Exclusive Psalmody: Give us our Sabbath back?

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by BrianBowman, Oct 16, 2005.

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  1. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked


    I've been pondering Exlusive Pslamody for several weeks now, as well as dicussing it with some good Reformed friends in my local PCA (for what it's worth, our PCA congregation is _very far_ from EP at this point in time).

    Here are some of my thoughts and I would appreciate comments, prayers, admonishments, etc.

    1) I have come to believe that the Psalms form the foundation for much meditation and prayer in our lives as believers. The are inspired prayers, prophesies, meditiations, poems, etc. that are integral to the _entire_ Bible.

    e.g. _all_ of Psalm 119

    2) My mind and heart is virtually bankrupt of the Psalms. I have less than 30 total verses memorized and often the latest "Praise Song" or sadly "Old Rock'n Roll Song" is rolling around in my head instead of even these verses - much less than the total of 2577 verses in the Psalms.

    Psalm 19:7-14

    3) Even more sadly, the Lord's day does not seem to be the "rest" that God designed it to be. If I'm playing in the Praise Band at church (every other month) I feel "worn out" for the remainder of the day. Not to mention that the playing itself keeps me from focusing fully on "any truth" found in the songs we do.

    Psalms 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

    Psalms 38:3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

    Psalms 55:6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

    Psalms 94:13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.

    Psalms 95:11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest

    Psalms 116:7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

    4) Should not the effects of our worship on the Lords Day (Sabbath) carry over for the remaining 6 days of the week? It seems that Exclusive Psalmody provides the ideal Biblical avenue for this:

    e.g. Psalms 119:54 "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage".

    5) We should pray the Word the God, reflecting back to our Father what He teaches us. The Psalms are ideal for this.

    Psalms 5:2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

    Psalms 32:6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

    Psalms 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

    Psalms 119:76 Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.

    Psalms 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

    6) Are we wasting our lives by following modern trends that contradict both Scripture and the true heritate of God's redeemed people?

    Psalms 90:12-14 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. 13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. 14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

    [Edited on 10-17-2005 by BrianBowman]
  2. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    There is a reason for your being worn out. I don't believe Choirs or special music are called for in our worship. It probably violates the RPW. They also take away from our focus on the Holy.
  3. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked

    Thanks Randy! This is second time in the past 2 months or so you've "spoken a word in season" to me (the first time being in the tool shed).
  4. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Is it not possible that all these things that you propose can be done with the inclusion of Biblical hymns as well? I mean, does this necessarily point to Exclusive Psalmody?

    Just asking. I support your notions.
  5. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I am growing much more closer than before to this.

    Keep the fight Joshy
  6. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked

    Not sure yet John. My current thinking is that many (most?) Reformed Churches have neglected the richness & depth of the Psalms for so long now that the only "way back" is to go E.P. Then there is also the RPW.

    [Edited on 10-16-2005 by BrianBowman]
  7. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I must admit that I don't like calling Godly Hymns uninspired. I would rather say that they are not God breathed. God breathed and inspired are two different things.
  8. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

  9. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    I think inspiriation and God-breathed are the same thing, in our context.

    God doesn't positively inspire falsehoods, for example, does He?

    [Edited on 10-16-2005 by WrittenFromUtopia]
  10. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Not to pick at things, but it doesn't necessarily follow that neglect of the Psalms is only answered by exclusive Psalmody.

    You know the RPW says that we are not to add nor take away from what God commanded. It states more diametrically that whatever God has not commanded it not allowed. But you have to take these two in compliment with each other, not opposing each other. It is only questionably true that God does not specifically command hymns. Whichever side of the debate you are on, the arguments tend to centre on secondary things, and cannot pin down authoritative propositons that demand the conclusion of EP. It must remain a matter of policy, not doctrine, or be in danger of being a breaking of itself.

    The more we rely on a stack of arguments, the more weaker the position. There are a lot of individual arguments, each one leading to the same conclusion; and then there is the stack of arguments that are required to lead to one conclusion: the latter is shaky ground at best.

    I would say that neglect of the Psalms is a spiritual fault, one which is at the heart of other neglects as well. I agree that people sing too many feel-good songs, singing to their own praise rather than God's. I get that feeling when the congregation demands upbeat tempo, more songs, different instruments, and so on. The are so disgruntled that they miss the richness of what they have. And that richness is in the Psalms, to be sure. But they've stopped singing the Psalms, not because hymns were included into worship, I believe, but because they stopped singing the Psalms. Including hymns does not mean stopping the singing of Psalms.

    As it has been argued that the word "hymn" means "Psalm" in the NT texts, so it can also be argued that the word "psalm" can mean "hymn in the NT texts.
  11. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior


    Correct me if I am wrong but it appears that you are elevating the RPW and especially EP to a level that goes beyond where it should be. I hope that's not the case. EP is way down the list of issues for the church. Though the Psalms are important to reflect on, so is the whole scope of Scripture.

    BTW, if being in the Praise Band is becoming a hinderance, why not quit or take a beak from it?
  12. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Just let me sound off a little and bare with me. When they call the Hymns of our past forefathers uninspired I just cringe. I made a comment on the board that there is a difference between God Breathed and inspired and that they do not mean the same thing. I believe many of the old Hymns are inspired by God's word, even though they are not God Breathed as the scriptures are. To claim the old Hymns are uninspired makes them sound like they are Nonglorifying to God and in the same class as secular radio. This is stupid. There are many hymns that glorify God when we sing the truth in them. They reflect the orthodox theology of the Psalms and Scriptures. But when I hear some of the songs we allow to be sung in church today I just want to sing something that is sure. So I lean toward the Psalms in those situations.
  13. New wine skin

    New wine skin Puritan Board Freshman

    Canon 15. No others shall sing in the Church, save only the canonical singers, who go up into the ambo and sing from a book.

    from council of Laodicea 367 AD

    I was taught in History that Arius having been banished to Yugoslav, sung hymns to preserve his heritical teachings. In response the church restricted/banned singing per the canon above.

    interesting info that relates to the topic
  14. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    That is why there are denominationally approved songbooks. But it has grown lax as has our translations of the scripture. i.e. the NIV.
  15. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    When you say the hymns are "Ĺ“inspired," I immediately thought you meant inspired in the same sense that the scriptures are inspired (by the Holy Ghost).

    Of course the hymns are inspired by the bible, or at least should be. The question (at least in the EP debate) is are they inspired in the same sense as the psalms.
  16. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked

    Thanks Wayne,

    Please don't _read too much_ into my comments at this point and don't suppose I'm elevating the Psalms above any other Scripture. The Preacher much preach the "whole counsel of God" yea and amen! I'm talking about what we sing/recite. Everyday is a chance for the Christian to gain ground in eternal realities. We know that God inspired the Psalms, and that we can eternally profit from them. I'm simply beginning to question the Hymns and especially the P&W stuff. We only have so many days on this Earth, why not spent them meditiating on _exactly_ what we know God has inspired for us.

    Certainly, taking a break from Praise Band would cut down on the time/energy factor required on the Lord's Day, but it would not address what I've just written.

    [Edited on 10-17-2005 by BrianBowman]
  17. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Do you want your head handed to you?:lol: Nothing is inspired like the Scriptures this side of heaven. Even Peter said we have a more sure word in the scriptures than the audible voice of God.


    (2Pe 1:16) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    (2Pe 1:17) For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

    (2Pe 1:18) And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

    (2Pe 1:19) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

    (2Pe 1:20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

    (2Pe 1:21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    I would say that the good Hymns are just as inspired as some of the best preaching is. And it is acceptable worship to God. God hears it and has inspired it by his truth and word.

    [Edited on 10-17-2005 by puritancovenanter]
  18. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, I agree with Wayne, that EP is down the list of important things. And I like to sound off a bit too. Its putting your thoughts out there for interaction, and that's what this Board is all about.

    For myself, since it is usually a regulation upon the congregaton's response, not upon the preaching of the Word, I see it as not pulling a lot of weight. I just don't see why a man can stand on the pulpit and preach about things like the FH, or FV, or any recent theory, and the denominations aren't jumping up and down over the way this flagrantly snubs the RPW. The elders, both teaching and ruling, are supposed to be representing Christ, so the RPW applies a hundred times more to them. On the other hand, members only need to make a credible profession of faith, not be expert in all doctrine. Their faith can be judged by the confessions, but they cannot be excommucated for less than 100% compliance. So how can you place upon them that only the singing of psalms is allowed, if wrong notions within during worship are not necessarily expunged too? It just doesn't make sense to me.
  19. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked


    For what it's worth - for now E.P. is something that I'm contemplating in my own mind and seeking commentary for here on PB. I don't expect our local PCA to become E.P.. Because I've vowed to "study the peace and purity" of the Church, I'll not cause division over this either.
  20. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm not sure, but I don't believe that FV is even an issue in my church (RPCNA). I agree 100% with you that the doctrine of justification is more important than exclusive psalmody. But my church is agreed on both issues; so if we happen to attack departures from the RPW, EP, etc. (like our position paper on worship a year or two ago), and attack departures from the Protestant doctrine of justification (my pastor, David Reese, wrote one of the first papers against Norman Shepherd since his book "The Call of Grace," and wrote articles addressing the subject in the RP Witness a few months ago), what's the complaint?

    The simplicity of worship offered by the regulative principle, and most notably unaccompanied, congregational exclusive psalmody, may be what helps to Sabbath observance. If all you have is a precentor leading the singing by giving the pitch and waving their hand, everyone participates equally in the worship of God; no one is "worked" harder than another (except the minister).

    That having been said, while there are a number of practical benefits to exclusive psalmody that may provide supporting arguments, the real basis of the position rests upon the regulative principle of worship, and the fact that the Psalms, and only the Psalms, have been instituted by God to be the hymnbook of His Church to the end of the age.

    Read the Word... :book2:

    Pray the Word... :pray2: (Our Father, which art in heaven...)

    Sing the Word! :sing:
  21. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Just practically (for me) if I had been singing the psalms exclusively over and against Fanny Crosby all these years, I think I would have been a better Christian man for it. Practically speaking, the Word alone, and God's patterned thoughts in that Word are the thoughts I desire to think after Him. It definitely raises my own rest in Him each Lord's day and I'm excited to sing the Psalms knowing full well that every word, phrase and idea will reinforce my knowledge of His mind.
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I am in most agreement with you Matt. But I do love to sing "And Can It Be' with 'Amazing Love' to God. It definitly reveals His glorious love for His people.
  23. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    There is nothing more humbling and aweinspiring than singing psalms that speak of God's wrath against sinners.
  24. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I grew up in a Psalm-singing church. We had the 150 Psalms with eleven gezangen (Song of Simeon, of Mary, etc. ) My grandfather fought against the inclusion of hymns, but it happened all the same. Now my mother says that I remind her of him, in the way I present issues. Though we added hymns, they added to the richness, for we never ceased singing the Psalms. But I do recall that the older people kept a clear distinction between hymn and Psalm, which at the time I could not figure out beyond than that the latter was from the Psalms alone.

    There is enough in my heritage for me to appreciate sentiments like yours, Matt. I can feel your sense of urgency about it too. The idea of going back is like going back to square one; and I know of a few churches that have done that. Without being able to work out all the details, at least this much we can all be certain of, so that's where we begin: EP.

    I'm all for that, if that's what it takes. I see music as one of the weakest links in worship too. But I see different things, I guess. In the church I now attend they sing the Psalms and a few hymns. As much as I really miss the old favourite hymns, its a matter of denominational unity, and is out of bounds for now. I just have to respect that. ( And that's a denomination that's never heard of the RPW. ) People will ask me how I feel about it, and I'll tell them I miss the old hymns very much, but am sure to keep it at that. They love those old Genevan Psalms, and I can understand how that is so. In another milieu, such as Presbyterian, where they have no uniformity, where some sister churches have electric bands and ones nearby sing only the Psalms, I can truly appreciate the desire for EP. In a denomination adamant to stand its ground, I can see it too.

    But Brian says, I think rightly, that EP's basis stands on the RPW. And that has to be shown me yet. What I've seen is EP standing for the RPW, so far, not on it; there's a huge difference. And I can see it being an issue every bit like those we're struggling with in theological categories, being propounded on wrong principles. If it becomes a doctrinal matter, it invites these criticisms. Not out of combativeness or tradition or partisanship, but purely as to Biblical propriety and soundness.
  25. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    I believe we may sing anything from scripture. Like the decalogue for instance. After all David sang songs from the law.

    Psalms 119:54
    "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage".

    Why stop at the Psalms ?

    My main problem with EP has always been the E. :bigsmile:

    Still studying the RPW though. Incidentally, why do RPW people affirm EP in corporate worship, but will listen to any other kind of music in their day to day lives ? ? The more I study it, if RPW is true, then there is no division between daily life and corporate worship. That distinction is artificial since we are to be offering up ourselves continually as living sacrifices. So do we offer up ourselves the way Cain did or the way Abel did ? ?

    [Edited on 10-18-2005 by Saiph]
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