of an issue with English poetry. I hope this is not what is meant by "paraphrases" in Psalter versions. You said, in Post #6,
greenbaggins said:
Also, I don't care how close to the text the metrical Psalms are, once you've put them in meter, they are paraphrased. Period.
What is your standard for calling something a "translation" or a "paraphrase," if not a passage coming more or less close to the text?

4. Your question might be returned to yourself. You believe in Sola Scriptura; and that in the ordinance of the reading of Scripture, only Scripture ought to be read. In order to translate the Scriptures from Hebrew or Greek, some level of paraphrase is necessary. "If any paraphrasis is allowed, then why are summaries not allowed? How paraphrastic is too paraphrastic? What level of paraphrase is acceptable, and how does one justify this biblically?" I trust that your arguments that certain lines from "Amazing Grace" are summaries of teachings and parables of Jesus would not lead you to the conclusion that, in translating those passages to serve as translations of the Word of God for English-speaking Christians, we ought to read summaries instead of translations.

5. Exclusive psalmodists believe that only the Psalms of the Bible ought to be sung. This does not force us to the conclusion that they can only be sung in Hebrew, or that versions for singing ought to be "woodenly literal," any more than belief in Sola Scriptura forces a Protestant to the conclusion that the Bible can only be read in Hebrew and Greek, or that translations ought to be "woodenly literal."
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Glenn Ferrell
While the content of prayer and preaching are not dictated, EP proponents would argue that the content of scripture reading and sung praise are fixed, and must be limited to canonical content.
Is it limited to any part of Scripture, or only the Psalms?

Several other questions, anyone:

1) Would any tune or meter be acceptable? E.g. Would a jazz motif or contemporary one be acceptable?

2) Would something like a "formal equivalence" (the translation method of the King James Version) be required? If not, why not?
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
One more question:

3) Since both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 mention psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in tandem, why would only psalms be required?
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
One more question:

3) Since both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 mention psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in tandem, why would only psalms be required?
The Psalms were not originally written as one book, but were divided into 5 smaller collections of books (if I remember correctly). Some were written as prayers others as praise and so forth. "Hymn" actually refers to a certain type of Psalm that was a song of praise used in celebration. "Song" refers to a Psalm recounting the acts of God. And so when the NT church refers to the three, it is actually referring to different parts of the Psalter as we would know it today. Many debate this, but there is more evidence to suggest that the NT church referred back to the Psalter and never to anything uninspired.
 

John Lanier

Puritan Board Junior
One more question:

3) Since both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 mention psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in tandem, why would only psalms be required?
I will answer your question but I will go ahead and say that my answer will be different from most other Exclusive Psalmodists.

First of all you must answer the question as to what those three words mean. Are they three distinct things or are they all different types of psalms (the normal EP position). Since some of the Psalms are referred to as hymns it is possible to conclude that all three are the same (spiritual songs could also be referring to certain Psalms). Do I think it is referring to three different things or to three types of Psalms? I don't know. But it really doesn't matter as far as church services go. Here is why. Look at the context of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3. Is Paul giving guidance on worship within the context of the church service? No. The context is the everyday Christian life. He spends time talking about their walk before God, how they should treat their family, etc. He is not giving guidance on how to order the singing in the worship service. People use this verse to determine what we sing in worship but Paul is not even dealing with that. What he is saying is that when we go about our daily lives, we should sing of God (Acts 16:25, James 5:13). Also, look at where the singing is directed in Colossians 3. It is directed to "one another." It is true that by singing in worship we build one another up but for the most part singing in worship is directed toward God. Therefore, I don't think the New Testament gives us any order at all on what to sing during worship. We just know that they sang (1 Corinthians 14:26). So if we are to follow the RPW, where is the warrant to add hymns and man made songs to worship. It's not there. If you take that out, what is left? The Psalms and only the Psalms. I don't think we are given any order on what to sing because it is understood that the Psalms were what was to be used (just as in the OT). If no change was going to be made, you wouldn't have to tell people what to sing. :2cents:
 
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