Exclusive Psalmody

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by C. Matthew McMahon, Feb 13, 2005.

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  1. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    I agree fully. However, Gods word is without error; hence, singing the Psalms is safer than singing stuff, if you know what I mean?:book2:
  2. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

    Thanks for satisfying my curiosity and indulging me in that little "hymn detour".

    ...and now, back to the regularly scheduled program, already in progress...

    Thanks for posting the link to the Exclusive Psalmody articles. I look forward to reading them.
  3. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I've been EP for years now but have been rethinking the issues, and perhaps will change to a more Dominant Psalmody, to be more consistent with reformed history, but I'm not ready to give in just yet. The majority opinion of the Westminster Assembly was clearly exclusive psalmody, but apparently the same debate going on back then was the same today, how to interpret "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" in Eph. and Col. Some of the puritans in particular favored keeping some of the non-psalm scripture "songs" and some of the oldest hymns of the church. Even Calvin, and the Dutch tradition following him, allowed the Apostle's Creed, Decalogue, and Lord's Prayer to be sung and included them in their Psalters. Clearly, the psalms were their chief delight for song, but that didn't expressely forbid the singing of other songs, even though in practice they never did it. The reformed branch to consistently stick with the WCF on the issue were the Scottish Presbyterians who maintained the practice for several hundred years.
  4. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    For me, it is not an issue of trying to figuire out what is right in Gods eyes, i.e. differentiating between hymns vs psalms or what exactyly is a spiritual song, but how we can minimize sinning. By singing psalms exclusively, we totally minimize the chances. This to me is prudent and profitable for the body.
  5. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree with you there about minimizing sin. That is one reason why I love the simplicity of Puritan worship. There is little room for sin explicitly, though there could be sin in the form of pride, being proud of our simple worship. But that in itself would not disqualify the Puritan way since any version of worship in reformed circles requires humility and love to God to be successful.
  6. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Unless of course, the RPW requires that we sing hymns, in which case we would be sinning by singing only psalms.
  7. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    I am hearing you. What exactly is a hymn, biblically speaking? I assume this would also include spiritual songs.......Who has determined what a hymn or spiritual song is?

    Does the Greek word humnos imply anything other than spiritual songs?

    ~Note to Fred; how do I use Greek fonts. Are they in this database?




    [Edited on 2-15-2005 by Scott Bushey]
  8. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    A hymn is a song. It is a larger category than the psalms. I have argued this in the Exclusive Psalmody threads; the Greek simply does not bear up under the hymns=psalms interpretation.

    When we try to find the meaning of any words, we look to contemporary (relative to the word itself, e.g. Biblical times) usage. Hymn never means a psalm in any Greek literature.

    [Edited on 2/15/2005 by fredtgreco]
  9. Authorised

    Authorised Puritan Board Freshman

    How does Psalmody keep one from sin if its a metrical forced ryhme paraphrase of a translation ?

    Does that honour God any more than Isaac Watts? Enough slander about Isaac Watts. He began to write hymns because he, among others, wanted the Psalter to include more direct references to Christ. It has nothing to do with how "Jewish" it was. Ridiculous.

    Again, the arguments employed by EPers are the same ones employed by the KJVO advocates.

    Sorry for poisoning the well, but its true.

    [Edited on 15-2-2005 by Authorised]
  10. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    No one has slandered Isaac Watts. Perhaps you have not read his writings which I cited earlier in the thread. He is quite specific about his motivation for paraphrasing the Psalms and it is directly attributable to the Jewish-ness of the Psalter which he finds objectionable.

    It is, however, slanderous to equate advocacy of Exclusive Psalmody to advocacy of the King James Version-Only position. The two positions have nothing in common.

    Exclusive Psalmody was the practice of the Christian Church in the early centuries and in the most Reformed eras of church history. It is Biblically required as an extension of the Regulative Principle of Worship. There is no warrant to sing uninspired hymns whereas we are commanded to sing Psalms. It is also Confessionally-required for those who adhere to the WCF. God has given us a praise book in the middle of the Bible.

    In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "Wherever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church. With its recovery will come unexpected power."

    [Edited on 15-2-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  11. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian


    The Psalter includes three kinds of poetic musical compositions. In the Septuagint, the version in use in Paul's day, Psalms are identified as "psalms," "hymns" and "songs" are a combination thereof. In 67 cases, the word "psalm" is used, in six cases the word "hymn" is used, and in 35 instances the word "song" is used. (Source: The Psalms in Worship, ed. J. McNaughter, p. 139; The Songs of Zion, Michael Bushell, p. 85-86 -- Bushell also notes that Josephus "repeatedly alludes to the Psalms as 'hymns'" and cites Philo and Clement of Alexandria likewise, among others.) Ergo, in approved Greek Biblical usage, hymn = psalm.

    Moreover, the word "spiritual" as used in Eph. 5.19 and Col. 3.16, I believe, is properly applied to all three terms. It means "inspired by the Holy Spirit," not just religious man-made song. This can only apply to Scripture and in the context clearly is mean to refer to the Psalter.

    I don't claim to be an expert in Greek (far from it), but I have studied this issue well enough to know that Paul is referring to the Psalter and nothing else when he commands Christians to sing God's praise.

    There is no command by Paul to invent uninspired songs. Rather, as John Calvin said in the preface to the Marot/Beza Psalter, "Moreover, that which St. Augustine has said is true, that no one is able to sing things worthy of God except that which he has received from him." This is only true of God's inspired word, and His Psalter is given to us for this very purpose.
  12. Authorised

    Authorised Puritan Board Freshman

    The Psalter is not inspired. It is translated Hebrew poetry put into English verse by means of editing the meaning to fit both metre and ryhme. Inspired is a far cry from the truth.
  13. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Your Psalter may not be inspired, but mine most assuredly is. Translation of poetic text into another language in the form of metre does not make it any less inspired than a translation of some other portion of Scripture. In some cases, the metrical translation from the version I use is better than a TR translation. The Psalter is just as much the inspired word of God as any other faithful Biblical translation.

    [Edited on 15-2-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  14. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    If I may...

    Perhaps we could reserve this thread for discussing specifics of Matt's articles, and save the EP debate for a new (or resurrected) thread?
  15. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    I really don't want to get into this again, because there really is never any fruit from this discussion (I've had it in several places). But you can see my position in the previous exclusive psalmody thread. I am VERY familiar with the three kinds of psalms argument Bushnell (and others) uses, and I find it lacking. It is very tenuous at best and relies on an uninspired translation (the LXX) for the force of its argument. I also believe (having almost 20 years of Attic Greek) that the restriction of the word "hymn" to a psalm, a use that is all but completely unknown in Greek culture, is to completely ignore how a Biblically contemporary Greek would hear the word "hymn." And as I have said, I believe that both Colossians and Ephesians were written primarily to a Gentile audience.

    Having said that, if you want to have the last word, go ahead.
  16. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Well, Fred, we have indeed covered these issues previously and so we can just agree to disagree. :handshake:

    If I may, I will quote once more because this quote references several emminent Puritans, including John Owen, who interpret Eph. and Col. as I do. I'll let them have the last word on my behalf.

    [Edited on 15-2-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  17. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    :eek: I can't claim to be a greek scholar by any means (though I know the language of the NT gentiles was Koine not Attic) but let me say (1) the EP position isnt that the term hymn is exclusive to psalms but that it definiately includes the psalms, b/c the verses are ambiguous and we have no authorization for uninspired hymns that is why we infer the Col & Eph passages refer to the Psalms of David only (2) there is excellent grounds for believing "hymns" are includes of Psalms and that eph&col indeed refers to them: the LXX though not inspired is a trust worthy translation which no doubt influenced the minds of 1st century Christians, the best Reformed theologians and comentators readily refer to it, and it provides many examples of hymn meaning Psalm in greek literature. Another example of hymn meaning Psalm is Mat 26:30 where "hymn" most certainly means Ps 112-118

  18. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Again, I'm not going to reenter the lists on this, but Koine is not a different language than Attic. Koine is really a subset of Attic. My point was that the use of the word hymnos in Attic (contemporary) Greek gives us evidence of a semantic domain that is thousand-fold more numerous than the Bible alone. And my point was that there is not one single use of hymnos as a psalm in any other Greek writing. So a Greek would heard "hymn, a song" not "hymn, a psalm" when he read Paul's letter.
  19. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Aw, too bad the debate if off. I had a few obervations for Andrew, which he may have missed.

    I don't want to see this going into areas where there's a lot of heat but little light. The way of peace is best. We are not in a position as yet to say what music for worship ought to consist of. We have too much baggage to purge first, I think. So I'd like to see the discussion go that way before we delve into what is proper for worship. Until then, we should all be willing to be subject one to another. So a good place to start would be on the subject of warrant, or Biblical necessity, what it includes as to the worship of God.

    Please allow room for Fred. He is looked up to to put in his word, but he is in no position at this time to carry on a full debate. Though I am not versed in Greek, I take the same position as he does as to hymns. But I agree with him also that we have covered these things before, and are merely saying them again. We need to get more basic before we can go here again.
  20. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    I don't really want to get back into this debate either but let's be clear on this one point, I dont really undersand what you're getting at here. What do you mean by "contemporary", my understanding was that Attic is the now dead dialect of the ancient Athenians, it was corrupted into Koine and was pretty much unintelligible to a Koine speaker. So what relavence is it?

    I wouldnt expect there to be many instances of hymn refering to the Jewish Psalms in a language used by many people of who the Jews were a negligible minority. If you mean the word psalmos in general, not particularly the BoP, I find that hard to believe as the 2 words seem synonymous.

    The Churches of Ephesus and Colossae were large cities consisting of many congregations. It is likely there were many Jewish and Proselyte converts among them, these would have been already familiar with the LXX. Even the Greek & Asian converts would have begun to read the scriptures in the LXX and perhaps even Mathew and Mark which refer to psalms with the word hymns, as well. You say they heard song, but what songs do you think they thought that meant?
  21. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Andrew, as much as I agree with you about EP we must be honest about our history. Calvin did not hold to EP. Nor did the continental reformed traditions. They held to a dominant psalmody view. Calvin permitted singing the Apostle's Creed and other scripture portions (songs or Mary, Simeon, 10 Comandments, Lord's Prayer). The Dutch followed Calvins lead in this and included a couple additional hymns in theri psalters. See the Dort liturgy and compendium. Though for all practical purposes, they were EP, since those hymns were probably sung very rarely, in principle they were not EP. Its the same with some of the Puritans. The only group to consistently hold to EP were the Scots ( the American Puritans held it it for a short time but even they didn't hold out that long because they embraced Watts hymns rather quickly). I say this not because I wish to squelch your zeal for the psalms. This debate in the church will not be solved by history but by the teaching of Scripture. That's where the struggle is, exegesis. So, I would put the emphasis there. History is nice to decorate an argument, but the meat must come from Scripture. And historically, EP does not hold up that well (though certainly a Dominant Psalmody would hold up better). The descriptions of the early church thus far, could be read either way, especially since we have so little data about their practice. Just some things to consider.
  22. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    I have not claimed that Calvin held to EP. His quote which I cited does imply that only God's Word is suitable to sing in corporate worship and his practice, as you described, bears that out. Even the OPC minority report allows for the singing of other portions of God's Word besides the Psalms. There is no room in Calvin's theology for the singing of uninspired words in corporate worship as is being argued for by some in this thread. However, the Westminster Assembly, which was arguably the best collection of divines since Acts 15, requires the singing of psalms (and nothing else) as an element of worship, and it also prepared the Psalter which I sing from today. In many aspects of worship -- such as holidays, for example -- the Continental Reformers were looser in their application of the RPW than the British Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians. But assuredly the singing of Psalms was understood by the early Church and the most Reformed churches since to be required by Paul in Ephesians and Colossians.

    [Edited on 15-2-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  23. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Again, I won't respond to the rest to save us both time, since I believe that each of our positions is put forth in detail in the Exclusive Psalmody Thread here:


    But I agree with you that we should be clear on that one point. By contemporary, I mean contemporaneous with the writing of the Biblical text. Attic Greek was the contemporaneous, scholarly Greek of the day. It differs very little from Koine, save the fact that Koine Greek uses a smaller vocabulary, simpler sentence structure and less of the complexities of Greek grammer (for instance, whereas Attic or Classical Greek uses the optative mood frequently, Koine only does for the "God forbid" wish constructions). Simply said, for one who knows Classical/Attic Greek, Koine is a snap to learn. For one who knows Koine, Attic/Classical is a bit more challenging, but not that hard to pick up.

    The reason that Classical/Attic Greek is relevant is because it would have been completely intelligible to the Greek speakers of the NT era (in fact, the Greek of the Early Church Fathers is closer to Attic than Koine) and it comprises about 99% of contemporary literature. My point was that if one desire to know the semantic domain of the word hymnos, it is far better to understand it in the context of a culture steeped in Homer, Hesiod and Pindar (many Greeks could recite huge portions from memory) than in a strained argument from the LXX. The word "hymn" is not an unusual word or hapaxlegomena; it was an exceedingly common word, found throughout the Greek plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Eurpides and Aristophanes, which were the Broadway/Hollywood of the day. It is also used frequently by Plato, Aristotle and the orators (Demosthenes, etc) and it NEVER (not once) means psalm. That is the reason that the word "psalmos" existed. Psalmos was not unknown to the Greeks - it is used by Eurpides (Ion, Rhesus) and Sophocles (Hercules).

    So while the point about the relationship of hymnos to psalm is debatable, the relationship of Classical/Attic to Koine is not. Pick up any respected scholar on this point, including Machen.
  24. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    That's helpful.
  25. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    Fred, when you say hymn never = psalm you are saying "psalmos" in general not the Psalms of David in particular, correct?

    I thought psalmos and hymnos were basically synonymous. Whats the difference? I believe psalmos denotes accompaniment of a stringed intrument?

    BTW, my very limited knowledge about the ancient languages comes from Machen, I seem to remember reading in his study guide on the NT that with the spread of Hellenistic culture Attic was severely corrupted into Koine and the difference is much greater than you make it to be, but appearently not.

    [Edited on 15-2-2005 by Peter]
  26. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    Some other observations
    1. You shouldn't marginalize the Hebrew influence in Eph and Col. Ephesus and Colossae were big Churches and likely had Jewish and Proselyte congregations so part of the intended audience was Hebrew. Paul was Jewish so the author was Hebrew, which I think actually has more impact on the intended meaning of the words then the people he was writing to.
    2. The word hymnos was frequently used for the Psalms of the Bible, besides the LXX:
    3. I believe pagan classical Greek cultural influence on Greek Christians (semanticly) would have been less than the religious influence of the Hellenized Jews. Doubtfully many common Greeks would know the words of Classical Greek poets, those that could recite them were professional bards or story tellers. On the otherhand the LXX would have been read and expounded in the Church every Sabbath, as it was in the Synagouge.
    4. Hymn means song. It doesn't mean every type of song besides the Psalms of David. The EP position doesn't attempt to prove psalms, hymns, spiritual songs means the Psalms from the words themselves but rests on the fact all these terms can mean or at least included in their denotation or extension are the Psalms of David. Then it is proved else where.
  27. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Peter and Andrew:

    I am even less versed in Greek than you are, in that I know none at all. But there are a few things common to even the English that I would suggest have been missed in your points.

    First, even today we find in the common usage of words that there are basically two uses. As Young points out in his article, "Don't ask me about time." He means that if we use the word in way that takes its meaning for granted, such as, "It is time to start the meeting," then we are all one as to the meaning of it. But if we are going to niggle about the meaning of the word 'time' we will fall into endless debate, and only confuse the matter.

    So also we find with the modern use of the words 'hymn' and 'psalm'. They are used interchangeably, and can even mean each other. But at no time is there a confusion of the two, as if they are the same thing. This is taken for granted in the use of them. This is not a recent occurance use of the word. Fred has shown that this use of the word already existed in the times before the Apostles and early Church fathers.

    What I am implying is this: the argument goes that 'hymn' and 'spiritual song' at least mean 'psalm', whatever else they may mean; this is indubitable. We cannot with authority say that they mean 'hymn' and 'spiritual song' apart from meaning 'psalm' or referring to the Psalms. Therefore we can only be sure of the command to sing Psalms, and can not find a clear command to sing hymns and spiritual songs, even though they are specifically mentioned and commanded. Do I have this argument right? I think so.

    The problem is this: what if the words 'hymn' and 'spiritual song' do in fact mean ' hymn' and 'spiritual song'? If they do, then the EPers will have misrepresented the Word of God. They will, in fact, have broken the very regulation which they are keen to uphold, and which they use to uphold their views. What if 'hymn' means hymn? It has been shown that this use of the word is not any more uncommon to people in those times than now. It also seems that the words are used so as to take for granted their meanings. In such a case we are to follow the rules that Fred has careful lined out for us.

    So the argument stated above does not satisfy what is referred to as Biblical necessity, first of all, but also, it assumes the consequent in its argumentation. But my point is that it misplaces given assumptions.

    Secondly, no one is arguing for the abandonment of the Psalter. Adding songs that are doctrinally correct, and Biblically based does not exclude the Psalter from the book of praise. This argument assumes that when a song is sung in worship, if it not a Psalm, then it is an abandonment of the Psalter. This is not true, and cannot be sustained.

    Thirdly, why would this regulation be required only of the singing of praise, and not of prayers and preachings? Why are the people held to such confinement, but those commissioned with the very Word of Christ are quite free to add contemporary issues, instances, examples, and admonishments to their sermons and prayers?

    Do you not know that I am on trial to be put out of the church for opposing the use of the pulpit to inculcate Christian Reconstructionism instead of the gospel? You will find absolutely no Biblical necessity for the imposition of man's doctrines such as these for the office of minister of the Word. Yet most seem shocked that I would oppose this, as plain an error as it is. And this is not some splinter church, but the OPC. These are churches that claim to hold to the RPW. And I do not have great confidence that Presbytery will find in my favour. This kind of thing is going on all around us, such abuse of the office and disrespect of the Word, and we are worried about Exclusive Psalmody from parishioners' book of praise? I find this totally unfit.

    I use this only by way of example, juxtaposing these to show that the RPW may only be a cover for our views. If we were adamant about the RPW, I assure you we would hardly mention the use of the Psalter, for "there are bigger things afoot", as Doyle would have said. There is the illegal introduction of other aberrant teachings, finding their way in by the back door, but yet championed by those commissioned to fidelity to the Word of God. They have introduced these teachings contrary to the rightful use of the channels incorporated by the church for such things. They have popularized their views apart from the official Church. This is a gross sin against the Church.

    Lastly, we who advocate a wider use of the word 'hymn' are not suggesting that we incorporate a loose regulation for corporate singing. Songs that have been penned by those granted such talents have been used in the Church throughout the ages. One of my favourite hymns' origins cannot be found out because it dates back to such ancient times, namely, Be Thou My Vision. Also, Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken" are more reminiscent of Augustine's Confessions, even though it is technically taken from a Psalm. If it is held that the Psalms were inspired, it cannot be refuted that there are other songs and hymns in the Bible equally inspired. But whatever the case, each song accepted for corporate worship must be carefully studied by the elders for its content and for its music, whether it is fitting for public worship according to God's Word. So we are not abandoning the RPW in not advocating EP.

    It can also not be upheld that the Bible does not enjoin the use of songs in singing praises to God for the things He has done, making mention of the things He has done. And He has done great things for us as well, for which He should be praised.

    The only reference that I can find regarding the exclusive use of the Psalms of David is in Chronicles, where Hezekiah commands it in the restoration of worship. It is clear that this is still some years prior to the Exile to Babylon. If this text is used to preclude the singing of any other songs, then it would follow that no more were added to the Psalter after Hezekiah gave that command. But in fact we find that numerous Psalms were added, being called Post-Exilic Psalms, or Exile Psalms. So this command cannot be taken to mean that the Church was never again to add to the songs for worship. It is clear that Hezekiah had in mind that the people were to be confined to the Psalms for that time, since they had polluted their worship with all kinds of unwarranted and unfaithful additions. This is clearly in keeping with those of us who advocate the free singing of praises to God in the use of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.

    Our differences are mainly a question of whether John Newton singing Amazing Grace is indeed praise to God for the incredible circumstances of his life leading to this song of worshipful praise. Is it acceptable praise to God? And may the beauty and plain meaning so many of us share in the verses of this song be our fitting praise to God as well? Is it our hearts that sing this praise in adoration of our great God and Saviour, or are we in love with the music? I am of the opinion that one can be confined to the Psalms and be no nearer to actual praise of God than one who sings what his heart is impelled in praise to sing to God if it is not one of the Psalms.

    And after having read the Westminster Confession of Faith on the matter, I do not think that I stand counter to it.

    [Edited on 15-2-2005 by JohnV]
  28. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    Please take this the right way - I hear what you are saying about the psalms. But I'm going to let this drop. I just completely disagree, and have not been persuaded one iota by the "definitive" or "heavyweight" arguments/books for Exclusive Psalmody. I also realize that my position is contrary to the Confession, so I have registered my exception.

    The words hymnos and psalmos are not synonyms. Psalmos has a technical meaning that restricts it basically to psalter songs. It is not even a "Greek" word - it is a transliteration of the Hebrew that was done because of Greeks' interaction with Jews. Hymnos is a Greek word with a rich and well attested tradition. It appears in literature, political documents, etc. It never (unless someone can point it out for me), never means a song from the psalter in any other place than in the NT, including the Ephesians and Colossians passages in question (I think the only other such usage is the passage regarding Jesus singing a hymn, where it is also inconclusive).

    I'll let that lie there, because I know I can't convince you on this issue. And you won't convince me either.
  29. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian


    Much of the debate on this issue does indeed hinge on some knowledge of Greek, and that puts some of us at a disadvantage. In my own case, as one who is not versed in Greek either, it comes down to a question of trust and an understanding of what Paul is saying to the Ephesians and Colossians in the light of the rest of Scripture.

    I have shown myself how Josephus, Philo and Clement of Alexandria all used the word "hymn" when they were referring indisputedly to the Psalms. There is an interchange of these words from the earliest days of the Church. However, having said that, it the Holy Spirit who identified the classification of the three types of poetic musical compositions found in the Psalter. Whatever the distinctions between the three words, they exist because the Holy Spirit made the distinction. All three, however, are found in the Psalter.

    This is not how I would word the argument, and it does not capture what I am trying to advocate. I'm not entirely sure what this paragraph means so I will skip over it.

    Clearly, one side or the other of this debate is misrepresenting what Paul is saying and thus out of accord with the RPW. I advocate the position that "spiritual" means "inspired by the Holy Spirit" and applies to all three terms, and that all three terms refer to the Psalms found in the Psalter and to nothing else.

    I would argue that the mistaken assumptions in this debate lie with the side that assumes Paul's command to sing "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" means that we are to sing from the Psalter and invent a hymnal as well.

    Perhaps you are referring to my quote by Bonhoeffer about the abandonment of the Psalter. I am not claiming that every person or church which rejects EP is automatically abandoning the Psalter. But in my experience, rejection of the EP does in fact lead to a de-emphasis on the Psalms in worship. At the very least, if one interprets Paul's command to refer to psalms plus two categories of uninspired musical compositions, then we ought to find at least 33% of the compositions used in corporate worship coming from the Psalter. I would argue that this level of Psalmody is highly unusual in Reformed churches that reject the EP in most cases. The fact is, it is a temptation common to man to supplant the word of God with the traditions of men. The tunes and lyrics of the modern age are more appealing to the senses to most people, then the Psalms of David. And that is too bad. But when the Psalms are held in high regard, both by those who hold to and reject the EP, then musical worship is more Biblical and God-centered. I happen to know, for example, that Mike Bushell's church often uses two Psalms to one uninspired hymn. That's unusual, I think, and commendable to the extent that they do not hold to the EP. I hope they will go further and become EP, and that they will be blessed thereby.

    This is a reasonable question and it is well answered in psalmody literature that I have put forth and recommended in the previous EP thread. Suffice to say, we are given a model of both preaching and praying in Scripture, but we are given specific command to sing the Psalms alone to God's praise. It is God who authorizes and ordains what is acceptable to Him in worship; uninspired hymns are "strange fire" that lack the warrant of God.

    John, I am deeply sorry for your troubles in the OPC and pray for you often. In light of your circumstances I can see why you think this is a minor and overblown issue. But it is a critical issue to others who are concerned with what God requires in worship. The RPW indeed has greater application than EP and those other aspects are also important, but the issue in this thread is EP, and that's what we are talking about now.

    As I said, the OPC and other denominations have many, many problems in the area of worship that need attention. I consider this (EP) to be one of many, and a major one at that.

    There are many good hymns in church history. But that is beside the point. The issue at hand is whether God's Word justifies the use of uninspired hymns or not. Since I argue that such hymns lack Biblical warrant, I would respectfully argue that rejection of EP is out of accord with the RPW (which is, after all, a Second Commandment issue). The Second Commandment is what this is all about.

    The Psalter is God's provision for us to praise Him. It is sufficient and meet for that purpose. There is no need to look elsewhere to the uninspired compositions of men to satisfy the need and requirement to sing God's praise.

    This begs the question. Paul's command refers only the Psalms, and many other places in the NT (the Hallel sung by Christ, James' admonition to sing Psalms, etc.), and the OT refer to the Psalms alone as being sung to God's praise, not to mention the 150 Psalms that sit in the middle of the Bible quite conspicuously.

    The thrust of your argument here shifts the discussion from Biblical warrant to sing a particular composition to the inward heart of the singer. I fully grant that many Psalm-singers may not be singing God's praise as they are called to because their heart is not in it, and likewise, many who sing uninspired compositions, though they are acting contrary to God's word, many have sincerity of heart that God alone sees. But, while acknowledging this, it does not lessen our duty to sing God's praise in the manner which he has ordained. The ideal is to sing the Psalms with grace in the heart.

    The WCF certainly does not give any credence to sing something besides Psalms in worship. Historically, that was the intent of the Assembly (they prepared a Psalter not a hymnal) and grammatically, they carefully chose the word psalms and left it at that. Hence, with all due respect, your position is in fact out of accord with the WCF. Fred, with commendable honesty, has registered his exception to the Confession at this point, and in the case of the OPC, the minority report stands as a faithful witness to what the Scriptures and the WCF require.
  30. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Good answers, Andrew. I'll answer tomorrow. I'm a bit busy tonight. Its a pleasure discussing these things with you. Thanks for helping think through this.
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