Instruments and hymns outside of Worship

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by W.C. Dean, Dec 30, 2019.

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  1. W.C. Dean

    W.C. Dean Puritan Board Freshman

    The questions I am posing here is assuming the one answering does believe the RPW is applied to private, family, and corporate worship and affirms a-capella Exclusive Psalmody.

    I have varying opinions on the board so I'd like to hear those opinions voiced in one place. Outside of worship:

    Is it acceptable to listen to uninspired hymns?

    Is it acceptable to play instruments anytime?

    Thank you.
  2. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    W.C., could you qualify a bit more on playing musical instruments? For those who hold to EP, musical instruments outside of public worship, in and of themselves, can be good and acceptable. But if you’re talking about accompanying the singing of Psalms in family devotions, many would probably have reservations/qualifications about that.

    As for listening to uninspired hymns outside public worship, again those holding to EP will likely have varying reservations/qualifications. I personally have simply lost all taste for them. The Psalms have such superiority in content and in what they do for one... In them I’m hearing the voice of my Shepherd, which isn’t the case in an uninspired song.
  3. W.C. Dean

    W.C. Dean Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with reservations about accompanying family worship. I stated in the post 'outside of worship' instrument playing, and said I believe the RPW applies to family worship. I also have ceased listening to uninspired Christian songs although I'm not sure simply listening is a violation of the second commandment because of worship.
  4. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Right. So as far as playing musical instruments outside of worship, I vote thumbs up and have never heard a biblical case against it.
  5. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    I love the RPW. I believe it forbids instruments and man-made songs in worship. I have come to think that that prohibition applies to family worship as well.

    I also enjoy listening to Bach and Beethoven and Wagner. I quite enjoy John Williams' Star Wars scores as well. I have no musical instruction whatsoever, but I will hire music teachers for my son.

    As for CCM, I just don't care for it. One concern is the content of the lyrics. There's a lot of junk out there. If there's some decent, theologically sound Christian hymn or song, then I see no problem listening to it for edification, as long as it is not meant as worship. In the same way you can enjoy a Christian poem, but you wouldn't say that you're reading the Bible.
  6. smalltown_puritan

    smalltown_puritan Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a great question - and one many who hold to a capella Psalmody wrestle with. Holding to that view myself, I greatly enjoy other music, particularly classical (my undergraduate degree being in Classical Guitar Performance). I would say that being a musician is a valid vocation; and, speaking as one who worked in such a vocation, I can bear witness to the fact that there is a great need for more reformed believers to serve in that field, just as in any other vocation.
  7. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior

    I don't use instruments or hymns in family worship or private. Though I'm not quite sure to say whether RPW applies there anyway.

    Outside of worship, hymns are not wrong or sinful, nor the use of instruments in singing them. I think just like commentaries, confessions and catechisms they have good teaching and suplemental value. It's good to have hymns like Rock of Ages or Sands of Time in memory. They speak for themselves.
  8. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior

    Oh, instruments anytime?

    I've been on a guitar kick lately!

    Listening to hymns?

    My girls listen to Geddy's ad nauseum.

    And I am EP.
  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    If I never listened to hymns where would I get my political satire? ;)
  10. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    I know some who are EP, especially if they come from a background where hymns were connected to worship services, steer clear from them. I suppose I find myself in that boat.

    I don't lay that down as a prohibition for others, but only that my own conscience has a difficult time separating what I once did with hearing them now.

    As for instruments, the prohibition on them is connected to worship and the sacrificial system. My children have all taken piano lessons - and we have an upright in the home; my youngest will be taking guitar lessons having received an electric for his birthday.
  11. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Do you mean the Gettys?
  12. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, them.

    Are they on your list for satirical parody?
  13. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    In Trump alone, our economy's sound ... (I need to work on this one) ;)

    I believe that they wrote a missionary hymn "Facing a task unfinished", which I satirised on behalf of Brexit:

    Facing a Tusk unfinished
    The EU drives us to our knees
    A tyranny that, undiminished
    Rebukes our slothful ease
    We, who rejoice to flee thee
    Renew before Elizabeth's throne
    The solemn pledge to Vote Leave
    And make the UK our own!

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  14. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior


    That song of theirs also happens to be my favorite. It never fails to stir my heart for the work of God abroad.

    I don't agree with every line, but here it is:

    Facing a task unfinished
    that drives us to our knees,
    a need that, undiminished,
    rebukes our slothful ease,
    we who rejoice to know you
    renew before your throne
    the solemn pledge we owe you
    to go and make you known.

    2 Where other lords beside you
    hold their unhindered sway,
    where forces that defied you
    defy you still today,
    with none to heed their crying
    for life and love and light,
    unnumbered souls are dying
    and pass into the night.

    3 We bear the torch that flaming
    fell from the hands of those
    who gave their lives proclaiming
    that Jesus died and rose;
    ours is the same commission,
    the same glad message ours;
    fired by the same ambition,
    to you we yield our pow'rs.

    4 O Father, who sustained them,
    O Spirit, who inspired,
    Savior, whose love constrained them
    to toil with zeal untired,
    from cowardice defend us,
    from lethargy awake!
    Forth on your errands send us
    to labor for your sake.

    Source: Moravian Book of Worship #634

  15. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

  16. RPEphesian

    RPEphesian Puritan Board Junior

  17. Martin

    Martin Puritan Board Freshman

    I have been studying and will say that I find the a capella exclusive psalmody postition to be very persuasive.

    I also have been thinking over for myself the questions asked in the original post.

    To me, I think that if the RPW applies to corporate, family, and private worship, it seems consistent to forbid hymns and musical instruments (the instruments are being used in a worship context I assume) outside of corporate worship.

    Or to put it another way, if it is wrong to sing Be Thou My Vision along with the musical accompaniment during corporate worship, I don't see how I could sing along with it on the radio as soon as I got to my car after worship. Furthermore, if I was for example doing yard work and started singing a hymn, to me that would be worship. If the premise is that God gave us specific songs to sing and the use of instruments in worship passed away with the sacrificial system, I don't see how it could be acceptable to use other songs and to reintroduce instruments in any context, be it corporate, family, or private worship.

    So I have trouble with that but am still looking for the answer as well. I would like to see more responses to help out.
  18. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    Of course one is allowed to listen and sing but just call it what it is....entertainment and not worship in the RPW sense.

    Connected with worship no. Connected to entertainment yes.
  19. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    You are absolutely right about that - if you subscribe to an EP position, you should not introduce them into private or family worship either. I don't think the people posting were considering them in that capacity, however.

    Not every moment of life is private worship. I think people get tripped up on that. Private worship is a special time, not necessarily when I am doing yard-work, but more akin to the "prayer closet" that our Lord speaks of. It is still a set apart time, just as family worship isn't when we are praying before a meal together. In fact, such private worship is called "secret" worship in the Confession of Faith.

    Confession of Faith Chapter 20:
    God is to be worshipped every where in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself; so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God, by his word or providence, calleth thereunto.​

    Now, as I noted earlier, my conscience does not allow me to use hymns in any capacity. However, for other EP folks, they are just theological poems set to music. I would consider myself the weaker brother in such a situation.
  20. Martin

    Martin Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your response. This is interesting to me as I have never thought about private worship in this way. So entering into private worship would be a more structured time of worship? This is a distinction I have not been making or considering.
  21. Henry Hall

    Henry Hall Puritan Board Freshman

    I think the key part of what Elder Rom is saying is "It is still a set apart time." If it is a time set apart, the RPW would apply. If it is just spontaneous, it wouldn't.
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