OPC DPW III.6 -- the word "frequently"

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Casey, Dec 20, 2008.

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  1. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    OPC BCO:
    How is the word "frequently" to be interpreted?
  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Probably about the same as frequent observance of the Lord's Supper.
  3. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    Frequently certainly doesn’t mean to never or only occasionally singing a Psalm.

    At the very least it should mean the inclusion of a Psalm in every public worship service. Perhaps, it indicates a majority of sung selections in public worship be Psalms. Abundant Psalmody is at least prescribed.

    But, more telling- “Great care must be taken that all the materials of song are in perfect accord with the teaching of Holy Scripture.” -if something is to be in “perfect accord with the teaching of Holy Scripture,” there are many hymns which should never be sung. Only the singing of God’s inspired words can be assured to be in “perfect accord.”

    This would also seem to preclude omitting the imprecations of the Psalms, often glossed over even in so called Psalters. Every verse of every Psalm should at some time be heard on the lips of Christians gathered for public worship. A systematic singing of the whole Psalter is in accord with the teaching of Holy Scripture,” though some Psalms will require more instruction than others to be sung with understanding.
  4. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    So "frequently" can mean:

    1. At least one Psalm in every service (morning and evening?); or,

    2. At least a majority of Psalms in every service?

    Could "frequently" be interpreted to mean "one Psalm a month," like how the frequency of the Lord's Supper is commonly once a month in OP congregations? If not, why not?

    I have a preference myself, but I want to know what the Directory is directing the congregations to do. "Frequently" is such a relative term -- I wish it were given a referent so it would be more clear, such as, "more frequently than hymns," "at least as frequently as hymns," "as frequently as there are public worship services," or whatever.

    Does the "frequently" include paraphrases of Psalms? Like when it says "based on Psalm __"? I wish the Trinity Hymnal had all the Psalms in it, too. I'm glad a new one is in the works to address this.

    I have the feeling that congregations tend to neglect the Psalms in December to get all their "Christmas" hymns in.


    I recognize the wisdom of the Directory in being a directory and not a checklist, not setting quotas, etc. But it seems the Directory's statement can be so relativized as to be meaningless.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2008
  5. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    A perfect time of year to sing Psalm 1-150...
  6. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    At our church it is maybe 20% of the time and that is on average. Many Sundays there are none. This is only if we are the squeaky wheel, and we don't envy that position at all, we love our Pastors and our congregation dearly. We are EP and so we notice how many there are since we don't sing anything else.
  7. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    It's one of those key Presbyterian buzz words with lots of wiggle room. The session needs to make sure the psalms are sung, but how "frequent" is most likely left up to the session.
  8. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    Nowhere in the OP Directory will you find the word "Christmas."

    -----Added 12/20/2008 at 04:07:11 EST-----

    Our practice at SRPC (OPC) in Boise is to use both the 1650 Scottish Metrical Psalter and the Trinity Hymnal. For the past two years, at least two selections at each service (morning and evening) have come from the Scottish Metrical Psalter. The other two have usually been from the TH, though often three or more selections came from the SMP. Every fifth Sunday evening service has been a Psalm service, where we have sung five Psalm selections and the sermon has been from a Psalm. Over most of the past year, the TH selections have been Psalms, for the most part avoiding Psalm paraphrases and hymns “based on” Psalms. Because we use a words only Trinity Bible Society (PDM) Psalter, we interchangeably use about thirty tunes to sing the metrical Psalms. Congregational singing of the Psalms has improved because of familiarity with the tunes to which we occasionally add new ones. As of this coming year, we will go to Psalms only, from the 1650 Psalter or alternative versions, for the evening service. Though we are not officially (by session decision) EP, in practice we essentially are.

    In our services of public worship, our bulletin nor official announcements is there any acknowledgment of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, or Pentecost. Of course, this does not preclude our preaching on those portions of scripture dealing with major events in the life and ministry of Jesus when we come to those as part of our systematic consecutive exposition of the word, or some pastoral concern prompts use of a particular passage out of sequence.

    Yes, “frequency” is one of those fudge words. For us, it means often, systematically and comprehensively. At best, the mention of hymns in the DPW allows a general exception to the clear teaching of the WCF XXI.5,-

    The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.

    The Confession is trumps the DPW in the OP Constitution.

    I’m glad the OPC continues to include both majority and minority reports from its Committee on Song in the Public Worship of God to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth General Assemblies (1946 & 1947) on their web archives of General Assembly papers, neither of which was “adopted;” both were received and recommended for consideration.

    Reports of the Committee on Song in Worship

    As the burden of proof rests with pro-hymnody position, I find the majority (pro-hymn) report, though a good effort, fails to make their case.

    I do believe there is an increase in the use of metrical Psalmody in many OP and PCA congregations.
  9. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for your responses. :handshake:

    I'm not EP and don't want this to turn into an EP argument debate.

    I'm just trying to understand what the Directory is directing.
  10. Glenn Ferrell

    Glenn Ferrell Puritan Board Junior

    My posts above are not intended to provoke debate about EP on this thread. They do illustrate how one OP pastor and one OP congregation implements the “ought” of the DPW regarding the “frequent” use of metrical Psalms in sung praise. The OP Directory must be understood in the light of the Confessional standards, the entire Constitution, and reports previously produced and received by OP GA’s.

    Where OP congregations make only occasional use of Psalms in their sung praise of public worship, they must have access to hymns which meet the additional exhortation of the DPW, “Great care must be taken that all the materials of song are in perfect accord with the teaching of Holy Scripture,” superior or equal to God’s inspired book of Psalms, hymns and songs.

    Only by the systematic singing through the entire Psalter can the elders of a congregation hope to present the comprehensive depth and scope of themes with which God directs us to worship him.

    There should also be a careful examination of the words of non inspired hymns used in public worship. Just because it is in the TH does not mean it is “ in perfect accord with the teaching of Holy Scripture.” Elders are as responsible for the words sung as for those read, preached and prayed.

    With confidence, the words of the Psalms may be offered as indisputably meeting the DPW requirement.

    How long should it take a congregation to sing all one hundred and fifty Psalms? One, two, three, five years, longer?
  11. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I'm not EP, and am for musical instruments etc.. but I could wish some of the sugar coated "walk in the garden alone" type songs were replaced with variety of Psalms, including occasional imprecatory Psalms, even though they don't easily lend themselves to understanding always.

    I remember in New Guinea when I was sitting in on a translation session. It came time for an imprecatory Psalm. The translator read it to the two native Christians, who hadn't yet much of the OT in their language. The people looked shocked, then said "That's not good talk". The translator, and older Reformed Christian man shrugged and just said that since in was in the Bible, it was good talk, whether it felt that way to us or not.
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