EP a Violation of the RPW?

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au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The difference is that the "binding" done at the congregational level is of necessity. Someone has to decide what time to meet and the order of worship. Otherwise everyone does their own thing and there is no true corporate worship. This necessity does not exist between two congregations or even two services. If a congregation wanted to sing Psalm 51 to one setting one week there is no necessity that the next time it sings it it is to the same setting.

For a national church to insist on uniformity in the use of a certain psalter is really no different than if it were to insist on the use of a certain prayer book. It is an unnecessary binding.

I don't think this is necessarily the case. At any rate, I don't think it can be sustained that the Presbyterians and Puritans of the 17th century objected to the prayer book on the grounds that it was too much uniformity, but rather on the grounds that it violated the RPW. They were all for uniformity of worship across churches, as can be seen by their various national covenants calling for covenanted uniformity, as well as by the Directory for Public Worship which they produced, and the Psalter which they commissioned.

From The Solemn League and Covenant:

That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of GOD, endeavor, in our several places and callings, the preservation of the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies; the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the Word of GOD, and the example of the best reformed Churches; and shall endeavour to bring the Churches of GOD in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, Confession of Faith, Form of Church Government, Directory for Worship and Catechising; that we, and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
For a national church to insist on uniformity in the use of a certain psalter is really no different than if it were to insist on the use of a certain prayer book. It is an unnecessary binding.

The parts of worship are different. A congregation which sings together must have a set form to sing, whereas a congregational prayer led by a minister does not require a set form to pray. The "necessity" of a form arises from the part of worship. This will be true whether one sings exclusive psalmody or not.

The restriction to the "Book" of Psalms arises only because of the belief that God has appointed only the singing of Psalms in congregational worship. This therefore becomes the set form in keeping with the regulative principle of worship.

Where a church is Presbyterian and holds it is the responsibility of the Presbytery to oversee purity of worship (which was the conviction of our Presbyterian forebears as evinced by their vows and directions for worship), uniform use of a single book becomes the norm.

I agree that there needs to be agreement as to which psalter and setting to use for any given occasion of congregational singing, but there is no necessity to require the same setting at each time and in each place. It may be desirable, but it is not necessary.

I don't think this is necessarily the case. At any rate, I don't think it can be sustained that the Presbyterians and Puritans of the 17th century objected to the prayer book on the grounds that it was too much uniformity, but rather on the grounds that it violated the RPW. They were all for uniformity of worship across churches, as can be seen by their various national covenants calling for covenanted uniformity, as well as by the Directory for Public Worship which they produced, and the Psalter which they commissioned.

From The Solemn League and Covenant:

That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of GOD, endeavor, in our several places and callings, the preservation of the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies; the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the Word of GOD, and the example of the best reformed Churches; and shall endeavour to bring the Churches of GOD in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, Confession of Faith, Form of Church Government, Directory for Worship and Catechising; that we, and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.

I'm not sure you'll find uniformity, but a great range of views from embrace of the Book of Common Prayer to using it but desiring the freedom to depart from it when desired to rejecting certain parts of it as violating the RPW.

The Directory of Public Worship simply does not function the same way as the Book of Common Prayer. They did not substitute one prayer book for another.

As an aside, I find it ironic that Presbyterians discarded Cranmer's rather good translation of the psalter for translations that consistently insert man's words into the text.
 

Ryan J. Ross

Puritan Board Freshman
To the question, "How would you answer such a charge as Dr. Pratt's?" I respond, "The biblical support for insisting that Psalms be sung in every worship service is warranted to say the least.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I agree that there needs to be agreement as to which psalter and setting to use for any given occasion of congregational singing, but there is no necessity to require the same setting at each time and in each place. It may be desirable, but it is not necessary.

Suppose an old couple has been all their lives singing the psalms in one church, and late in life circumstances bring them to move to another city and transfer to a sister church. Is it not desirable that they be able to sing the same words, perhaps even the same tunes, there as in another church? Is it not desirable that everybody be memorizing and quoting the same psalms in comfort to one another, and passing the same psalms on to their children and grandchildren? Doesn't this foster unity and a common language in the Church, just as using a consistent Bible translation does (and historically, did) the same? I am unable to see this as a negative thing. But we may just have to disagree. In any case, the idea of there being a couple dozen translations of the Psalms in meter from which a church might choose was certainly foreign to the Puritans. They commissioned the translation of a Psalter with the idea that it would be a sufficiently excellent translation that it would be used in Reformed churches across the Three Kingdoms. How different times are now when we tend to regard it as normal for there to be dozens of Bible and Psalter translations in regular use across the Reformed churches, not even to mention hymnals and hymns.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
How different times are now when we tend to regard it as normal for there to be dozens of Bible and Psalter translations in regular use across the Reformed churches, not even to mention hymnals and hymns.

I'd love to see a universal, modern psalter, do you have any ideas for how that might be accomplished? It's great to have uniformity but that only happens if everyone's convictions about it are the same!

Historically, the closest to a universal psalter was the SMV but mainly to Scottish Presbyterians. I don't think it was widely accepted anywhere outside of Scotland for quite a while, certainly not when it was first published.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'd love to see a universal, modern psalter, do you have any ideas for how that might be accomplished? It's great to have uniformity but that only happens if everyone's convictions about it are the same!

Like Bible translation usage, confessional subscription (e.g., 1647 or 1789), and a unified Presbyterian denomination, it just is not going to happen until great strides have been made toward confessional Presbyterians becoming of the same mind. We have been more so in the past and may yet be again in the future. Today, a common Psalter throughout Reformed churches - or even throughout EP Reformed churches - is not going to happen until a lot of other things happen first. Nevertheless, I do not think it is an unworthy hope or that it would bind consciences of individual churches.

Of course, none of this means that a given existing denomination might not come to agreement on a particular Psalter. Some denominations already do that.

If you want my personal opinion, I agree that the SMV is the closest thing there is or has been to a common Psalter, and I think it is an excellent translation. I don't think the "thees" and "thous" need to be updated, but I can see a need for some truly archaic words to be updated (e.g., "kyth'st and wight"). This will require great ecclesiastical unity before it can happen in a way that many Reformed churches will adopt instead of just one denomination.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
If you want my personal opinion, I agree that the SMV is the closest thing there is or has been to a common Psalter, and I think it is an excellent translation. I don't think the "thees" and "thous" need to be updated, but I can see a need for some truly archaic words to be updated (e.g., "kyth'st and wight"). This will require great ecclesiastical unity before it can happen in a way that many Reformed churches will adopt instead of just one denomination.

I'm curious if, in the interest of unity, you would be willing to adopt a different psalter (without thees and thous etc), assuming it is also an excellent translation. I ask because I sincerely doubt that the majority of the Christian church will ever move to the SMV.

I've been thinking about writing up a list of what I think of as criteria for the "best" psalter. Undoubtedly it will differ from other's methodology though.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm curious if, in the interest of unity, you would be willing to adopt a different psalter (without thees and thous etc), assuming it is also an excellent translation.

When I was a member of a different church, the pulpit translation was the ESV. I don't like the ESV as a translation (comparatively speaking - obviously I love it insomuch as it gives the sense of the Word of God), but when the preacher read from it, I said, "Amen," and I considered myself to have heard the Word. If I visited an RPCNA congregation that used the Book of Psalms for Worship (with which I have some translational disagreements which are somewhat significant), I would sing it heartily. So, basically, yes, I would submit to the decision of the Session to use a particular Psalter within reason (i.e., I wouldn't use a Psalter that is equivalent to The Message).

I ask because I sincerely doubt that the majority of the Christian church will ever move to the SMV.

Maybe you're right; maybe not. Either way, this is not how we determine what would be best. We cannot know the future, as it lies in God's secret will. We can only press ourselves and one another to strive to be consistent with God's revealed will. We may disagree on what this entails for a given matter, but this does not mean we should prefer whatever is likely to be popular. Today it looks like the Reformed churches will never all embrace EP, or all the SMV, or all <you name it>. Tomorrow the winds may change. We do not know what tomorrow holds.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Hi Logan, I'm newly registered at Puritan Board, being prompted to finally join by my interest in the Psalms. Based on your psalter reviews, I purchased the split-leaf "Sing Psalms" a while back, and have been trying to learn some of the tunes (not a great sight-reader) when I have time. I already owned the small black SMV. I noticed today as I was comparing Psalm 57 in both psalters that the SMV includes the word "for" in verse 10, while Sing Psalms doesn't. So important! So far, although I'd hoped otherwise, I'm preferring the SMV for that kind of reason (certainly not an expert on those matters). I'm praying for the embracing of a universal psalter, too. (Does one really have to rhyme?)
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Jeri,

Thanks for pointing that out. I'm confess I am having a hard time seeing the significance of the "for" (but then again I am no expert in even my own language!), would you care to elaborate? It seems the "for" is part of one Hebrew word "checed", translated many places as simply "lovingkindness", so I'm not sure it's an unfair translation, but I'd love to hear why so many translations have used the word "for" here.

For reference:

NASB said:
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.

SMV said:
I'll praise thee 'mong the people, Lord;
'mong nations sing will I:
For great to heav'n thy mercy is,
thy truth is to the sky.

Sing Psalms said:
Among the nations, Lord,
to you I will give praise.
Among the peoples of the earth
my songs of you I’ll raise.

Great is your steadfast love,
which reaches to the sky.
Your constant faithfulness, O Lord,
extends to heaven high.
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
The 'for' is attached to the adjective 'great' in Hebrew....literally the line is 'For/because great in the heavens is your steadfast love (chesed) and in the clouds your faithfulness.'

The 'ki-gadol'/'for great' is a reason for the singing and the praise. I'm guessing it has been left out in Sing Psalms because we don't in English normally begin sentences or stanzas with 'for'.

The Psalms for Singing has the following:

"I'll with the peoples praise you, Lord;
among the nations sing will I,
for great's your mercy to the heav'ns,
your faithfulness up to the sky.'

I'd prefer the 'for' present but even without it it's better than 'Shine Jesus Shine'! :)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I agree that there needs to be agreement as to which psalter and setting to use for any given occasion of congregational singing, but there is no necessity to require the same setting at each time and in each place. It may be desirable, but it is not necessary.

Once the version of "the book of Psalms" has been approved, the one conducting the service is free to choose whatever setting he deems appropriate for the context. Nobody dictates the "setting."

This is somewhat irrelevant to your original point which supported the comparison between a psalm book and a prayer book. Once it has been accepted that a form is necessary for singing, and the Psalms themselves comprise the book that is to be sung, it is obvious that there is no restriction on the liberty of a congregation by requiring a Psalm book as there would be by requiring a prayer book.
 

Pilgrim Standard

Puritan Board Sophomore
it is obvious that there is no restriction on the liberty of a congregation by requiring a Psalm book as there would be by requiring a prayer book.
I agree, as requiring the Psalter is synonymous with requiring canonical scripture, provided it only contained the 150 Psalms. Requiring a Book of Prayer is not the same as they contain that which is not scripture.

But... perhaps that's why it is obvious.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Jeri,

Thanks for pointing that out. I'm confess I am having a hard time seeing the significance of the "for" (but then again I am no expert in even my own language!), would you care to elaborate? It seems the "for" is part of one Hebrew word "checed", translated many places as simply "lovingkindness", so I'm not sure it's an unfair translation, but I'd love to hear why so many translations have used the word "for" here.

For reference:

NASB said:
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.

SMV said:
I'll praise thee 'mong the people, Lord;
'mong nations sing will I:
For great to heav'n thy mercy is,
thy truth is to the sky.

Sing Psalms said:
Among the nations, Lord,
to you I will give praise.
Among the peoples of the earth
my songs of you I’ll raise.

Great is your steadfast love,
which reaches to the sky.
Your constant faithfulness, O Lord,
extends to heaven high.

Hi Logan, I've just seen the great value of the old axiom, "When you see a 'for' (or a 'therefore' or any other subordinate conjunction, conjunctive adverb, etc.) in the text, look back to see what it's there for" (or something close to that!). Those important parts of speech that show cause and effect- God's deeds or attributes being the cause, the effect being our response of worship, so important to preserve in both the Scripture text and our songs. I know almost nothing of Hebrew, so can't determine where the text really should not contain those parts of speech. I'm just trusting translations like the NASB and others that have it in there. I just happened to catch that omission in Psalm 57 yesterday as I was learning it, and haven't looked any further. I appreciated the SMV keeping the "for" in that instance.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Hi Logan, I've just seen the great value of the old axiom, "When you see a 'for' (or a 'therefore' or any other subordinate conjunction, conjunctive adverb, etc.) in the text, look back to see what it's there for" (or something close to that!). Those important parts of speech that show cause and effect- God's deeds or attributes being the cause, the effect being our response of worship, so important to preserve in both the Scripture text and our songs. I know almost nothing of Hebrew, so can't determine where the text really should not contain those parts of speech. I'm just trusting translations like the NASB and others that have it in there. I just happened to catch that omission in Psalm 57 yesterday as I was learning it, and haven't looked any further. I appreciated the SMV keeping the "for" in that instance.

Sure, and in no way do I suggest we should change God's word, yet part of me wonders what is lost if the word is missing (there are far more significant omissions in both psalters). Regardless, I don't think you'll ever find a perfect psalter. There will always be some phrasing important to someone that is missed (the same is true for translations). For example, in Psalm 18:31, the SMV misses the "for" while "Sing Psalms" retains it:

NASB said:
As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the LORD is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God,

SMV said:
As for God, perfect is his way:
the Lord his word is try'd;
He is a buckler to all those
who do in him confide.

Who but the Lord is God? but he
who is a rock and stay?

Sing Psalms said:
For perfect is the way of God;
No flaw is found within his word.
To all who put their trust in him
A shield and refuge is the LORD.

For who is God except the LORD?
Besides our God, who is the Rock?
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Hi Logan, I've just seen the great value of the old axiom, "When you see a 'for' (or a 'therefore' or any other subordinate conjunction, conjunctive adverb, etc.) in the text, look back to see what it's there for" (or something close to that!). Those important parts of speech that show cause and effect- God's deeds or attributes being the cause, the effect being our response of worship, so important to preserve in both the Scripture text and our songs. I know almost nothing of Hebrew, so can't determine where the text really should not contain those parts of speech. I'm just trusting translations like the NASB and others that have it in there. I just happened to catch that omission in Psalm 57 yesterday as I was learning it, and haven't looked any further. I appreciated the SMV keeping the "for" in that instance.

Sure, and in no way do I suggest we should change God's word, yet part of me wonders what is lost if the word is missing (there are far more significant omissions in both psalters). Regardless, I don't think you'll ever find a perfect psalter. There will always be some phrasing important to someone that is missed (the same is true for translations). For example, in Psalm 18:31, the SMV misses the "for" while "Sing Psalms" retains it:

NASB said:
As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the LORD is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except our God,

SMV said:
As for God, perfect is his way:
the Lord his word is try'd;
He is a buckler to all those
who do in him confide.

Who but the Lord is God? but he
who is a rock and stay?

Sing Psalms said:
For perfect is the way of God;
No flaw is found within his word.
To all who put their trust in him
A shield and refuge is the LORD.

For who is God except the LORD?
Besides our God, who is the Rock?

Ah! Well there you go, then. I do appreciate your looking further into it, Logan—that's helpful. I agree, there will never be the perfect Bible translation or psalter. I only hope and pray that more churches will begin making use of the latter.
 

Ryan J. Ross

Puritan Board Freshman
Jeri,
Scottish Metrical is great! But I would suggest getting a handful of psalters. Read the psalm beforehand and study it. Have a translation that is reliable and then look at your psalters and see which one preserves well the words/meaning(s) of the text that is to be sung. It is so important to not only sing the Psalms but to sing with understanding. Gaining familiarity with other psalters is useful for practical reasons if you're not in an EP church (with a standard psalter) because many churches select from a variety of psalters or paraphrases, such as Sing Psalms, Trinity Psalter, 1912, Based on Scottish Psalter, various re-worked paraphrased and based ons, Book of Psalms for Worship (not often from this source), etc. This will also help cut down some of the research time when a certain psalm is used from a different psalter.

As an EP KJV-preferred guy, I love using the Scottish Metrical Psalter with my wife and daughter, but on occasion I use others. Recently I have been a little disappointed that most psalters do not include the Selahs or superscript when it has been deemed part of the text. But, can't win them all!
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Jeri,
Scottish Metrical is great! But I would suggest getting a handful of psalters. Read the psalm beforehand and study it. Have a translation that is reliable and then look at your psalters and see which one preserves well the words/meaning(s) of the text that is to be sung. It is so important to not only sing the Psalms but to sing with understanding. Gaining familiarity with other psalters is useful for practical reasons if you're not in an EP church (with a standard psalter) because many churches select from a variety of psalters or paraphrases, such as Sing Psalms, Trinity Psalter, 1912, Based on Scottish Psalter, various re-worked paraphrased and based ons, Book of Psalms for Worship (not often from this source), etc. This will also help cut down some of the research time when a certain psalm is used from a different psalter.

As an EP KJV-preferred guy, I love using the Scottish Metrical Psalter with my wife and daughter, but on occasion I use others. Recently I have been a little disappointed that most psalters do not include the Selahs or superscript when it has been deemed part of the text. But, can't win them all!

Thanks much- great advice. :)
 
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