Still Chewing on EP/Acapella ONLY

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by G, Nov 21, 2018.

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  1. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Yes, although we should be clear that not all idolatries are equal. Indeed, we are all guilty of idolatries to some extent or another (see WLC 108-9) and some are far worse than other. Worshipping Baal is worse than having a crucifix in the sanctuary which is again worse than the unauthorized use of instruments in worship. However, the imposition of uncommanded elements on the congregation in worship is never morally neutral. It would be more similar to Nehushtan, the bronze serpent, than Timothy's circumcision.
  2. EvanVK

    EvanVK Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, will-worship, false worship, idolatry etc..
  3. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    I appreciate this conversation, though I think it's time for me to leave it alone after we've written 200+ posts.

    Thank you all for discussing. Although I cannot find the arguments persuasive, I realize that we have more in common that unites us than that which separates us.

    I would without hesitation sing Psalms with any of you in your churches. Perhaps one day we'll even song the song of Moses and the song of Lamb together (accompanied by the harp). ;)


  4. Scottish Presbyterian

    Scottish Presbyterian Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Grant, yes the sound quality is poor, sorry that you can't enjoy them. The content is excellent, I found that I could listen relatively comfortably with the volume a little lower than normal. Hope you find other material which will be helpful to you.
  5. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    No worries. I may try again with some noise canceling headphones .... that may help me focus more on the sermon.
  6. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Does the fact that since Ephesians and Colossians were written primarily to Gentiles have any effect on how we should render and understand the intent of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs?

    Just as the gospel had been foreign to the gentiles (broadly speaking) surely with regards to song selection there would have be a foreign aspect to the idea of you can only sing the Psalter. Was it so foreign that is was unlikely?

    I had this question posed to me in a recent discussion. Love to hear thoughts from both sides.
  7. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    This thread's still running, eh? ;)

    I'm not exactly sure what the question is aiming to get at. Is it suggesting that singing from the psalter would be a foreign concept to Gentiles? Well, of course it would be. Singing praises to the Living God at all was rather newish. Come to think of it, so was the covenant, baptism, the Lord's supper... Quite a lot was newish, actually.

    The question appears to miss the point that "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" were the only songs around that could have been sung in worship. Psalms were the only songs used in the worship of Israel, and, consequently, they were the only songs used in the worship of the early church. Nothing else had yet been dreamt up. To a Gentile convert to Christianity, there could not have been, nay, there was not, any other song even conceivably fit for worship.
  8. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    It was a foreign matter to a degree but there were not any songs available at the time other than the Psalms. The leadership for these gentile churches were mostly the Apostles and they were all Jews. The person asking the question is working their own presups into the mix.
  9. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Sure--it means that they would have understood the terms in light of their Greek Psalters.
  10. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    Could you explain a little more?
  11. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The Greek terms used, psalmois, hymnois, odais, were all used in the Greek version of the Psalms that these Gentile Christians would have been reading.
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  12. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Let's see if we can make this thread go for another eight pages. ;)

    (Very much kidding on that one!)

    LXX use of psalms, hymns and songs outside of 150 Psalms.

    Psalm: Job 21:12, 30:31, Lam. 3:14, 5:23

    Hymn: Is. 42:10

    Song (ode): Ex. 15:1, Deut. 31:19 (multiple uses through 32:44), Judg. 5:12, 1 Kings 4:32, 8:53, Hab. 3:1, 19

    Couple this data with the fact that we can conclusively prove a number of biblical examples of non-EP saints, but no EP saints. With this data, how can we "prove" that the Ephesians and Colossians took these terms as EP? The evidence suggests otherwise.
  13. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    What about the "prayer" (LXX "ode") of Habakkuk in ch. 3? It is not of the 150 and it was written to be sung/played by the chief musician (3:19).
  14. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Senior

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  15. G

    G Puritan Board Junior

    This is an interesting thought and I am glad you posed the question. Do you think this has any bearing on composing uninspired hymns? or rather strictly dealing with the EP position?
  16. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    Both. First, it calls into question the basic assumptions that EP makes about the usage of Paul's terminology. Naturally, it then begs the question, what does Paul mean? Paul is describing praise. Praise is a response to God's glory and salvation (among other things). Is our response to God best represented in verbatim scripture, or a mixture of scripture and our own words directly responding to what God has done for us? As I've said before, the best response of praise is going to have continuity with the other parts of worship and be a mixture of both inspired and uninspired words. This is also consistent with "singing with understanding," since our understanding which is part of our praise to God is not inspired, even when singing inspired words.
  17. G

    G Puritan Board Junior


    Still chewing on both sides of this. How do you distinguish psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?

    Maybe you would be similar to Matthew Henry regarding that verse. (however he was anti instrument, but he was not EP)

    Matthew Henry Commentary on Ephesians 5:19:
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
  18. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    If it has not been posted, and at 8 pages it might have been more than once already(!), here is the 1673 preface to the only English Edition of the 1650 Scottish Psalter in the seventeenth century. It was signed by, Thomas Manton D.D., Henry Langley D.D., John Owen D.D., William Jenkyn, James Innes, Thomas Watson, Thomas Lye, Matthew Poole, John Milward, John Chester, George Cokayn, Matthew Meade, Robert Francklin, Thomas Dooelittle, Thomas Vincent, Nathanael Vincent, John Ryther, William Tomson, Nicolas Blaikie, Charles Morton, Edmund Calamy, William Carslake, James Janeway, John Hickes, John Baker, Richard Mayo. Who said, "and to us David's Psalms seem plainly intended by those terms of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs," which the apostle useth (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)."
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  19. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    I believe that a sharp distinction between the terms is a little out of character with Paul's argument, as the terms do overlap. He is using the terms comprehensively for all of praise.

    Psalms likely had its strongest reference to scripture Psalms, whether part of the 150 or otherwise (remember the 150 are a collection of psalms, not the definition of psalms). Hymns in Greek would refer to religious songs. This would overlap with Psalms, but might also be paraphrased scripture (metrical Psalms? ;) ) or otherwise known religious music. Odes in Greek were not inherently religious in nature, which explains the adjective "spiritual." Again, it probably somewhat overlaps but may also include spontaneous songs of joy. Spontaneity may not be appropriate for public worship since the congregation cannot be simultaneously spontaneous, but certainly appropriate for private worship.
  20. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Senior

    They may have interpreted this way, though they were not all EP. Just clarifying...
  21. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    That may be true, though I would contend the concession is not to other things being sung in churches, but for the place outside the public assembly, but I've never run down the list to verify individual views (and for those who may mistake, the Calamy is the son not the Westminster divine). That being said, Manton is sufficiently covered in Matthew Winzer's review of Iain Murray on this subject. And that is all I have on the topic.
  22. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor


    Here's a good website generally, but they had a good article on EP:

    Here's one on instruments if they are a circumstance of worship (they are obviously not an element, I don't know anyone here who suggests they must be used and if not you are in sin. So the only other possibility is if it could be a circumstance of worship):

    John Girardeau also deals with circumstances in his book on the topic:
  23. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    We've started going in circles.

    @timfost, I think you'll find that at the time of Paul's letters to the Colossians and the Ephesians, there were no other songs sung in worship than the psalms. That has been stated and restated several times over in this thread.

    It was the practice in the temple to sing psalms. It was the practice of the synagogues. And it was the practice of the church. To any first-century believer, Jew or Gentile, singing other songs in worship was entirely foreign.

    The argument that in the early church some NT passages were sung is, to my mind, quite weak, although it seems to me not as far wrong as giving license to entirely uninspired songs.
  24. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    There are a number of common misconceptions here. One is that the psalms were regularly sung in the synagogue in the first century AD. In fact, most scholars believe that there was no singing in the synagogue until after the Fall of the temple in AD70 (when it was transferred to the synagogue along with other priestly practices like benediction). We also know that at Qumran and among the Therapeutae (who were widely distributed among the diaspora, though centered in Alexandria), Jewish sects were singing a wide variety of songs, not just Biblical psalms. The Septuagint has an additional unnumbered psalm, which is now known in Hebrew from Qumran. So, no...if the community in Ephesus had any experience of Jewish believers singing prior to Paul's arrival, it is perfectly plausible that they would have been singing some non-canonical songs. None of which disproves EP (and in general I'm in favor of singing psalms), but the case is not as clear cut as it is often presented.
  25. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Senior

    Then my information is at best incomplete. I will have to do more research. Your correction is appreciated. If you could direct me to any sources, I would appreciate that as well.
  26. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    Here are some resources:
    On Qumran:

    Philo on the Therapeutae:
    Then the President rises and sings a hymn composed as an address to God, either a new one of his own composition or an old one by poets of an earlier day who have left behind them hymns in many measures and melodies, hexameters and iambics, lyrics suitable for processions or in libations and at the altars, or for the chorus whilst standing or dancing…They all lift up their voices, men and women alike Then the President rises and sings a hymn composed as an address to God, either a new one of his own composition or an old one by poets of an earlier day who have left behind them hymns in many measures and melodies, hexameters and iambics, lyrics suitable for processions or in libations and at the altars, or for the chorus whilst standing or dancing…They all lift up their voices, men and women alike. (De Vita Contempliva, 64 ff)

    Philo on hymns and songs, which in context are clearly not canonical:
    "And when they heard of the arrest that had taken place, and that Flaccus was now within the toils, stretching up their hands to heaven, they sang a hymn, and began a song of praise to God, who presides over all the affairs of men, saying, "We are not delighted, O Master, at the punishment of our enemy, being taught by the sacred laws to submit to all the vicissitudes of human life, but we justly give thanks to thee, who hast had mercy and compassion upon us, and who hast thus relieved our continual and incessant oppressions."

    122 And when they had spent the whole night in hymns and songs, they poured out through the gates at the earliest dawn, and hastened to the nearest point of the shore, for they had been deprived of their usual places for prayer, and standing in a clear and open space, they cried out, 123 "O most mighty King of all mortal and immortal beings, we have come to offer thanks unto thee, to invoke earth and sea, and the air and the heaven, and all the parts of the universe, and the whole world in which alone we dwell, being driven out by men and robbed of everything else in the world, and being deprived of our city, and of all the buildings both private and public within the city, and being made houseless and homeless by the treachery of our governor, the only men in the world who are so treated. 124 You suggest to us favourable hopes of the setting straight of what is left to us, beginning to consent to our prayers, inasmuch as you have on a sudden thrown down the common enemy of our nation, the author and cause of all our calamities, exulting in pride, and trusting that he would gain credit by such means, before he was removed to a distance from us, in order that those who were evilly afflicted might not feel their joy impaired by learning it only by report, but you have chastised him while he was so near, almost as we may say before the eyes of those whom he oppressed, in order to give us a more distinct perception of the end which has fallen upon him in a short time beyond our hopes." (Against Flaccus, 14).
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  27. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think the practices of the church after the days of the apostles can be used to determine what God has commanded in his word. You won't find a commandment from God to his people to compose or sing uninspired song in the worship of him. You will find in Scripture that only inspired songs were commanded to be sung, and that inspired songs were given them to sing. I think you go from there in your thinking.
  28. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm glad you think the Scriptures must determine what we do in worship, not the later practices of the church. So do I. In fact, I teach an entire course on worship from that perspective at seminary! But I hope you also think it is important to have our beliefs about what the Bible teaches based on solid exegesis and hermeneutics. And of course the question of what God has commanded to be sung is precisely the issue at debate. I entirely understand how people reach your position based on the Scriptures, just as I understand how some people read the Bible and become convinced Baptists. I just happen to disagree with their exegesis and hermeneutics.

    In this case, it is important that we don't base our understanding of Colossians 3 and Eph 5 on a faulty knowledge of the background material (i.e. that the psalms were being sung exclusively in the synagogue in the early first century and that no uninspired songs were being sung by any Jewish community in the Mediterranean world). You can still argue that Paul is using these terms for inspired songs on the basis of other factors. Just not that one.
  29. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    Are you saying the Bible should be our sole authority for faith and practice? ;)
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  30. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks, Dr. Duguid. I do believe we must base our case on solid exegesis and hermeneutics.
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