Psalmody and Hymnody:

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Joshua

Administrator
Staff member
[moderator tone on] Firstly, let's not allow this thread to get into a defensive, overly-sensitive, mud-slinging, ad hominemeric debate. If you're "tired" of seeing this discussed, don't read the thread. Stay out. If you're "miffed" with someone, please u2u them, as opposed to making it personal in the thread. If you have nothing of critical value to say, or if it's just sarcasm, please refrain from posting. Thanks [moderator tone off]


Back in September of 2004, Patrick said this:
Well, hopefully you all aren't tired of this subject yet. I love to build a substantial unity, especially regarding the worship of God. So maybe we can change the thread a little and start from square one, and turn this into a Reformed Think Tank regarding song in worship. It seems to me that many of the arguments for either side have been dispersed throughout the thread and can be hard to follow. So let's try to peice it all together.

I think of primary importance here is how we build a hermenuetic to establish our covenant songs. It is this hermenuetic which really in the end undergirds our understanding of Paul in Eph and Col. We all admit that God institutes His worship. That is well and good. The non-EP advocates are right in that the book of Psalms did not always exist. There were no Psalms before Moses, at least none that were recorded so to say "the Psalms have always been the songs of God's covenant people" is simply not true, or at least not verifiable. The thing we must keep in mind is that the worship of God developed over time along with redemptive history. And we can only build on what God has revealed to us. It's just like covenant theology. We do not see a specific command to baptize children in the NT, nor a command to forbid it, yet we come to the conclusion with a hermeneutic based on previous revelation in the OT, that children were always included in the covenant before, and we have no indication that this has changed, rather inferential evidence that it remains. But this inferential evidence can only be understood with a correct hermenuetic.

I think we must apply this approach when discussing the issue of song in worship. There are not enough specifics to simply say "this is how it is." We must first build a hermeneutic. We can understand the mind of the apostle's regarding children in the covenant because of the redemptive historical context in which they were raised from the OT, and from what they learned from Christ and the Spirit. So now, let us build a hermenuetic to understand song in worship, so that we may better understand the mind of Paul when Eph. and Col. were written under the inspiration of the Spirit. We have no specific command either way for EP or non-EP unless the hermenuetic we use to interpret Paul is sound. Either way, Paul gives a command regarding song in worship. So we had better pay attention to it. The sins of Uzzah, Aaron's sons, and Uzziah should be burned into our mind when approaching this subject. So then, let us work on a hermenuetic to build a case for covenant song. I will try in a little while to present my hermeneutic case for EP in a bit. If someone could do that for the non-EP advocates that would be greatly appreciated.

And just a couple of side notes that I noticed during the thread so far. Mention has been made of Ian Murray's booklet on hymnody. Though he does give some good ideas to consider he fails to interact with the WCF or the Westminster liturgy. He is certainly right that some Puritans dissented from the EP position, but the Westminster Divines as a whole decided on EP and confessionalized it in the WCF and the liturgy. Murray doesn't take that into account in his historical argument against Psalmody. Now, perhaps he's working on a more comprehensive study of the issue but I thought I would just bring this up so that no one invests too much weight into his arguments yet. And I would also say the same for Bushell and Williamson. They do not address some of the issues raised here on the Board, so in some sense, we are really pioneers on this particular issue in worship.

So, again, if you're tired of the issue for now, then we can pick it up later. I also am strapped for time. But the issue of God's worship has always been an important study for me in my Reforming journey, especially since I was rescued from the sinking sands of charasmania. I'd like to help others like myself get some rocks to build on regarding this subject.
I would like to see this rehashed with the ideal of coming to an agreement, which may not happen, but it would be nice to discuss these things in the realm of Christian brotherhood and unity.

I think we should begin with this particular request of Patrick:
I will try in a little while to present my hermeneutic case for EP in a bit. If someone could do that for the non-EP advocates that would be greatly appreciated.
What do you folks (that is, ones who are interested in being better honed in the subject) think?
 

bened

Puritan Board Freshman
I would love to find links to those who observe psalmody only in their worship so I could hear and utilize such in my own personal worship.

If there are any examples of the words with notes, etc (i.e. sheet music?), I'd give such to our choir director for use in corporate worship.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Josh,

I want to commend you for bringing up this subject again. I know that many people on this board are tired of discussing EP, but I think that as brethren, we must realize that people learn at different paces, and we should not tire of sharpening each other in this area.

May God grant us all wisdom in this area.

Originally posted by joshua
Whether or not we are to sing only the Psalms in our corporate and private worship of God is one question, but whether we´re to sing them at all should not be a question. There is no doubt a command for God´s people to sing the Psalms in worship, both privately and in corporate settings.
This is the first thing to recognize: that if one accepts the regulative principle of worship, then it is in the uninspired hymnist (UH herafter) position to show that God has clearly commanded His people to sing "hymns" in worship. The command to sing Psalms is clear, but even from the UH position, the "command" to sing UH is vague and hazy at best.

So really, we have two things that need to happen:

1) Arguments need to be brought to the table from the UH camp that show from scripture that UH ARE COMMANDED by God, and are to be used in His worship

and

2) Responses from the EP camp refuting these arguments showing how they are not consistent with the regulative principle and that we have no warrant from God to make our own songs.

I'll be glad to help out with this discussion (as much as I can), and maybe my sword can be sharpened as well.

Let's do this one charitably. :pilgrim:
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by bened
I would love to find links to those who observe psalmody only in their worship so I could hear and utilize such in my own personal worship.

If there are any examples of the words with notes, etc (i.e. sheet music?), I'd give such to our choir director for use in corporate worship.
Ben,

I recommend the Book of Psalms for Singing. It is a complete Psalter, translating all 150 Psalms into meter. :up::up:

If you want something free (for now) you can view the Scottish Psalter of 1650 that was approved by the Westminster Assembly for use in public worship.

As John Calvin says:

For what St. Augustine said is true, that one can sing nothing worthy of God save what one has received from Him. Wherefore though we look far and wide we will find no better songs nor songs more suitable to that purpose than the Psalms of David, which the Holy Spirit made and imparted to him. Thus, singing them we may be sure that our words come from God just as if He were to sing in us for His own exaltation.
:sing:
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
What are new songs? Are they not mandated?

Psalm 33:3
Sing to him a new song;play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

Psalm 40:3
He put a new song in my mouth,a song of praise to our God.Many will see and fear,and put their trust in the LORD.

Psalm 96:1
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;sing to the LORD, all the earth!

Psalm 98:1
Oh sing to the LORD a new song,for he has done marvelous things!His right hand and his holy armhave worked salvation for him.

Psalm 144:9
I will sing a new song to you, O God;upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,

Psalm 149:1
Praise the LORD!Sing to the LORD a new song,his praise in the assembly of the godly!

Isaiah 42:10
Sing to the LORD a new song,his praise from the end of the earth,you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it,the coastlands and their inhabitants.

Revelation 5:9
And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scrolland to open its seals,for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for Godfrom every tribe and language and people and nation,

Revelation 14:3
and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

[Edited on 4-4-2006 by jdlongmire]
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Also - Matthew 13:52

And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."

Sorry - I am a non-EP'er - I suppose that the Scripture is my position statement. Sorry if that is not the format desired...

Is there any EP'er that has Scriptural support for no new songs as clearly?


[Edited on 4-4-2006 by jdlongmire]
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Oh, ok - I just try and take the Scripture at face value - not trying to stir up the vitriol - or strain the gnat - did not realize this was an Exclusive Posting session, ciao!
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Well, I had tried to start with what I considered helpful comments and was then corrected and discouraged from participating unless I followed some format of which I had no knowledge.

Now you have responded in a manner that is both sarcastic and, some might say, vitriolic...really, that sort of thing should be reserved for the signature space... :D

Now, please feel free to rebut with scathing wit...
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
BTW - I read the New vs. Brand New thread - it seems a tortuous path to rationalize "old" song by redefining "new" - we all know there is nothing new under the sun, anyway...

So - please tell me I if I have offended, then request that I not post again on this thread and I will happily repent and scoot off - I know how frustrating it is to try and keep a thread constrained.

-JD
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
oops, I see you have! Apologies - and toodles...

Oh, and I cannot resist before I go:

When you say start a "new" thread - do you mean a "renewed" thread - a "brand new" thread - or go post in a "new way" on the old thread? :lol: :sing:

[Edited on 4-4-2006 by jdlongmire]
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
JD's post quoting the psalms is one illustration of what I meant in the beginning (which Joshua quoted) about developing a hermenuetic for song. Both EP and non-EP are reading the psalms at "face value." But there are alot of presuppositions by which even those plain verses are interpreted. The EP would argue that the command to sing a "new song" is actually fulfilled with the singing of that very psalm which contains the command. It's a literary phrase in the psalm used to introduce the new (yet inspired) psalm. The non-EP would argue this is an imperative (or at least an allowance) to compose new tunes. Both are logical possibilities.

So how are you going to decide between the two? Which interpretation is better grounded on biblical presuppositions? Here is where the hermenuetic comes into play. You have to explain why you hold to those presuppositions by which you interpret those "new song" verses in the way you have.

That's my :2cents: to get the thread back on track. Back to the books.....

[Edited on 4-4-2006 by puritansailor]
 

Reformingstudent

Puritan Board Junior
Question:

What if you see that EP is correct but you are a member of a church that doesn't practice it and there aren't any churches around that
do, What than? Would staying in such a church that sings hymns only be a sin? Also would like to know if any here may know of any PCA church that does practice EP.

Thanks.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Originally posted by puritansailor
JD's post quoting the psalms is one illustration of what I meant in the beginning (which Joshua quoted) about developing a hermenuetic for song. Both EP and non-EP are reading the psalms at "face value." But there are alot of presuppositions by which even those plain verses are interpreted. The EP would argue that the command to sing a "new song" is actually fulfilled with the singing of that very psalm which contains the command. It's a literary phrase in the psalm used to introduce the new (yet inspired) psalm. The non-EP would argue this is an imperative (or at least an allowance) to compose new tunes. Both are logical possibilities.

So how are you going to decide between the two? Which interpretation is better grounded on biblical presuppositions? Here is where the hermenuetic comes into play. You have to explain why you hold to those presuppositions by which you interpret those "new song" verses in the way you have.

That's my :2cents: to get the thread back on track. Back to the books.....

[Edited on 4-4-2006 by puritansailor]
Well, at the risk of running us off track again (I really am interested in this subject) take a look at these verses from Revelation:

Revelation 5:9
And they sang a new song...

Revelation 14:3
and they were singing a new song...

That seems to me - in my simple way of thinking - to set precedent for the composition and performance of new songs, outside of the Psalms.

The Isaiah verse is outside the psalms, as well - and the prophecies were written well outside of within the psalm composition period, no?

edited to add - and the answer is "No" - see John's post below for clarification - thank you!

Isaiah 42:10
Sing to the LORD a new song,his praise from the end of the earth,you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.

This verse is directly after a messianic prophecy - it seems to set the temporal expectation of the first coming of Messiah as the time to sing new songs.

Also would appreciate someone pointing me to the hermenuetic for how "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" describes EP.

...seeking to understand...

[Edited on 4-4-2006 by jdlongmire]

[Edited on 4-4-2006 by jdlongmire]
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Just a correction, if I may. Isaiah prophesied during the reigns from Uzziah to Hezekiah. Some of the Psalms were written during or after the exile, which started one or two generations later; e.g., Ps. 137. So with many of the prophets. They lived and prophesied during the Psalm-writing era.

I don't think it makes any difference to what JD is saying, though. If anything, it may strengthen the case he implies.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Thanks, John - very much appreciated - I really hesitated to make the "well after" statement - I thought to go check the timelines for surety, but wanted to capture the thought - knew my brothers would "refine" my error!

:D

-JD
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Reformingstudent
Question:

What if you see that EP is correct but you are a member of a church that doesn't practice it and there aren't any churches around that
do, What than? Would staying in such a church that sings hymns only be a sin? Also would like to know if any here may know of any PCA church that does practice EP.

Thanks.
We've discussed that before. I can't rmember the thread at the moment. But do a search. If you can't find it, then post your question on a new thread, since it is an important question. It just will side track this thread to address it here.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
You have to answer the hermenuetical question though JD :)
Why do you think those verses allow new compositions? To help you answer the question I'll give you a leading question. What is the historical context of those commands? What in the historical context makes you assume they permit new compositions? Or uninspired compositions for that matter? Is there a historical tradition for such music at any point in the OT (or the NT)? Where do you extrapolate the principles to interpret the verses that way, instead of just understanding them to be poetic references to the songs in which they are a part (which EP holds)?

Any EP advocates will also have to answer the same questions as well for this thread. This is what Joshua and I are trying to get at.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Appreciate you "priming the pump" - flying out to Dallas - will give it some thought and see if I can approach the reply hermenuetically - a couple of questions though - when you apply historical context to derive the conclusion - to what level do you prioritize Scriptures at "face value" with the derivatives of church history/tradition?

1:1?

2:1?

Not trying to approach this mathematically, but I think it helps me understand the POVs.

-JD

[Edited on 4-4-2006 by jdlongmire]
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by jdlongmire
Appreciate you "priming the pump" - flying out to Dallas - will give it some thought and see if I can approach the reply hermenuetically - a couple of questions though - when you apply historical context to derive the conclusion - to what level do you prioritize Scriptures at "face value" with the derivatives of church history/tradition?

1:1?

2:1?

Not trying to approach this mathematically, but I think it helps me understand the POVs.

-JD

[Edited on 4-4-2006 by jdlongmire]
The hermenuetic key is that we can only understand how the Word applies to us, after we understand how it applied to the original hearer. The Scriptures were written to specific people at specific times. God was interacting with a particular worldview at the time he revealed himself to men. So in order to understand those verses, we have to, as best as we can, find out what the mindset of the original hearers were, and what they were suppose to learn from God's Word then, and once understanding those principles, then we build from there. Now, in some cases, this isn't difficult because many of our problems are the same as then. But in other areas, this is much more difficult. I think congregational worship is one of those problem areas. We don't have alot to go on, so we have to reconstruct the orignal conditions as best we can before we proceed to the argument of EP vs. non-EP for us today.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
As far as hermeneutic goes, in order for this discussion to stay fairly narrow in its scope, we would have to agree that there is Biblical warrant to believe and practice what has been called the Regulative Principle of Worship.
Matthew 15

8"'This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
9in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"

Having served in the PCA as music lead for almost 12 years, I am VERY familiar with the Regulative Principle (RP) and feel it is a suitable framework to utilize.

The problem begins when we begin to legalistically rationalize away our Christian liberty to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.

18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."

Who are we, you, me, anyone to create a heavy burden where none exists? If dietary and cleanliness restrictions were liberated by Christ - how much more so the expression of worship? There are principles for guidance, (1 Corinthians 10 - 23"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. 24Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor) but they should facilitate the expression of love in liberty - for God AND for neighbor.

Christ said: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The easy yoke and the light burden in humility epitomizes liberty - not legalism or licentiousness, but blessed liberty.

Paul substantiated this liberty:

Romans 14:2-4
2One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

1 Corinthians 10
29...For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

Finally:

John 4:23
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

So - it is with this mind that we should examine Psalmody, Hymnody and Spiritual "Songery"...not by the letter of some man-developed law/doctrine/principle, but the spirit.

It is a "both/and" (liberty) not an "either/or" (legalism) proposition.


Also:
Brothers, please accept this as a passionate plea, not as a spirit of condemnation - just want to make that clear.


-JD

(Gotta go to bed...way past time...:pray2: )

[Edited on 4-5-2006 by jdlongmire]

[Edited on 4-5-2006 by jdlongmire]
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
JD, you quoted:

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
This is precisely one reason why the RPW is so cherished. This is what comes from our hearts; are we supposed to believe that our hearts will then produce a correct way of worshipping God?

Further, the RPW is a defense of liberty; it frees my conscience from the commandments of men. It frees me from the tyranny of those who want to worship God by puppet shows and interpretive dance. It leaves me conscience bound only to His word, and not to any idea (whether pleasing to me or not) devised by men. It is onerous to be bound by the traditions of men; it is not onerous to be bound by the law of God, and it is only in maintaining the exclusive authority of the latter that we strike at the root of the former.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by py3ak
JD, you quoted:

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
This is precisely one reason why the RPW is so cherished. This is what comes from our hearts; are we supposed to believe that our hearts will then produce a correct way of worshipping God?

Further, the RPW is a defense of liberty; it frees my conscience from the commandments of men. It frees me from the tyranny of those who want to worship God by puppet shows and interpretive dance. It leaves me conscience bound only to His word, and not to any idea (whether pleasing to me or not) devised by men. It is onerous to be bound by the traditions of men; it is not onerous to be bound by the law of God, and it is only in maintaining the exclusive authority of the latter that we strike at the root of the former.
:ditto:

JD - you throw out the charge of legalism and slavish devotion to man-made doctrine far too easily against the Brethren. You need to at least appreciate the sincere and arduous exegetical work that has led to the conclusion that the RPW is a Scriptural principle and not a man-made one. If you disagree with the RPW that is fine but it will take more than a couple of paragraphs to substantiate the charge of legalism.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by jdlongmire
The point is that RPW is a wonderful framework, but should not itself become tyranny.
If the RPW is an expression of God saying "Worship me thusly..." then there is never tyranny in obedience. That is what liberty is.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
So do I - when utilized in the context of creativity - not so constricting that we get to the infinite regression of normative EP.

[Edited on 4-5-2006 by jdlongmire]

[Edited on 4-5-2006 by jdlongmire]
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Originally posted by SemperFideles
Originally posted by jdlongmire
The point is that RPW is a wonderful framework, but should not itself become tyranny.
If the RPW is an expression of God saying "Worship me thusly..." then there is never tyranny in obedience. That is what liberty is.
:ditto:
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by joshua
Originally posted by jdlongmire
So do I - when utilized in the context of creativity. . .
Whose creativity? The whole idea behind the RPW is to keep the "creativity" of man from adulterating the worship God has prescribed.
Last time I looked, God was the creator! :p
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by joshua
Originally posted by jdlongmire
So do I - when utilized in the context of creativity. . .
Whose creativity? The whole idea behind the RPW is to keep the "creativity" of man from adulterating the worship God has prescribed.
Precisely so. This verse keeps coming to mind with regard to "creativity":
Judg 17:6 - In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
We have a few "creative" folks in my Church that make worship very uncomfortable for more than a few of us.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Brothers, let's not get too bogged down in the particulars. There is some room for creativity in the RPW. Let's not misrepresent both sides of this issue as well. The RPW regards the required elements of worship, but regarding the circumstances of how those elements are carried out we do have liberty. That is why there is so much diversity even in Reformed history as to how worship is practically carried out. Now let's get back to the hermenuetical issue please.
 
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