An Examination of Exclusive Psalmody

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Ivan

Pastor
Cheer up!

Chrysostom Eph. 5:19:

Dost thou wish, he says, to be cheerful, dost thou wish to employ the day? I give thee spiritual drink; for drunkenness even cuts off the articulate sound of our tongue; it makes us lisp and stammer, and distorts the eyes, and the whole frame together. Learn to sing psalms, and thou shalt see the delightfulness of the employment. For they who sing psalms are filled with the Holy Spirit, as they who sing satanic songs are filled with an unclean spirit.
Wow! Sounds like a Baptist! :think:;)
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Where can you get The Songs of Zion? Crown & Covenant say it is out of print.
Brother Dennis, I only have my personal copy, but I'm happy to lend it to you. I did a search and it looks like it's out of print for a while until the new revisions are made. I also noticed the used copies are selling for like $85; that's nuts!
Hi:

Yes, a new and updated version of The Songs of Zion has been written. My pastor is on the Board that oversees Crown and Covenant Publications, and he showed me an advanced copy of it the other day. I will ask him on Sunday when he expects it to be re-published. It looks good though - quite an expansion from the original.

JD:

I appreciate your input, but are you somewhere going to give an exegesis of your position? I am glad to see that you agree with me on the matter concerning Scripture vs. man's wisdom. I think, then, it would be easy for you to answer this question:

Do the Scriptures treat Preaching (Mt 29:20), Praying (Mt 6:9), and singing (Mt 26:30) in different fashions?

A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice.

Blessings,

-CH
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
JD:

I appreciate your input, but are you somewhere going to give an exegesis of your position? I am glad to see that you agree with me on the matter concerning Scripture vs. man's wisdom. I think, then, it would be easy for you to answer this question:

Do the Scriptures treat Preaching (Mt 29:20), Praying (Mt 6:9), and singing (Mt 26:30) in different fashions?

A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice.

Blessings,

-CH
lol - I think a simple "yes or no" would oversimplify the issue - in one sense, yes in other senses, no.

Before I answer, though - can you help me with your reference?

Mt 29:20 - I can't find the chapter referenced...I think you may have transposed a number :) (trust me when I say - I resonate with that! :))
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Dr. Morey correctly acknowledges the fundamental point of the regulative principle of worship: "that so far as the public worship of God is concerned, whatever is not commanded by Scripture is forbidden."

What is lacking in his article is any justification for including the element of singing in the public worship of God. His denial that the relevant texts are pertinent to public worship practice effectively leaves a church committed to the regulative principle without a warrant for singing "anything," let alone the inspired psalms.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Our church organist is fantastic! You should hear her play Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven during the offering!

KIDDING!!! :lol:
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Schwertley is hardline but helpful.

I read Brian Schwertley's essay, I am was not particularly convinced. If you have ever listened to sermons by him, you may notice how he sees everything as black and white. I consider it to be a lack of maturity to fall into dogma too quickly, and when one is ready to label virtually all mainline Reformed denominations as "not truly Reformed" I think that somewhat lacks humility. I myself was about to sink into a form of Reformed dogma over many such secondary issues when suddenly I saw a friend of mine whom, having held to all those fine points, became totally apostate and rejected all of Christianity althogether. Then I realized that the Christian faith is about a heart transformation, not about keeping a set of rules and standards handed down to us by John Calvin.
So when is it okay to "fall into dogma"? At some point, everything becomes black and white.

Either the mainline denominations are truly reformed or they are not. Both sides are being equally dogmatic.

CT
The funny thing is that according to Schwertley, your denomination is not truly Reformed because they celebrate Christmas and allow musical instruments... Oh, and by the way, some people from my denomination would not consider you to be truly reformed either. :lol:
Permit me to say a word on behalf of Brian Schwertley.
I know Brian. His formal presentation is hardline. He came to the Reformed faith from the charismatic movement after he read Warfield's plan of salvation.
I have found him to be a person who listens to others and trys to understand where they are coming from. He has always been gracious to me when we have discussed issues of morality and faith. Having said that , let me also say that I am well aware that not everyone has had that experience with him.
Brian is someone who never shys from calling sin, sin and error, error. Reading what he has written has taught me a lot, even when I disagree with him. That especially includes his work on exclusive Psalmody.
For the record, I disagree with him on using the Psalms exclusively. I think any passage of scripture may be sung or chanted by the Church. I also believe the Church can sing/chant creedal statements. I think he makes a good case for exclusive Psalmody. I do not find it to be compelling.
 
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Neogillist

Puritan Board Freshman
John Gill himself did not hold to a strict Exclusive Psalmody, but he did encourage Psalm-singing above hymns because he saw there was a sufficient number of Psalms that God had handed down to us in His Word. He points out however that hymns must be in accordance with the confessions of the church. You should check out this excellent sermon of his:
54. A Discourse On Singing Of Psalms
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Hi:

The Songs of Zion revised and updated will come out sometime in 2009. It may come out sooner or later than that - with winter of 2009 being "later." :detective: :gpl:

:sing:

-CH
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
All of the early magisterial Reformers and the vast majority of the Puritans were EP.
Are we talking about Luther, Knox and Calvin here? Those, to me, are "early magisterial reformers".

If that is what you're referring to, then I think this is inaccurate. Take, for instance, the inclusion of Sternhold and Hopkins in the Geneva Bible. Clearly compiled by MRs; Knox and Calvin, perhaps, even being part of the project. Note that S&H include the Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, The Song of the Three Children, Te Deum, the Athanasian Creed, the Suit of a Humble Sinner, Veni Creator, and various other non-EP songs in with the Psalms. S&H, in the Geneva Bible, recommend these songs to be sung in Worship as well as in daily life. In other words, whichever of the MRs that compiled the Geneva Bible was not EP.

Then, we can look at the hymns composed by Luther (which are manifold; some versions of Psalms, some theological in nature), and Calvin's "I greet thee". Certainly, they were not EP.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but I think this sweeping claim is a bit inaccurate; but perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you mean by MRs.

Cheers,

Adam
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not sure if Luther was intended; but as far as the Geneva and S&H, I'm no expert but Wikipeidia indicates the additional non psalm matter was added by John Day, and that it became customary to "bind" S&H with the Geneva which seems to indicate this was something governed more by the publishers, such as others have proved wrt the Scottish psalters, than anything official. For the Scottish angle see the Shorter Works of David Hay Fleming available at the Naphtali Press store (link in sig).
Metrical psalter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
All of the early magisterial Reformers and the vast majority of the Puritans were EP.
Are we talking about Luther, Knox and Calvin here? Those, to me, are "early magisterial reformers".

If that is what you're referring to, then I think this is inaccurate. Take, for instance, the inclusion of Sternhold and Hopkins in the Geneva Bible. Clearly compiled by MRs; Knox and Calvin, perhaps, even being part of the project. Note that S&H include the Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, The Song of the Three Children, Te Deum, the Athanasian Creed, the Suit of a Humble Sinner, Veni Creator, and various other non-EP songs in with the Psalms. S&H, in the Geneva Bible, recommend these songs to be sung in Worship as well as in daily life. In other words, whichever of the MRs that compiled the Geneva Bible was not EP.

Then, we can look at the hymns composed by Luther (which are manifold; some versions of Psalms, some theological in nature), and Calvin's "I greet thee". Certainly, they were not EP.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but I think this sweeping claim is a bit inaccurate; but perhaps I'm misunderstanding what you mean by MRs.

Cheers,

Adam
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
I'm not sure if Luther was intended; but as far as the Geneva and S&H, I'm no expert but Wikipeidia indicates the additional non psalm matter was added by John Day, and that it became customary to "bind" S&H with the Geneva which seems to indicate this was something governed more by the publishers, such as others have proved wrt the Scottish psalters, than anything official. For the Scottish angle see the Shorter Works of David Hay Fleming available at the Naphtali Press store (link in sig).
Metrical psalter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This is not a plausible conjecture for several reasons:

1. These men, undertaking a translation and commentary on all of Holy Writ, could have easily put together an EP collection, if that was their belief;

2. If they believed that God's law forbad anything but the Psalms, they would have been sinning to allow a publisher to add "uninspired hymns". These guys were ready to die for the teaching of Scripture; is it really credible to think this one would get past them?

3. In the 1599 Geneva Bible's notes on Col 3:16, they say "By Psalms he meaneth all godly songs, which were written upon divers occasions, and by hymnes, all such as conteine the prayse of God, and by spirituall songs, other more peculiar and artificious songs which were also in prayse of God, but they were made fuller of musicke". Note, no explicit statement of EP, and a tacit denial of the same, since "all such as conteine the praise of God" were to be used, as they show in S&H at the end of said bible.

4. The S&H at the end of Geneva gives explicit instruction about singing these Psalms and non-Psalms "in the Churches", which, again, would have been objectionable to any EPer to have included in his translation of God's Holy Word.

Cheers,

Adam
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Re #2 it is most certainly plausible. See the referenced Hay Fleming. Also, ideas on EP were considerably less developed in the 16th century. The Geneva and British practice may have been looser than Scottish; that is outside my investigations which has been limited to the Scottish Reformation and Psalter use (where Printers most certainly did take liberties). Puritanism was set on tightening British practice, and did attempt to do so with the Westminster Directory for Public Worship. See the forthcoming review of Nick Needham's work by Matthew Winzer which I've referenced before. Maybe Matthew has some comment he can make on the British Psalters?

I'm not sure if Luther was intended; but as far as the Geneva and S&H, I'm no expert but Wikipeidia indicates the additional non psalm matter was added by John Day, and that it became customary to "bind" S&H with the Geneva which seems to indicate this was something governed more by the publishers, such as others have proved wrt the Scottish psalters, than anything official. For the Scottish angle see the Shorter Works of David Hay Fleming available at the Naphtali Press store (link in sig).
Metrical psalter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This is not a plausible conjecture for several reasons:

1. These men, undertaking a translation and commentary on all of Holy Writ, could have easily put together an EP collection, if that was their belief;

2. If they believed that God's law forbad anything but the Psalms, they would have been sinning to allow a publisher to add "uninspired hymns". These guys were ready to die for the teaching of Scripture; is it really credible to think this one would get past them?

3. In the 1599 Geneva Bible's notes on Col 3:16, they say "By Psalms he meaneth all godly songs, which were written upon divers occasions, and by hymnes, all such as conteine the prayse of God, and by spirituall songs, other more peculiar and artificious songs which were also in prayse of God, but they were made fuller of musicke". Note, no explicit statement of EP, and a tacit denial of the same, since "all such as conteine the praise of God" were to be used, as they show in S&H at the end of said bible.

4. The S&H at the end of Geneva gives explicit instruction about singing these Psalms and non-Psalms "in the Churches", which, again, would have been objectionable to any EPer to have included in his translation of God's Holy Word.

Cheers,

Adam
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The fact that the Apocrypha was printed with the Bible does not suggest that it was to be read in the church service.

As Louis Benson has observed ['The Development of the English Hymn,' Princeton Theological Review 10 (1912), 47, 48], "It is then obvious that the presence of these hymns in the English Psalter does not of itself imply, either in intention or in fact, their use in the church services. As to the actual significance of their inclusion one must form his own conclusions."

We have to remember, when dealing with a period of reform, that not everything was necessarily done according to an ideal pattern.

Most hymnody scholars agree that uninspired hymns found their way into reformed churches by means of dissatisfaction with the psalms. Benson's conclusion was as follows (ibid, p. 54): "As the result of our examination we are compelled to conclude that in spite of appearances the hymns appended to the English and Scottish Psalters must be regarded as an episode, and one of no great significance, in the history of Psalmody rather than as a link in the continuity of the development of the English Hymn. Their relation to church worship is indeterminate. They did not become the nucleus of a Hymnal. They were hardly even prophetic of the lines on which the Hymn developed; for the demand for hymns grew out of long experience in singing metrical Psalms, and not out of any satisfaction in the use of appended hymns.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
and Calvin's "I greet thee". Certainly, they were not EP.
I've addressed the claim that Calvin authored that hymn previously in this post:

Hymn Recommendations
Very interesting.

Is it not true, however, that the Genevan Psalter included Canticles and other non-Psalm pieces of music set down to be sung in the Churches? Same as S&H...


Cheers,

Adam
The point I was addressing was the assertion that Calvin wrote a hymn, which is often claimed as proof that Calvin would not be opposed to the singing of uninspired compositions in public worship. Although I do not claim that he was EP, I do believe he believed that only inspired words should be sung, even if they came from other books in the Bible besides the Psalter. The only exception to this that I can think of would be the Apostles Creed, and that was certainly believed by some to be in fact Apostolic (although I am not claiming one way or the other whether Calvin thought this -- it is an area which I need to research further personally). But given what he said in his preface to the 1543 psalter and elsewhere about the desirability of singing to God the words given to us by God, and the lack of proof that he composed a hymn for singing; as well as the well known history of printers adding to the Psalter many things useful to the church but not necessarily intended for singing in public worship, I think the presumption should be that as far as Calvin was concerned only inspired compositions should be sung. This is not the strict EP position, but it is a position that John Murray allowed for in the minority OPC report on psalmody, ie., inspired praise only. And it is far cry from allowing for uninspired hymns. So I think one should not assume (as has been done by many with respect to the authorship of "I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art" that it was by Calvin and therefore Calvin approved uninspired hymns) that just because non-Psalms are included in Reformation psalters that this means they were sung in public worship. Granting the historical reality of what was in certain psalters does not lead to the necessary conclusion that non-Psalms were sung in such situations. Which also does not mean that they were EP.

But as for the majority of Puritans, I think the preface to the 1673 Scottish Metrical Psalter or the Bay Psalm Book is worth consulting:

Links and Downloads Manager - Worship - Calvin's Preface to the Genevan Psalter - The PuritanBoard
Links and Downloads Manager - Worship - Luther's Preface to the Psalter - The PuritanBoard
Links and Downloads Manager - Worship - Puritan Preface to the Scottish Metrical Psalter - The PuritanBoard
Links and Downloads Manager - Worship - Preface to the Bay Psalm Book - The PuritanBoard
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Hi:

The Songs of Zion revised and updated will come out sometime in 2009. It may come out sooner or later than that - with winter of 2009 being "later." :detective: :gpl:

:sing:

-CH
Mike Bushell told me today that Crown & Covenant has had his manuscript for about 9 months and he doesn't know what the hold up is, except for the fact that they don't have a full-time editor.

He says the new edition will be 50% larger than the previous edition and includes new research on the synagogue in the NT and interacts with more recent arguments posed contra exclusive psalmody that have come up since the book was first published nearly 30 years ago.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
The fact that the Apocrypha was printed with the Bible does not suggest that it was to be read in the church service.
Rev. Wintzer,

Thank you for the information on the Psalters in general. I need to study this issue more closely.

One quick comment on the statement above about the Apocrypha. In the Geneva Bible, as I'm sure you are aware, the preface to the first book tells us what attitude we are to have toward these books: some interesting history, but not inspired by God; we can learn some lessons for our lives. When the Psalter was printed, the instruction was clear that these Psalms, Scripture songs, Creeds and uninspired hymns were specifically injoined to be sung "in the churches". No such thing was said about reading the Apocrypha "in the churches".

Cheers,

Adam
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
The point I was addressing was the assertion that Calvin wrote a hymn, which is often claimed as proof that Calvin would not be opposed to the singing of uninspired compositions in public worship. Although I do not claim that he was EP, I do believe he believed that only inspired words should be sung, even if they came from other books in the Bible besides the Psalter. The only exception to this that I can think of would be the Apostles Creed, and that was certainly believed by some to be in fact Apostolic (although I am not claiming one way or the other whether Calvin thought this -- it is an area which I need to research further personally).
Andrew,

Thank you for the information! You are always a wealth of info.

Calvin didn't believe the "Apostles Creed" to be apostolic; he even takes exception to the descendit. Anywho, I took your post to be defending the idea that Calvin was EP; sorry for misunderstanding.

I think the point I was trying to make is that the sober and sound method is to have things sung in the Church that are sound and sober. Scripture, or course, ranks first; then the Catholic Creeds and Symbols (Apostles, Nicene, Athanasian, Chalcedonian); then the ground gets a bit shakey.

I'm with the Geneva Psalter and S&H on this; I think there are very few "solid" uninspired hymns, but I think the overreaction of throwing all of them out is not "sound and sober".

Cheers,

Adam
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
JD:

I appreciate your input, but are you somewhere going to give an exegesis of your position? I am glad to see that you agree with me on the matter concerning Scripture vs. man's wisdom. I think, then, it would be easy for you to answer this question:

Do the Scriptures treat Preaching (Mt 28:20), Praying (Mt 6:9), and singing (Mt 26:30) in different fashions?

A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice.

Blessings,

-CH
Hi - sorry I have been so long getting to this - I have had to focus on work and my local congregation (gasp! :lol:) - I think I will pull this into a new thread, at some point.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
The point I was addressing was the assertion that Calvin wrote a hymn, which is often claimed as proof that Calvin would not be opposed to the singing of uninspired compositions in public worship. Although I do not claim that he was EP, I do believe he believed that only inspired words should be sung, even if they came from other books in the Bible besides the Psalter. The only exception to this that I can think of would be the Apostles Creed, and that was certainly believed by some to be in fact Apostolic (although I am not claiming one way or the other whether Calvin thought this -- it is an area which I need to research further personally).
Andrew,

Thank you for the information! You are always a wealth of info.

Calvin didn't believe the "Apostles Creed" to be apostolic; he even takes exception to the descendit. Anywho, I took your post to be defending the idea that Calvin was EP; sorry for misunderstanding.
On the point about Calvin's views on the apostolic origin of the Apostles Creed, I think his views were more ambiguous than this. At least William Cunningham takes him to be favorable to the idea that the AC was of apostolic origin.

William Cunningham, Historical Theology, Chap. 3:

Some of the early Protestant writers, such as the Magdeburg Centuriators, were disposed to concede the apostolic origin of the Creed, influenced apparently by the desire of being able to maintain, in opposition to the Romish charge against them of departing from the apostolic faith, that they held the whole doctrines which the apostles embodied in their summary of faith. Even Calvin[4] talks as if he had no great objection to concede to it an apostolic origin, and were rather disposed to favor the notion. It is nothing more than ascribing to Calvin (who may be fairly regarded as being, all things considered, the greatest and most useful gift that God has given to the church since the apostolic age) a participation in the common infirmities of humanity, if we suppose that he may have been unconsciously disposed to think more favorably of the apostolic origin of the Creed than the historical evidence warrants, because it seems to contain a more explicit assertion than the word of God does, of a doctrine which he held, and to which he appears to have attached some importance, viz., that Christ descended into hell, in this sense, that after death He went to the place of the damned, and shared somehow in their torments. Calvin says that the ancients, with one accord, ascribed it to the apostles, and Newman says that the evidence of its apostolic origin is the same in kind as that for the Scriptures.

[4] Instit., L. 2., c. 16, sec. 18.
John Calvin, Institutes, 2.16.18:

It is most consolatory to think, that judgment is vested in him who has already destined us to share with him in the honour of judgment, (Matth. 19: 28; ) so far is it from being true, that he will ascend the judgment-seat for our condemnation. How could a most merciful prince destroy his own people? how could the head disperse its own members? how could the advocate condemn his clients? For if the Apostle, when contemplating the interposition of Christ, is bold to exclaim, "Who is he that condemneth?" (Rom. 8: 33,) much more certain is it that Christ, the intercessor, will not condemn those whom he has admitted to his protection. It certainly gives no small security, that we shall be sisted at no other tribunal than that of our Redeemer, from whom salvation is to be expected; and that he who in the Gospel now promises eternal blessedness, will then as judge ratify his promise. The end for which the Father has honoured the Son by committing all judgment to him, (John 5: 22,) was to pacify the consciences of his people when alarmed at the thought of judgment. Hitherto I have followed the order of the Apostles' Creed, because it states the leading articles of redemption in a few words, and may thus serve as a tablet in which the points of Christian doctrine, most deserving of attention, are brought separately and distinctly before us. I call it the Apostles' Creed, though I am by no means solicitous as to its authorship. The general consent of ancient writers certainly does ascribe it to the Apostles, either because they imagined it was written and published by them for common use, or because they thought it right to give the sanction of such authority to a compendium faithfully drawn up from the doctrine delivered by their hands. I have no doubt, that, from the very commencement of the Church, and, therefore, in the very days of the Apostles, it held the place of a public and universally received confession, whatever be the quarter from which it originally proceeded. It is not probable that it was written by some private individual, since it is certain that, from time immemorial, it was deemed of sacred authority by all Christians. The only point of consequence we hold to be incontrovertible, viz., that it gives, in clear and succinct order, a full statement of our faith, and in every thing which it contains is sanctioned by the sure testimony of Scripture. This being understood, it were to no purpose to labour anxiously, or quarrel with any one as to the authorship, unless, indeed, we think it not enough to possess the sure truth of the Holy Spirit, without, at the same time, knowing by whose mouth it was pronounced, or by whose hand it was written.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I was reading an article which said that elders in some Presbyterian churches wrote their own songs for each week's service. Does anyone know anything about that?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The article mentioned it in passing, without noting the source.
You remember the author or the title of the article?
No, I don't. I can give very little information that way. Only that it was a Fanny Crosby biography. It briefly noted that her initial Presbyterian background included this practice. She was writing songs at a very early age, and the suggestion was that her early Christian upbringing disposed her therefore to write church songs, in keeping with the practice of her church (which was Presbyterian) whose elders composed songs for each week's service. I'm going more by the impression given than the actual words; I am not able to quote it as I don't have my own copy of the article.

If this was a practice in some churches, then it would be possible that there is a record of it somewhere. I haven't been able to locate anything as yet. It kind of fits in with my studies on the history of music, and I'd be interested in finding that article back. I read it some time ago, and just made a mental note because it was an interesting fact. But now it's become of greater interest, how it fits in with how music was developing in the South at the same time, (e.g., Golden Harp).
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The article mentioned it in passing, without noting the source.
You remember the author or the title of the article?
No, I don't. I can give very little information that way. Only that it was a Fanny Crosby biography. It briefly noted that her initial Presbyterian background included this practice. She was writing songs at a very early age, and the suggestion was that her early Christian upbringing disposed her therefore to write church songs, in keeping with the practice of her church (which was Presbyterian) whose elders composed songs for each week's service. I'm going more by the impression given than the actual words; I am not able to quote it as I don't have my own copy of the article.

If this was a practice in some churches, then it would be possible that there is a record of it somewhere. I haven't been able to locate anything as yet. It kind of fits in with my studies on the history of music, and I'd be interested in finding that article back. I read it some time ago, and just made a mental note because it was an interesting fact. But now it's become of greater interest, how it fits in with how music was developing in the South at the same time, (e.g., Golden Harp).
Wikipedia does not mention any Presbyterian background, but this would have been PCUSA in any event I'm sure (born 1820). Still, I suspect it was an unusual practice. Must have been some talented elders.
Fanny Crosby - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Perhaps this is slightly off-topic but I'm curious. For the churches who are EP and use no musical instruments, how many conversions to Christ do they see? Have any been reported? Do they generally keep their young folks during the 15-25 year age range? How does this compare to Reformed, hymn-singing churches who use musical instruments, even (horrors of horrors) guitars and drums? I've seen one of the latter, a CR church in Canada, which has very effective evangelism but perhaps this is exceptional.
 
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