Psalmody and Worship

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FrielWatcher

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is exclusive psalmody necessary for correct worship? I grew up with the hymns and still love hymnody - a lot stuff published after 1970 I am not a fan of mostly because the new tunes aren't written in hymn form, and they are weak in music structure. And the theology is usually weak - God loves you and we can do better type stuff. But aside from that, tell me about the necessity of psalmody?

Thanks.
 

ModernPuritan?

Puritan Board Freshman
well, youll get many beilefs on the subject. Im convinced that for anyone who beileves in Sola Scriptura- one must do EP(Exclusive Psalmnody). Largely for the reason, that With SS, Scripture must be interpreted with in scripture- hence Psalms Hymns, and Spiritual Songs should be interpreted within the context of scripture- which leads directly to Psalms. as IF memeory serves me, the terms Psalms, Hymns, and SPiritual songs are all used as labels in the book of psalms..

but again- youll here many opinions- do a Puritan board search for Exclusive Psalmnody youll find hours of reading
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
It's also a matter of the Regulative Principle of Worship. We are only to worship God in the manner that He instructs us to worship Him. We are never to invent ways.

With that in mind, when we read the command in Scripture to sing "Psalms Hymns, and Spiritual Songs", we are regulated by God to sing that and only that.

Nowhere does God authorize us to construct or sing songs outside of the Psalms.
 

FrielWatcher

Puritan Board Sophomore
It's also a matter of the Regulative Principle of Worship. We are only to worship God in the manner that He instructs us to worship Him. We are never to invent ways.

With that in mind, when we read the command in Scripture to sing "Psalms Hymns, and Spiritual Songs", we are regulated by God to sing that and only that.

Nowhere does God authorize us to construct or sing songs outside of the Psalms.
Thank you for that.

:) I understand obedience and glory to God and why we should be in line with the commands of God. Is not "A Mighty Fortress" God-honoring and exalting?

I understand that the psalms cover everything. I don't know, it seems a bit legalistic and that when proper God-exalting hymns are sung by faith to honor the creator God, would it be a foul stench in His nose? Please help me.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
:) I understand obedience and glory to God and why we should be in line with the commands of God. Is not "A Mighty Fortress" God-honoring and exalting?
Man can't decide what brings honor to God, we must follow God's directions to bring Him honor.

The very act of choosing a hymn written by man rather than a Psalm written by God, thereby setting up man's composition in the same place as God's, brings glory to man and not God.

I understand that the psalms cover everything. I don't know, it seems a bit legalistic and that when proper God-exalting hymns are sung by faith to honor the creator God, would it be a foul stench in His nose? Please help me.
Legalism is one of two things...
  • Adding man-made commands to God's
  • Believing that works themselves help to save us
But following a command that God gives us is certainly not legalism.
 

FrielWatcher

Puritan Board Sophomore
I can see someone wants to see an ol' tyme school-yard fight. "Sit back as we have the Pennsylvania Psalmodists versus the Minnesota Hymnodists. It looks like it'll be a good as the Psalmodists have an unbeaten record of 12-0 this season. But the Hymnodists are packing a powerful punch with their 55-yard kicker! Its gonna be huge, its gonna be rough, right here, on Friday Night Debate, y'all!"

Matthew "without a name", can you elaborate on your position?
 

matt01

Puritan Board Senior
Matthew "without a name", can you elaborate on your position?
Not really. It seemed the thread was directed more for the pro-EP crowd, but since you asked...I agree with those who say that we need to worship God, in the way that He has commanded. I do not see a command or idea of exclusive psalmody in Scripture.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
Not really. It seemed the thread was directed more for the pro-EP crowd, but since you asked...I agree with those who say that we need to worship God, in the way that He has commanded. I do not see a command or idea of exclusive psalmody in Scripture.
Commanded to sing Psalms...

Ps 98:5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

Ps 105:2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
Let me also clarify that i would never leave a church because it didn't adhere to exclusive psalmody.

I believe there are only about 3 valid reasons for leaving a church:
Not rightly preaching Scripture, not rightly administering the sacraments, not rightly administering discipline.
 

matt01

Puritan Board Senior
Not really. It seemed the thread was directed more for the pro-EP crowd, but since you asked...I agree with those who say that we need to worship God, in the way that He has commanded. I do not see a command or idea of exclusive psalmody in Scripture.
Commanded to sing Psalms...

Ps 98:5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

Ps 105:2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

Yes, I agree. We are also commanded to sing songs and hymns...

Eph. 5:19 - Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Col. 3:16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
Not really. It seemed the thread was directed more for the pro-EP crowd, but since you asked...I agree with those who say that we need to worship God, in the way that He has commanded. I do not see a command or idea of exclusive psalmody in Scripture.
Commanded to sing Psalms...

Ps 98:5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

Ps 105:2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

Yes, I agree. We are also commanded to sing songs and hymns...

Eph. 5:19 - Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Col. 3:16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
But those are references to different titles in the Book of Psalms. They are different kinds of Psalms.
 

dcomin

Psalm Singa
Here's a helpful summary of the main arguments from Exclusive Psalmody FAQ

Exclusive Psalmody FAQ
Or
Ten Common Objections to Exclusive Psalmody Answered
Copyright 1998 First Presbyterian Church Rowlett


[From The True Psalmody, Anthology of Presbyterian & Reformed Literature, volume 4, 1991, Naphali Press. While the following was first published in the middle of the nineteenth century, it is still very relevant to the subject.]

The following summary answers to arguments for the use of hymns, and to objections to the use of the Psalms in worship, are taken from a condensed summary on the subject of Psalmody annexed to Rev. R. J. Dodd’s Reply to Morton.

It is objected –

1. ‘That the singing of uninspired composition, in divine worship, is not forbidden in the word of God.’

Answer. Neither are we forbidden to observe seven sacraments. In determining whether or not this or that particular service should be made a part of God’s worship, the absence of divine appointment, amounts, in all cases, to a prohibition.

2. ‘That good men have composed hymns of human composure.’

Answer. (1.) The best of men are liable to do things which will dishonor God, and injure the church. (2.) There are many good men who would not dare, either to compose a song to be sung in divine worship, or to offer to God a song composed by man.

3. ‘That those who use human psalmody, are more numerous than those who use only the book of Psalms in singing God’s praises.’

Answer. (1.) It was not always so; and the time may yet come, when it will cease to be so. (2.) The multitude are not always – nor have they hitherto commonly been right, in matters of faith, and religious practice.

4. ‘That we are allowed to compose our own prayers, and, by parity of reason, ought to be allowed to compose our own songs of praise.’

Answer. (1.) Right or wrong, it is a matter of fact, that most worshippers neither do nor can compose their own songs of praise. (2.) God has given us, in the Bible, a book of Psalms, but no book of Prayers; and promised to the church a Spirit of prayer, but not a Spirit of psalmody. (3.) In prayer we express our own wants; in praise we declare God’s glory. If we can frame a form of words, suitable for the former purpose, it by no means follows that we are equally competent to compose a form of words for the latter purpose. (4.) The ordinances of prayer and praise differ in this, that in the former the thoughts suggest the words; and we should therefore use the words which they do suggest; whereas, in the latter the words are designed to suggest the thoughts, and therefore we should use words, if such we can obtain, which can suggest none but appropriate thoughts. (5.) Our wants are always changing; and therefore, our prayers should vary: but the glory of God is ever the same; and therefore the same collection of songs will serve for the expression of his praise, from age to age.

5. ‘That there is, in the New Testament, authority for singing songs composed by men.’ First: we are referred to the fact that Christ and his disciples sung a hymn, Matt. 26:50.

Answer. – (1.) Let it be proved that the hymn sung by our Savior and the disciples was not one or more of the Psalms of David. It is supposed by the best commentators to have been the great hallel, consisting of the Psalms from the 113th to the 118th inclusive. (2.) Our Savior was better qualified, and had a better right to compose hymns than Dr. Watts, John Wesley, Philip Doddridge, etc. Second: It is argued that Paul enjoins the use of uninspired psalmody when he says, Col. 3:16, `Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs; singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.’ Some argue from the first clause of the verse, `Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;’ explaining the phrase, `the word of Christ,’ to mean either the whole Bible, or the New Testament; and alleging that the apostle enjoins the use of songs drawn from the whole word of God, or from the New Testament in particular. Answer. – (1.) Let it be proved that this expression means either the whole Bible, or the New Testament, and not simply, the principle of the gospel. (2.) Let it be proved that the Apostle enjoins upon the Church to compose songs, drawing the matter of them from what he denominates `the word of Christ.’

Others reason from the use of the three terms, `psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs’ in the latter clause of the verse. Answer. – (1.) No good reason can be assigned, why any one of the psalms of inspiration might not, in reference to different aspects under which it may be viewed, be denominated a `psalm, hymn, and spiritual song.’ Such a use of language is not uncommon. God says, Ex. 34:7, `forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.’ (2.) If these three terms designate three distinct kinds of devotional poetry, let it be proved that the Book of Psalms does not comprise songs of these three different kinds. (3.) The Jews applied the terms psalms, hymns, and songs, indiscriminately to the Book of Psalms. – See Josephus, Philo, etc.; and the same may have been done by Paul and the primitive Christians. (4.) In the Septuagint, which was the translation of the Old Testament in use in the days of Paul, some of the psalms are, in their titles, designated psalmos – a psalm; others, ode – a song; and others, alleluia; which last is a word borrowed from the Hebrew, and when used as a noun in the Greek language, is equivalent to hymnos – a hymn. Why may we not suppose the Apostle has allusion, in this verse, to these three terms used in the Septuagint version, as titles of different psalms?

Third: it is inferred from 1 Cor. 14:26 that the Corinthians brought to their assemblies psalms composed by themselves, under a supernatural impulse of the Spirit, and of course not contained in the book of Psalms. Answer. – Let it be proved that the Psalms, by the unseasonable utterance of which they disturbed their assemblies, were composed by themselves under an impulse of the Spirit, and not selected from the Book of Psalms.

6. ‘That the Book of Psalms is hard to understand.’

Answer. – (1.) If there are some passages in the Psalms hard to understand, so are there in the other scriptures, 2 Pet. 3:16. (2.) It is no harder to understand the psalms when we sing them than when we read them. (3.) The more we use them, the better will we understand them. (4.) We have a better opportunity of understanding them than Old Testament worshippers had; and we are sure the Book of Psalms was their psalmody. (5.) If we are unable to understand the Psalms, much less are we able to compose songs which will supply their place. (6.) If any man does not understand the Psalms, let him, under the direction of their divine Author, endeavor to ascertain their meaning. (7.) The psalms are not, in general, hard to understand. There is, indeed, an unfathomable depth of meaning in them; but no man finds fault with a well on account of its depth, if the water rises to the surface. There can be more divine truth, and true devotional sentiment found on the very face of the inspired Psalms, than can be obtained from those which are uninspired, when they are worn threadbare.

7. ‘That the Psalms are not adapted to New Testament worship.’

Answer. – (1.) God never changes, and of course his praise is always the same. (2.) The Spirit of God was better able, in the days of David, to prepare songs suited to New Testament worship, than men are now. (3.) The Psalms everywhere speak most clearly of Christ and his mediatorial work, kingdom and glory; and are, by the Apostles, copiously quoted in illustration of the way of salvation. (4.) They make less reference to the peculiarities of the old dispensation, than some books of the New Testament do. (5.) We have no Book of Psalms in the New Testament, and no command to prepare one.
8. ‘That the Psalms contain sentiments adverse to the spirit of the Gospel; abounding with sharp invectives against personal enemies, and being, in many instances, expressive of revenge, etc.’

Answer. – It is blasphemy.

9. ‘That the Psalms are not sufficiently copious to furnish a complete system of psalmody.’

Answer. – (1.) God is no more glorious now than he was in Old Testament times; and if the Psalms were sufficient then for the expression of his praise, they are still sufficient. (2.) It is too much for any man to take upon himself to decide how copious a system of psalmody ought to be. (3.) The Book of Psalms actually contains an incomparably greater abundance and variety of matter than all the hymns which were ever composed by men.

10. ‘That we have no good metrical translation of the Psalms.’

Answer. – (1.) Let those who think we have no good metrical translation of the Psalms, improve some of the versions in use, or make a better. It is surely easier to make a good translation of God’s Psalms, than to compose songs better than those which He has made. (2.) It is better to sing, in divine worship, an imperfect translation of those songs which God has composed, than to sing the best songs which men can make. (3.) We have a good metrical translation of the Psalms. There are, in the Scottish version of the Psalms, it is true, some blemishes. It contains some uncouth forms of expression, and some words which are now obsolete; and its versification in many instances is far from being smooth. But, for the most part, both the phraseology and the versification are very good; and it must be allowed by those who have examined it, that its fidelity to the original Hebrew is not much, if at all, inferior to that of the prose translation of the Psalms, in our English Bible.

These few observations are submitted to the judgment of the candid and intelligent reader. Though they may not be blessed as a means of reclaiming any from the practice of using human psalmody, yet if they serve to establish some in their attachment to the Psalms of inspiration, the writer will not consider his labor lost. Christian worshippers will one day see eye to eye, on this, as on all other important points. In the meantime, all the fearers of God can, with confidence, commit the interests of Christ’s truth, so far as they are involved in this controversy, to the management of Him who brings order out of confusion, and light out of darkness; and praying, `Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ rest assured that very soon, in songs appointed by Jehovah’s own high authority, the devout worshipper will everywhere `give to the LORD the glory due unto his name.’

`Praise ye the Lord; unto him sing a new song; and his praise, In the assembly of his saints, in sweet Psalms do ye raise. Let Isr’el in his Maker joy, and to Him praises sing; Let all that Zion’s children are, be joyful in their KING.’
 

FrielWatcher

Puritan Board Sophomore
Mr. Doug,

Thanks for that apology concerning the psalmody. I find it very informative and instructive.

This came to mind when I was reading the article and it has to do with prophesy. When reading Isaiah, say, I don't think it is appropriate to say "this is for me" because those words were given to Isaiah to speak to the people of Judah, Ephraim and so forth. The prophesy was in context - a specific time, a place and concerning a certain people. Now, when we look at today's time, we take Isaiah as a reference as to what the Lord did then, and we should be low in heart because the same destruction that God appointed to His chosen, why should He not pour out on us, the Gentiles.

So, David being chased by Saul and his army. Could we say that some parts of the psalms were for David in a context? God is sovereign and holy. These are petitions, praise, worship and prayers to God. David wrote them, David was a sinful man as much as any person then or now. End: Why would another Godly man - say Edwards or Owen - not be in any position to write a psalm that would be worthy for the praise and adoration of the Father and Christ? Or say Peter or Paul, or Calvin?

I hope I am in line and not falling off the fine line.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
David wrote them, David was a sinful man as much as any person then or now. End: Why would another Godly man - say Edwards or Owen - not be in any position to write a psalm that would be worthy for the praise and adoration of the Father and Christ?
Because, though David was a sinful man, the Psalms are the inspired writings of God not merely of David.

The Book of Psalms is "The Book of Praises" and it is meant for singing praises to God.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
We are commanded to be taught and admonished by the Psalms.

The Psalms teach that we are to sing the Psalms and new songs.

We are commanded to sing the Psalms and new songs.

More here.
 

dcomin

Psalm Singa
These are petitions, praise, worship and prayers to God. David wrote them, David was a sinful man as much as any person then or now. End: Why would another Godly man - say Edwards or Owen - not be in any position to write a psalm that would be worthy for the praise and adoration of the Father and Christ? Or say Peter or Paul, or Calvin?
In 2 Samuel 23:1-2, David says, "Thus says David the son of Jesse; Thus says the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel: The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and His Word was on my tongue."

Both Peter and Paul could make a similar claim, since they were among the inspired writers of the scriptures, yet neither of them wrote any hymns. Neither Calvin, Edwards or Owen could claim what David claimed.

David has a special office by God's appointment: the Sweet Psalmist of Israel. While his Psalms, and those written by other inspired authors, were written in specific historical contexts, they were also prophetic and inspired. God intended them to be part of the canon of holy scripture, and whatever their immediate context, they were designed to point us to Christ.

No uninspired writer of hymns can claim this.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
And no uninspired preacher or person that prays can claim the perfection of the inspired preachers and prayers, yet we use their words, sermons and prayers as models for our own uninspired compositions.
 

dcomin

Psalm Singa
Ah... jd my friend...

I was going to begin to write a lengthy response explaining why preaching and praying are very different kinds of activities than is singing, and why your argument based on them being parallel types of activities is simply not valid...

But we've been over the same ground over and over and over again, and I'm convinced that nothing I say is going to persuade you to see the matter differently.

I do not wish to :deadhorse: any more.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
We are commanded to be taught and admonished by the Psalms.

The Psalms teach that we are to sing the Psalms and new songs.

We are commanded to sing the Psalms and new songs.

More here.
Here's a reference to "new songs"...

Ps 33:2-3
Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

The "new" can also mean new in the sense of being fresh...so singing a Psalm in a fresh/new manner.
Notice also that the command is to "sing" the new song, not to "write" it.
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
Larry - a new song has to be written in order to sing it. Also, I agree that an "old" song can be sung in a "refreshed" way, just not that these verses require that. It is strained exegesis.

Doug, dear brother - I know we have agreed to disagree, but you should at least link to your rationale - the brother is working through it and should see your and other's good work, so he can "test everything".
 
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