Psalm Singing and the Early Church

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Tyrese, Jul 17, 2016.

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  1. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    Is there evidence to suggest that the early Church sang only from the book of Psalms? I did a search to see if this was a topic that has been addressed already but couldn't find anything. Thanks friends!
     
  2. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Michael Bushell surveys the evidence in his book "Songs of Zion". Of course as an exclusive psalmodist you may think him biased in his conclusions, but it seems pretty clear at least that there is a distinct lack of quality evidence demonstrating widespread singing of anything other than psalms (and perhaps select inspired New Testament hymns) in the orthodox church of the first few centuries.
     
  3. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Tyrese, it is known that the early Church sang Psalms, and there is no evidence to suggest that they sang anything other than Psalms (i.e. uninspired hymns). People have searched for evidence of early church uninspired hymns but have come up lacking!
     
  4. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It depends on what is meant by "early church," but if it includes the ante-Nicene, Nicene, and post-Nicene fathers then I do not think the claim of exclusivity can be substantiated. There is a basis, however, for showing that as far as the church acted according to what we call the regulative principle of worship it was decisively and predominantly in the direction of singing Psalms to the exclusion of merely human compositions. That will be a weighty consideration for those who follow the regulative principle as distinguished from those who look for some kind of early church consensus.
     
  5. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    If the claim of exclusivity can't be substantiated in those periods, can any claim of true inclusivity of uninspired hymns, before the ninth century or so, be substantiated? I have not seen conclusive evidence of that, but would be interested in any sources that indicate otherwise. This is a study I found informative: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/33160/33160-h/33160-h.htm
     
  6. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    It depends what principle is being invoked. Those who are working with the idea of "consent of the fathers" are going to find substantiation for their human traditions in a variety of ways. Part of the problem is that the "consent" idea has been an impetus behind many studies in early church history. This idea was at work behind the early 19th century collections and editions of the fathers. It still lingers in the T&T Clark collection, which is the collection which was reprinted last century by Eerdmans. Opposition to this impetus is the reason Jean Daille's Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers was translated into English. This work deserves to be more widely known and utilised, especially by Protestant historians.

    When we read of a "practice" in the early church there are a number of issues we have to work through before we may conclude there is a correlation with our own "practice;" and often when we look at primary sources and testimony in the light of historical factors we will see that something entirely different was going on.
     
  7. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for that, it's helpful. I will look into both the Collection and the Treatise. The complexity of getting to what was really going on seems to be the result of "smoke and mirrors" thrown over history. I will continue to pray that God will so work that his church will praise and give thanks as we ought.
     
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