Looking For A List Of EP Scripture Proofs

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Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Can someone please lay out for me in one place the Scripture texts used to formulate the EP position? Particularly, where it is commanded that the Psalms are to be used in worship.

I have some understanding of the RPW with regards to EP; but, I have not seen where the command itself is that we are to be keeping.

I want to learn more about the topic, but all of the resources I have found are longer than I currently have time to read; therefore, I would like to have a list of the related texts to scan through as time permits.

Thank you very much.
 
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Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Short answer: Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16.

But those aren't immediately obvious without an understanding of the context, for which I'll provide a short answer by Archibald Hall found in "Gospel Worship", though he also was in favor of "scriptural songs" as well. It's also important to have a thorough understanding of the regulative principle. If you don't get that, this probably won't make sense.

II. The next question to be discussed is, What should be the matter of our songs?

The answer is repeated, that we may not mistake it, Eph 5:19; Col 3:16, where we are exhorted to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. These characters seem to be the same with the titles prefixed to the book of Psalms, where some are called, מזמורים, ψαλμοι, psalms; as Psa 3–5, etc.: others תהלים, ιμνοι, hymns; as Psa 145: and others שירים, ωδαι, songs; as Psa 120–134 and many others. If I confess my real ignorance about the characteristic differences of these titles, I need not blush at it. The learned reader may consult Beza, Gomarus, and Davenant, on Col 3:16; Zanchius, Grotius, Hammond, Gill, etc. on Eph 5:19; with the best critics on the words.

I would only beg leave to observe, that whereas the apostle, in his directions about singing, mentions the titles of David’s Psalms, it is highly reasonable to conclude, that it was his intention to give them a sanction, as proper matter for this solemn service. I do not mean that the matter of our praise should be confined to these only; for, it is but reasonable, that every scripture-song should be sung in a meter-version, as short, as simple, and as near the original, as possible. With this view, the church of Scotland has often proposed to enlarge the system of her psalmody; but, by some means or other, has never carried her design into execution.

The following things are offered to manifest the propriety of using David’s Psalms in singing God’s praise in New Testament times.

1. They were originally written in verse. The learned Gomarus, in Davidis lyra, shows, that this was the opinion of the ancients; and demonstrates the truth of it: and the learned labors of Bishop Hare and Dr Grey have made it very plain.

2. They are a very rich collection of gospel-doctrines, and precious promises; a large fund of solid experience; an exhaustless mine of gospel-grace and truth; and an endless variety to suit every case, state, and condition, the church of Christ can be in at any time.

3. In using them we are in no hazard of being misled into wrong apprehensions about divine truths; because they are all given by inspiration of God, and are no less useful than other parts of scripture, for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction.

4. Having the Psalms, among our hands for our daily study, we are furnished with peculiar assistances to sing God’s praise with faith, understanding, and affection; in as much as we are to sing his own word, that we are daily conversant with.

These reasons have the more weight, if we consider the remarkable connection, which the apostle states between the word of Christ dwelling richly in Christians, and their teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, Col 3:16. Now, can we comply with the spirit of this exhortation, with as much certainty and satisfaction, upon any other scheme of praising, as when we use only the word of God for the matter of our song?

It is, surely, more safe for Christians to use the exactest version of the word of Christ, in praising God, than to use any hymn-book of human composition whatever. Let but any man peruse a variety of such performances, and he will soon be convinced they do not agree with one another, and all of them cannot, therefore, agree with the word of Christ: he will see the spirit and temper of the man that drew them up, instead of the uniform Spirit of the living and true God, running through the whole. Being human composures, they must be subject to human infirmities. The sentiments of the author will appear in the performance: and as the best of men see but darkly, and sometimes falsely; their performances, of course, will be imperfect, perhaps also erroneous.

I may say of such performances, that they are, at least unnecessary, and to indulge them is dangerous. I can refer the reader, with great pleasure, to the learned Dr Ridgley’s Body of Divinity for a candid, sensible account of this matter. If he seems to be rather severe, I believe the unprejudiced reader will justify his indignation.

The ingenious and devout Dr Watts, whose praise is in the churches, has published a book, entitled, “The Psalms of David imitated, in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship.” In this imitation, he proposes to gather the meaning of the Psalms, in phrases that belong to the New Testament dispensation. I shall allow his performance all the merit its most sanguine friends can possibly wish; and yet I think Dr Ridgley’s observation is unanswerable: his words are,

<blockquote>
All the arguments that are brought in defense of making these alterations in the Psalms, as they are to be sung by us, will equally hold good, as applicable to the ordinance of reading them; and, it may be, will as much evidence the necessity of altering the phrase, in several other parts thereof, as well as in these—For, it will follow from thence, that if some psalms are not to be sung by a Christian assembly, in the words in which they were at first delivered, and consequently are not to be read by them; because the phrase thereof is not agreeable to the state of the Christian church; and therefore it is to be altered, when applied to our present use; the same may be said concerning other parts of scripture; and then the word of God, as it was at first given to us, is no more to be read, than to be sung by us.
</blockquote>

I shall dismiss this point with the following observations, that will explain and vindicate our practice in using the Psalms of David, while we sing the praises of God.

1. How Jewish soever some of the Psalms may be; yet they treated of the state of the church of God, though veiled with ceremonies. Now, we may meditate with pleasure, while we sing, on the truths contained under these shadows, and on our superior happiness, to whom it is allowed to see the clearer light of the day-spring that has visited us. And by comparing the shadow and the substance together, we may understand the subject more fully.

2. Where sacrifices are mentioned, the sacrifice of Christ is the antitype, 1Co 5:7.

3. In some of the Psalms, the glory of Jewish national assemblies, in Jerusalem and on mount Zion, is set forth in bold and lively terms. This has always been, with the greatest reason, considered as applicable to New Testament churches, and a just description of their beauty.

4. Some Psalms contain histories of things done to and for the Jewish church: and surely we are bound to bless and admire the love, grace, and power of God in these instances; and hereby we are taught to consider what God, most merciful, most holy, and jealous, has done for the redemption of his church, and what he will do to accomplish her salvation from all sin and sorrow. See Psa 136.

5. Where we find predictions of things that are to come; we should consider them either as now accomplished to us, and give God the honor of his faithfulness, or as yet to be performed in some future time, and express our hope in the word of God, that will not fall to the ground.

6. Some of the Psalms are penitential; and in singing them, we are seasonably called to be affected with a sense of the vileness, treachery, and baseness of our hearts and natures.

7. As for these Psalms which contain denunciations of divine wrath, destruction, and curses upon the enemies of God and his church, we are to consider—that these expressions were dictated by the infallible Spirit of God—that the objects of them were foreseen to be irreconcilable enemies of Christ and his church—that these who sang them only applaud the equity of the doom, which God has justly pronounced upon such offenders—and, that they are to be sung with a full persuasion of the event, as a certain, awful, and just display of the glory and tremendous justice of Jehovah. I am far from approving an uncharitable spirit, a malignant temper, or ill-natured wishes: I know they are not consistent with, they are a flat contradiction to the spirit of the gospel. But there is a false charity, as well as a true one; a sinful clemency, as well as a just one. Saul would have spared Agag, whom Samuel hewed to pieces before the Lord, 1Sa 15:9, 33; and an heavy doom was pronounced upon Ahab, for sparing Benhadad, a man whom God had appointed to utter destruction, 1Ki 20:42. Therefore, when we keep to the words and meaning of the holy scriptures, without maliciously applying them, out of our own heads, against particular persons and parties, we are safe in using the sacred and inspired passages, either in prayer or praise. I add, that to decline using them, out of a pretended charitable fear, is rather our sin, than our duty: for, it is to think ourselves wiser than the God of wisdom, and to make ourselves more merciful than the Father of compassions, that delighteth in mercy, and is abundant in goodness.

The important thing to note is that all three terms (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) are used directly as descriptions of various types of psalms found in the Book of Psalms, so the connection is immediately apparent. So much so that it seems to me that the burden of proof lies with those desiring to show that they don't refer to the Book of Psalms.
 
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Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks for that. I've only skimmed, will read in full later.

My understanding is that EP is always talked about as the commandment having come from the OT though.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Start here:
https://heidelblog.net/2017/03/resources-for-recovering-psalmody/

Then here (at page 5 in the pdf, p. 253 in the journal)):
http://www.cpjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Winzer-NeedhamReviewf.pdf

Review: Nick Needham, ‘Westminster and worship: psalms, hymns, and musical instruments,’ In The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century, 2, ed. J. Ligon Duncan (Rossshire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005). 540 pages. ISBN 978-1-857-92878-5. $37.99. Reviewed by Matthew Winzer, Grace Presbyterian Church (Australian Free Church), Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia.

A good collection of Scripture contexts contained therein.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
These works should be studied; they are excellent resources on laying out the whole topic.

The Puritans on Exclusive Psalmody – Edited by C. Matthew McMahon
This is the first time in church history that you can read the four most comprehensive books on exclusive psalmody written by the Puritans in one handy volume. Compiled in this eBook is a 60% savings than buying each individual volume.

The True Psalmody – by Various Reformed Ministers
Do you worship the Living God in a manner He deems acceptable? Or is it according to men’s inventions?

Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance – by John Cotton (1585-1662)
There are a handful of puritan works on singing Psalms. This work by John Cotton (a New England Pilgrim) was quoted repeated by individual Puritans in England on this most important subject. It is one of the best treatments of psalmody now in print. For the student of worship this is an important biblical work on the subject of Christ’s worship.

Singing of Psalms the Duty of Christians – by Thomas Ford (1598–1674)
All Westminster Puritans believed in Psalm singing, but there are few works by the Westminster Divines written about this subject (other than the Confession and Directory for Public and Private worship). This work is one of the most famous and important. Psalm singing is almost lost today and it is commanded in Scripture.

Gospel Music: or the Singing of David’s Psalms by Nathaniel Holmes (or Homes) D.D. (1599–1678)
This wonderful work by Nathaniel Holmes is a beginning or introductory teaching on how to sing praise to God by the Psalms – God’s inspired songbook for the church. A biblical treatment not to be missed!

A Gospel-Ordinance Concerning the Singing of Scripture Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs – by Cuthbert Sydenham (1622–1654)
Psalm singing is a Gospel command but many churches don’t practice it. Sydenham explains why this is a command, and how we are to praise God in this central aspect of the Christian life – worshipping God correctly.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Okay, if books are being brought into this, is there one (1) book that can be considered THE book to get about the Psalms in worship and EP?

Anyone read the one edited by Joel Beeke?
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Okay, if books are being brought into this, is there one (1) book that can be considered THE book to get about the Psalms in worship and EP?

Anyone read the one edited by Joel Beeke?
I haven't read it, but Songs of Zion by Michael Bushell is often cited as the best contemporary book on the subject.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Bushell would interact with the few modern arguments; before that the 'standard' would be The True Psalmody, free online, produced by a joint committee of Reformed and United Presbyterians. It is shorter than Bushell but the newest edition of Bushell spends a lot of time on the RPW (there are 3 or 4 distinctly different editions of Bushell).
https://archive.org/stream/truepsalmodyorbi00phil#page/n7/mode/2up
I haven't read it, but Songs of Zion by Michael Bushell is often cited as the best contemporary book on the subject.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks everyone. I am just starting to work through the reasons why the Psalms are better than, and to be preferred over, hymns for corporate and private worship. I'm hoping to really crystallize my own view here.

It is going to take me longer to work through the 'command' aspect, as that isn't as readily discernible to my understanding.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks everyone. I am just starting to work through the reasons why the Psalms are better than, and to be preferred over, hymns for corporate and private worship. I'm hoping to really crystallize my own view here.

It is going to take me longer to work through the 'command' aspect, as that isn't as readily discernible to my understanding.
One difficulty in answering your original question, asking for proof texts for the EP position, is that it implies that there are texts that we can go to that forbid the use of uninspired song. That's a tall order, indeed, and I don't know if you can find definite, explicit proof texts for that.

Rather, your approach should be to begin with the regulative principle of worship: What God wants us to do in worship, he prescribes for us. We are not to add to it, or take away from it.

With this perspective in mind, the question is, "What has God required us to sing?" The emphatic answer of the Scriptures is, "The Psalms!" You won't find a command for us to compose uninspired songs and sing them in worship.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I just re-read your original post and saw that my comment ignored some important parts of it. Sorry about that.

After Christ institutes the Lord's Supper (an act of worship), we read "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives" (Matthew 26:30). Note that hymnos is often used to refer to the Psalms

Gill on Matthew 26:30:
And when they had sung an hymn: The "Hallell", which the Jews were obliged to sing on the night of the passover; for the passover, they say, was , "bound to an hymn". This "Hallell", or song of praise, consisted of six Psalms, the 113th, 114th, 115th, 116th, 117th, and 118th : now this they did not sing all at once, but in parts. Just before the drinking of the second cup and eating of the lamb, they sung the first part of it, which contained the 113th and 114th Psalms; and on mixing the fourth and last cup, they completed the "Hallell", by singing the rest of the Psalms, beginning with the 115th Psalm, and ending with the 118th; and said over it, what they call the "blessing of the song", which was Psalm 145:10, &c., and they might, if they would, mix a fifth cup, but that they were not obliged to, and say over it the "great Hallell", or "hymn", which was the 136th Psalm. Now the last part of the "Hallell", Christ deferred to the close of his supper; there being many things in it pertinent to him, and proper on this occasion, particularly Psalm 115:1, and the Jews themselves say, that , "the sorrows of the Messiah" are contained in this part: that this is the hymn which Christ and his disciples sung, may be rather thought, than that it was one of his own composing; since not only he, but all the disciples sung it, and therefore must be what they were acquainted with; and since Christ in most things conformed to the rites and usages of the Jewish nation; and he did not rise up from table and go away, until this concluding circumstance was over; though it was allowed to finish the "Hallell", or hymn, in any place they pleased, even though it was not the place where the feast was kept however, as soon as it was over, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

We read this of Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:25): "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." Here we see the singing of praises being used as a means of grace, alongside prayer. Note: the word for "sang praises" is hymnoun, a variation of hymnos.

Gill on Acts 16:25:
and sang praises unto God: or "sang an hymn to God", very likely one of David's psalms, or hymns: for the book of Psalms is a book, of hymns, and several of the psalms are particularly called hymns; this showed not only that they were cheerful, notwithstanding the stripes that were laid upon them, and though their feet were made fast in the stocks, and they were in the innermost prison, in a most loathsome and uncomfortable condition; and though they might be in expectation of greater punishment, and of death itself; but also that they were thankful and glorified God, who had counted them worthy to suffer for his name's sake.

Take these alongside Logan's comment on Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
I just re-read your original post and saw that my comment ignored some important parts of it. Sorry about that.

After Christ institutes the Lord's Supper (an act of worship), we read "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives" (Matthew 26:30). Note that hymnos is often used to refer to the Psalms

Gill on Matthew 26:30:


We read this of Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:25): "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." Here we see the singing of praises being used as a means of grace, alongside prayer. Note: the word for "sang praises" is hymnoun, a variation of hymnos.

Gill on Acts 16:25:


Take these alongside Logan's comment on Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3.

Hm okay. Thanks for that.

For Col 3: Does the word dwelling in us richly make sense if he then means psalms, uninspired hymns, and songs? Or does the indwelling word have to imply that the three are literally the words of Christ?
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hm okay. Thanks for that.

For Col 3: Does the word dwelling in us richly make sense if he then means psalms, uninspired hymns, and songs? Or does the indwelling word have to imply that the three are literally the words of Christ?
This is the nub of the issue, as far as I can make out after following several threads on this topic. Being confessional, the Regulative Principle is a given. The question becomes, then: does "Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" mean three different classes of inspired Psalms, found only in the Book of Psalms; does it mean inspired Psalms from the Psalter and other songs found in Scripture, or does it mean "Inspired Psalms and uninspired hymns and uninspired spiritual songs." If it means the third thing, which seems to be the surface interpretation, then the RPW requires the judicious use of uninspired hymnody.
There is no reason why if you hold to the third definition you cannot prefer Psalms as more excellent than other songs, that you cannot sing more of them than the other--and it's a shame that Psalms aren't more used in Hymn-singing churches.
Soooo, this, like head coverings or paedo vs credo baptism, can run into long and contentious threads where the last few diehards on either side minutely hash out whether "psallo" means to pluck strings or not.
Whichever side you land on ultimately, remember that you are to sing with grace in your heart to the Lord, and for the edification of others.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
This is the nub of the issue, as far as I can make out after following several threads on this topic. Being confessional, the Regulative Principle is a given. The question becomes, then: does "Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" mean three different classes of inspired Psalms, found only in the Book of Psalms; does it mean inspired Psalms from the Psalter and other songs found in Scripture, or does it mean "Inspired Psalms and uninspired hymns and uninspired spiritual songs." If it means the third thing, which seems to be the surface interpretation, then the RPW requires the judicious use of uninspired hymnody.
There is no reason why if you hold to the third definition you cannot prefer Psalms as more excellent than other songs, that you cannot sing more of them than the other--and it's a shame that Psalms aren't more used in Hymn-singing churches.
Soooo, this, like head coverings or paedo vs credo baptism, can run into long and contentious threads where the last few diehards on either side minutely hash out whether "psallo" means to pluck strings or not.
Whichever side you land on ultimately, remember that you are to sing with grace in your heart to the Lord, and for the edification of others.
Thank you for your words.
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
One thing that has struck me after several days of looking into some of these things, is that even though I don't currently believe that the Psalter is the only song-book allowed for the Church, I am convinced it ought to be used as such anyway. There seems to be so many positives to singing the Psalter.

I am thankful to have come across psalm singing, considering I did not grow up with it.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
One of the most compelling revelations is that found in Psalm 22:22: " I will declare Thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise (halal) Thee"-

quoted in Hebrews 2:12, "Saying, 'I will declare Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will sing praise (hymneo) unto Thee.'" The context of both Psalm and epistle is Christ's victory in accomplishing the Father's will, and what He won.

Christ is among us, speaking and praising, when we gather- his word is the hymn, and we must sing with him, not he with us! The verse in Hebrews is another example of how "hymneos" in the Greek NT is used to refer to the inspired praise of God.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Mr. Cross,

One of the difficulties of this question is that there is not a clear, explicit command to sing in worship in the New Testament Scriptures. Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 come close, but they don't specifically say that the command is to be obeyed in worship; it's implied, in my opinion, but it isn't explicit.

There are four distinct conclusions that people have come to from studying the relevant passages:
1. Exclusive Psalmody -- This position, in my opinion, does justice to all the passages in question.
2. Uninspired songs and hymns -- I really don't see where people get the idea that we should sing uninspired songs. The Bible never tells us to sing anything that isn't inspired, but frequently urges us to sing songs that are.
3. Scripture songs -- This position is better than option 2, but it fraught with the difficulties of both proving that certain passages are songs, and proving that we are commanded to sing those songs.
4. No singing -- If you want an explicit and indisputable command to sing from the New Testament Scriptures, this is where you'll wind up. This was Zwingli's position. Ken Talbot is the only person I've ever heard embrace this view other than Zwingli.
 

koenig

Puritan Board Freshman
Singing the Songs of Jesus is a book by an author who is EP, though it does not take the strategy of showing that we are commanded to sing only psalms. Its purpose, rather, is to show that the entire psalter is suitable praise for Christians today, and that it is superior at that task. Despite talking very little about EP as a command, it is probably the book that has gotten me the closest to that position by pointing out the benefits of psalmody that you will never have by singing a manmade hymn.
 
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