Any EPers in Hymn Singing Churches?

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Cotton Mather, May 17, 2008.

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  1. Cotton Mather

    Cotton Mather Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi everyone. I've recently embraced exclusive Psalmody as the only consistently Biblical application of the regulative principle to our congregational singing. John Murray's thoughts on the issue clinched everything for me. Nevertheless, I'm a member of a church who embraces historic hymnody fervently. Part of me doesn't want to be divisive, yet part of me feels as though I'm violating my conscience in the singing of hymns. Are there any other exclusive Psalmodist's on the board who are members or attend hymn singing churches? If so, what are your personal reccomendations with regards to how EPer's should respond in hymn singing congregations? Sometimes I bring my Psalter along and attempt to find a similar Psalm with the same meter as the hymn we're singing. This works sometimes, but I'm not musically trained, and its often distracting and time consuming in the corporate worship setting. I know this is a highly personal issue, and every man must answer his own conscience. Still, some practical instruction might help. Thanks!
  2. AV1611

    AV1611 Puritan Board Senior

    I hold to EP and attend an Anglican church where EP is not practiced. Because there is an 8am service where nothing is sung I attend that (plus it is Communion). If this service did not exist I would still attend however I would not sing anything other than the few psalms they now sing. Since I started at this church we have had a curate arrive who believes that psalms should be sung and uses them in the services he takes. So now at least they sing them. Prior to his coming none were sung.

    On a practical level, I explain why we should sing psalms, and encourage all I meet to sing them. I even wrote an article :)
  3. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I don't sing the hymns or stand up (the posture for singing used). If there is a psalm, even a poorer rendition, I'll stand up and sing. One of the three in the service is usually a psalm, often two, and sometimes three out of three. I would not do anything distracting to others such as singing a psalm or something; I usually sit quietly; sometimes read the hymn to see what is being sung. I would prefer knowing in advance what is to be sung but these are not posted during the week so I have to check the song selections, even the "psalms" to see if I will sing any.
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  4. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Glad to see another ARP on these here boards, especially another one in my Presbytery. As far as your predicament goes it is worth noting that the ARP is a historically EP denomination, only switching 50 years ago. However since yours is a mission congregation I know this is not part of their heritage. If you feel it is damaging your ability worship God there is an RPCNA church in Hazleton (a good distance I know). Have you spoken with Rev. Bell about this?
  5. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Jordan -- Welcome to the Puritan Board! :welcome: I hope that your first post/thread doesn't generate too many fireworks for you.

    I rejoice to hear that you have embraced EP and also that you are not running for the exit door of your church. Unity with the brethen, and honoring the authority that is over you, and endeavoring to live at peace with those around you inasmuch as possible, are all vital components of the Christian walk. I would submit that not singing hymns in public worship is no disrespect to those around you or over you, and to do otherwise is to compromise the principle that you embrace. You are serving God, not man, by refraining from singing the hymn, and as you do so, you must find that balance between honoring Him and those around/over you.

    I say this as one who has "served time" in non-EP churches, although I am blessed to be part of an EP denomination at present.

    Respectful silence, reading along in your Psalter (can you find out what hymns are being sung in advance and do some advance homework to find a corresponding psalm?) or Bible, praying...these are all reasonable ways to redeem the time while the congregation is singing a hymn.
  6. Cotton Mather

    Cotton Mather Puritan Board Freshman

    Backwoods Presbyterian-
    Definitely glad to be on the board. My wife and I recently joined Faith and we're absolutely delighted by the church, having been without a Reformed church for so long. Like I said, I've been studying and praying over the issue of exclusive Psamody for a few years now. It's only within the past few weeks that I've come to embrace it. Thererfore, I haven't had a chance to speak with my pastor about it yet. I definitely will do.

    Thanks so much for the encouragement and advice. It's unfortunate that such widespread confessional abberation exists on this particular issue. Even more sad is that Psalmody has been entirely replaced by an "exclusive hymnody" of sorts in most churches. An inclusive Psamody which balances hymns and Psalms is hard to find, let alone an EP church! It seems like much of the Reformed world has inherited a distinctly Lutheran and/or Anglican approach to musical form without really being aware of it. Wisdom, patience, grace, and an uncompromising stand for truth are needed virtues in this situation. Thanks again!
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  7. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    I've recently embraced the EP position myself. However, to the best of my knowledge the nearest EP church is probably 150 miles from me. Though I embrace it and believe it to be true, it is a new postion to me and took me years to come too, much like the sabbath postion.
    I will stay and by the grace of God serve the people in my congregation and will not be devisive about it. I figure they, as well as the Lord, put up with a lot of my ignorance so I'll put up with thiers. Since it is not a salvific issue I will bite my lip and sing along. At my house though, we are singing and listening to the Psalms.:2cents:
  8. R Harris

    R Harris Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am currently in a congregation like that of Chris, where Psalms and uninspired hymns are also sung. The position above is the one that I take when a Psalm is not being sung.
  9. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I am not an EPer, though I strongly believe we should be singing Psalms in worship along with the hymns. I also believe the hymns should be doctrinally sound. Can I add something from the perspective of someone who does not hold to the EP viewpoint?

    Corporate worship is about unity, not division. If someone sits and does not join in with the singing for any reason, it can be a huge distraction for me, especially if I see the person is singing other words or doing something else during the corporate singing.

    Corporate worship is about joining together with "one heart" and "one mind" unlike private worship which is primarily about our one-on-one relationship to God. When we worship God as the body of Christ we have to take into consideration our brothers and sisters in the Lord. When we sing, we sing with our whole hearts, and we join in with our fellow believers with one voice in worship to our Lord. If I sit out and don't participate, I may as well be at home, because I am not wholehearted about my worship, neither am I worshipping with my brothers and sisters.
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    That basically explains why I advise EP people to go to an EP church. :2cents:
  11. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    And one reason why I advise non-EP churches to become EP churches. If you want me to sing along, and if you want to join together in one heart and mind, then let's sing God's songs together, and be in unity with each other and the saints throughout history. Don't give me a list of hymns to sing that I have to scrutinize while singing to make sure that I'm not singing something against my conscience - a thing quite distracting. Instead, let's sing the Word of God, which judges me, not man's hymns, which I must judge "doctrinally sound," usually while also trying to engage the material. There was nothing that annoyed me more about worship services before I became Reformed and EP (except maybe the lack of balance in themes and common sentimentalism) than getting to the end of a few lines of a song only to wish I had never sung them.
  12. R Harris

    R Harris Puritan Board Sophomore

    However, this could apply to several other elements in the worship also.

    Suppose the preaching is not sound doctrinally. Should I not return again? Certainly I will speak to the pastor and get clarification. But suppose he preaches amil, and I believe postmil?

    What if the pastor does not give the admonition for those who are not believers to not partake of the Lord's Supper, and I know a person who is a non-believer sitting in the pew ahead of me and partakes of the Supper. Should I still partake, or should I let the elements pass by?

    The point is there can be numerous instances where one's conscience could potentially be violated in almost any given worship service. Should I break fellowship because all members of the congregation don't believe and think the same way that I do? One could find himself or herself to become lonely very quickly.

    I do not believe in worshipping at home alone if there is no "perfect" RPW church within 100 miles. I think you talk and work with the session and other members of the congregation to try and bring about change. I don't see how isolationism really helps anything. There is enough schism in American Christianity already; unless there is a very strong compelling reason, I will not add to it. And simply refusing to sing one or two hymns that I believe are not honoring to the Lord is not it.
  13. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Hi Jordan,

    As a pastoral matter I think it will be a long and difficult struggle to communicate the historic RPW to a subjectivist generation. A lot of our people don't understand the RPW. Many, perhaps most, have never heard of the RPW. Most couldn't state it clearly or correctly or concisely. But they think they understand worship. They don't know our doctrine of the atonement but they know what they feel and experience during worship. Many of our people (those in ostensibly confessional congregations) don't come from Reformed backgrounds. That can breed a certain resistance to the RPW. OTOH, those who've been raised in the hymn-singing, instrument playing Reformed churches think "this is how Reformed churches worship." They're shocked to find out that, no, this isn't historic or confessional Reformed worship.

    All this is to say that, if it took the Reformed churches 30+ years to face the Shepherd controversy and that was about heaven and hell (righteousness with God), how much longer will it take us all, when about 1% of NAPARC actually consistently,regularly, practices the RPW as historically understood, to reform worship? It will take a long, long time. Most people don't even know there's a problem.

    This means that those who hold the historic RPW will have to be very patient, calm, and gracious with our brothers and sisters (and their pastors, sessions, and consistories) who've not yet faced this issue or who have decided in favor of the status quo.

    For my part, I try to find a psalm in the same meter and I sing along quietly. If I can't, then I stand (if the congregation is standing), so as not to disturb the congregation and draw attention to myself. I wouldn't judge anyone for a different approach. Frankly we're in uncharted waters.

    We spent the last 150 years fighting the liberals and when we came back home from the war we found that our churches were in tatters theologically and liturgically. They weren't in grand shape, in every regard, before the war. It will take time.
  14. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

  15. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    I am in a hymn singing church. But Franklin Square OPC in Long Island is the most biblical church in the NYC area. I have to be thankful for what I have.
  16. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Pastor Shishko's lectures were very helpful to me on the baptism issue. :up:
  17. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    he's a great pastor. He even took time off to take me to lunch.
  18. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    Do most EPers think its a sin to sing hymns in church?
  19. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Some EPers in our congregation will stand when the congregation stands, but they won't sing anything but Psalms. They read the Psalms included in the hymnbook, but have never muddied the waters about it (though naturally they've given the pastor some reading material).
  20. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Yes, that is reason for the (E) in EP. There is a command to sing psalms in worship and no command to sing uninspired hymns in worship; therefore, the singing of uninspired hymns in worship is prohibited in toto by the RPW (ie., second commandment).
  21. Beth Ellen Nagle

    Beth Ellen Nagle Puritan Board Senior

    I am a member of a church that sings both psalms and hymns. Our Pastor knows we don't sing hymns and there is no issue. We have a good gracious relationship with him. We stand during the hymn and read along. Reading along isn't an issue as I can withhold my "amen" but singing is always "amen" in worship. :) In the same way I can withhold assent during sermons and prayer (except the Lord's Prayer)...etc.
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  22. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    I've spent a good deal of time in hymn-singing churches since I became EP... and I currently attend Chapel services, where the only Psalm that gets sung is the one I lead everybody in singing in the morning Traditional service. I usually stand while the hymns or contemporary songs are being sung (although if the "worship set" of contemporary songs is too long, and I'm tired, I might sit down for the fourth or fifth song). My practice seems different from that of others, in that I won't even sing a Psalm, if it's being accompanied by a musical instrument. While I was attending Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC) in LaGrange, GA, the pastor (Alan Boyd), after realizing this, would have the piano cut out while they were singing the Psalms out of Trinity Psalter -- for their "Covenanter brother," as he would say. :)
  23. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    God bless that Pastor in LaGrange.
  24. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    As my wife and I were convinced of EP while we were in the PCA, our practice was to stand and meditate on the words of the hymn quietly while the congregation sang. Eventually however, it became apparant to us that we were sinning in that we were not obeying the positive command to sing Psalms to the Lord. We soon began to discuss this with the session, and with their blessing transfered our membership to the local RPCNA where we currently are members.

    I along with others agree that one should approach this issue carefully while in a church that sings hymns. I think it is important that one be careful not to cause division in the church, but at the same time, if people are willing to listen, I don't see a problem explaining the EP position to them, understanding that God brings people along at different times, and by different means.
  25. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Reading this thread again it strikes me deeply the graciousness of EP'ers. (not saying non-EP'ers are not)...
  26. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Jodan, although I am sad to see you have fallen into the error of EP, I must say that those EP brothers on the board have given you very sound, practical advice.

    I find Andrew's post to be especially gracious & practical.

    Since I am opposed to individualism in the the church, I find the EP view to be contrary to sound church government, for that reason I encourage you to follow the wisdom of older brothers here who have encouraged you to respect your local situation, while maintaining a clear conscience.

  27. SolaGratia

    SolaGratia Puritan Board Junior

    Within my denomination (RCUS) most pastors who have graduated from WTS back in the 50's, 60's and 70's, seem to me, to adhere mostly to not singing only the psalms. I do not understand why when professor John Murray, who was an EP, also has a tremendous influence on their lives.

    Maybe, because they did not worshipped at JM church or they are not that familair with the pro EP arguments, I do not know.

    What do you guys think is the case as to why most of the Reformed community is reluctant into not singing only the psalms without bringing into mind the subjectivism of our culture, which does exist in our churches?

    The Peace of Christ.
  28. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    Jordan, although it would seem that (as Dr. Clark wisely alluded to) an instantaneous perfect solution will not arise within the context of your current church, a "compromise" of sorts might go a long way. I would speak with your pastor and tell him of your concerns. As you are ARP, the singing of psalms (even 1 or 2) during a worship service has been strongly encouraged by General Synod. Even if he does want to go to EP, perhaps he would be open to incorporating a couple into the service.

    As an encouragement to you, I attended a church once that was not EP (they used the red Trinity Hymnal along with the Trinity Psalter), but it became very apparent over the course of just a few months that they were singing more and more from the psalter than the hymnal. When I was in seminary, I assisted the pastor at an ARP church I was a member of, and one of the things I suggested for the worship service (which the Session approved) was the singing of a psalm after the Call to Worship. I left that church 4 years ago to take a pastorate, but they are still singing a psalm after the CtW.
  29. Robbie Schmidtberger

    Robbie Schmidtberger Puritan Board Freshman

    I am EP worshipping in a Non-p context. All my elders know my EP convictions (one of them is my father in law) and they have been very helpful (though they disagree with me). There is an effort to include psalms. When I got married and moved into the area I had a choice in where to worship. My conclusion was that psalm singing is important, but it is not the end all be all calling of the church. There are many other factors and things to consider. I urge to talk to the elders and look at the big picture.

    If you want to know what I do when a hymn or song is sung. I stand, open up the hymnal and follow along. My best friend stands and reads his Bible. That can be distracting, it would be to me. That is why I do what I do.

    If it is a psalm, whether Trinity Hymnal, the 1912 Psalter-Hymnal, or otherwise I sing.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2008
  30. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Seeing this thread again, I realized that I should note that my views have changed slightly. Since I became EP in 2000, up until a few months ago, I would refuse even to sing a Psalm in corporate worship, if it was being accompanied by a musical instrument. My views have sufficiently changed, so that I would sing a Psalm, even if accompanied by musical instruments.

    While I was on leave, and I attended the morning and evening services of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids with my fiancee for two Lord's Days, I was therefore quite determined to sing any Psalms (with some exceptions, Isaac Watts being the notable one) sung out of the Baptist Edition of Trinity Hymnal, even with the piano playing. Unfortunately, not a single Psalm was sung in four worship services. :um:
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