Take the EP Challenge !!

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Saiph, Oct 18, 2005.

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  1. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    I know there are other EP threads, but I have not found the answer to my question in them. If I missed it, point me to that thread and close this one.

    Here goes.

    Where does EP find justification for the majority of Psalters out there having metrical and rhyming versions that are worse in translation than the NIV.

    Does not that violate the RPW ? Since many of them add words to the Psalms that are not in the hebrew or even implied by the hebrew.

    Case in point:

    Check this out from the Scottish Psalter:

    The Real Psalm:

    Note what was added:

    BRAY ? ? ? God of MIGHT ?? (true but not in the text)
    Presence of SIGHT ? ? (again, nice and can be found elsewhere, but not in the text)

    If that is not paraphrase and translation liberty I do not know what is.

    Note what was removed:

    "To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah."

    Is that part not inspired ? ? Why not sing it then ?

    I challenge anyone to post a version of the Psalter that does not add or remove words from the sacred scriptures. In my understanding, in order for EP to be consistent, one needs to sing only as literal translation as possible. Adding or removing a single word (jot, tittle or iota as Christ said) violates the RPW as well.

    [Edited on 10-19-2005 by Saiph]
  2. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor


    Take that EPers!
  3. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked

    I vote that we all learn Hebrew!

  4. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    This has been discussed. See this thread.

    I took the challenge. :D
  5. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    I just read the whole thread carefully Jeff. I do not see my question answered.

    Looks more like Kevin Easterday owned you guys:

    I particularly love the all too common evasion to straitforward questions that goes "I do not need to repeat what has been discussed in other threads . . "

    Bahnsen said that if you cannot explain what you believe in simple terms, then you do not know what you believe.

    Show me in scripture where we have the liberty, by necessary consequence, not even a command, to add or remove words because it makes it easier to sing.

    Then re-affirm that it is indeed NOT a command, and admit, that the RPW is not as easy as the advocates make it out to be.

    Again, I prefer the RPW to nothing, but there are times when it is taken way too far.
  6. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Mark, the sanction to interpret the psalms into the vulgar comes from 1 Cor. 14. We are to sing with understanding. That requires translation of the text, just as it does in translating the rest of Scripture.

    Your criticism of some psalters is completely justified though. There should be no paraphrases, only translations which do not compromise the true meaning of the text, at least no more than the normal translation process would allow in translating Scripture.

    There are only a couple psalters I know of who attempted this method of translation straight from the Hebrew: The Bay Psalm Book, complied by the New England Puritans, and a couple of the Scottish psalters. All the others tend to paraphrase.
  7. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Then sing from the ESV or NASB or NKJV.

    And brother, the Bay Psalm book ? Seriously ?

    1 O blessed man, that in th'advice
    of wicked doth not walk
    Nor stand in sinners way nor sit
    in chayre of scornfull folk.

    2 But in the law of Jehova,
    is his longing delight;
    and in his law doth meditate
    by day and ere by night.

    3 And he shall be like to a tree
    planted by water-rivers:
    That in his season yields his fruit
    And his leafe never withers.

    4 And all he doth, shall prosper well,
    the wicked are not so:
    But they are like unto the chaffe
    which winde drives to and fro.

    5 Therefore shall not ungodly men,
    rise to stand in the doome,
    Nor shall the sinners with the just,
    in their assemblie come.

    6 For of the righteous men, the Lord
    aknowledgeth the way:
    but the way of ungodly men,
    shall utterly decay.

    Besides the fact that God's, holy inerrant and infallible word has been reduced to something resembling a Hallmark card, there are several grammatical errors, and word order re-arrangements that stray from the hebrew. For instance, is the Bay version addressing the godly man, or describing him ? ? The ehsher phrase is meant to be exclamatory.

    1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
    nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
    2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
    3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
    In all that he does, he prospers.
    4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
    5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
    6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

    [Edited on 10-19-2005 by Saiph]
  8. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I said they attempted it. I didn't say it worked well :)
  9. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    We do not have the authority to paraphrase the scriptures in order to make them easier to sing. Whatever Psalter is used, it should be a faithful translation of the original Psalms, which were meant to be sung by God.

    I don't understand your big deal, when one compares the Geneva Bible to the Scottish Psalter of 1650, the wording is almost identical:

    Geneva Bible
    Scottish Psalter of 1650
    or perhaps the King James 1611?
    If old English is hard for you to read, welcome to the club. :handshake:

    The way I see it, this only leaves one objection:
    Surely the title is inspired. Why isn't it sung? Was it meant to be sung? Just because it is inspired does not mean that it has to be sung. The entirety of Holy writ is God breathed, but God meant that his Psalms be sung to properly worship him.

    Are the instructional titles actually part of the song itself? Do you honestly believe that God (in telling us the author and method of singing) meant us to sing that part?

    Regardless of your answer to the question of the above, the amount of Psalm you sing is a consequence of worship, and not an element. God has never said "Thou shalt sing 5 Psalms every Sunday" or "1/2 Psalm next Sunday." The amount of singing is left to the discretion of the Session precisely because God has not commanded how much we sing.

    The important thing is that we sing Psalms.
  10. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I think another great difficulty for EP is overcoming the historical and cultural gap between the ancient Hebrew/Semitic music (whatever that was!) which teh psalms were written to and Modern Western music. That's what makes translation so awkward and difficult. It just sounds weird to us because we don't have a Semitic mind.
  11. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    No, I don't, but I do not subscribe to EP. Just curious.

    Seems like you can get very selective of what to keep in those Psalms.
    I am reading through my copy of The Psalter Hymnal by the Christian Reformed Church as I am thinking about it and underlining in pencil the several words not even hinted at in the hebrew.

    Also, the KJV & Geneva translations you quoted are in error as well.
    Bray is not in there:

    BDB Definition:
    1) (Qal) to long for, pant after.


    ar-oo-gaw', ar-oo-gaw'
    Feminine passive participle of H6165; something piled up (as if (figuratively) raised by mental aspiration), that is, a parterre: - bed, furrow.

    Not to be really picky, but there are several mistranslations so far, that I have seen. Like I said, worse than the NIV.

    So, does that not bother you at all ?
  12. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Keep in mind, although the poetry is silly, I do believe most of the Psalter versions I have read thus far are theologically correct, just not literal translations of scripture.

    [Edited on 10-19-2005 by Saiph]
  13. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Wow, check out The Message,

    No one on this board would disagree that this is total cheese. Yet, I do not see a difference between the message and most of the Psalter versions.
  14. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    1) I have to add that I think it is arbitrary to sing only part of a Psalm, and not the whole thing, as we find in many Psalters, including the common RPCNA edition. Justify that. And if you do that, I have other questions:

    2) What is a "normative" Psalm-portion, how is that defined/defended biblically? 12 verses? 6 verses? 3 verses? How about 1 verse? How about a piece of a verse?

    3) Can you sing two Psalm-selections back to back, using the same tune? Many have common meter. The same tune is printed with many Psalm selections. I doubt if many will object to this...

    But some might sing Ps. 40B (vv. 1-4) and 89F (vv. 30-37). Is that OK? Why or why not? What if I want to sing only verse 1 of 40B, and verses 3 & 4 of 89F? Suppose for some reason, I decided those verses really complemented my sermon. Isn't it OK to sing them? No? How do you decide where I've crossed the line into error?

    4) But if all that is OK (according to EP--and I'm not claiming that it is, this is hypothetical) then in Psalm 40D, 11th stanza, I have 1/2 of verse 13. What if I sang only that. Is it wrong? Why or why not? Could I sing another 1/2 verse of another Psalm along with it? Why not? It's a Psalter selection! Who gets to decide how long these selections have to be?

    5) What if I just want little phrases of my Psalms, self-contained thoughts, or even content-laden words? Why can't I do this? Just explain to me the biblical justification, that doesn't also compromise using a standard Psalter. String them together from several Psalms, and voila--"The God of Abram Praise!" (Trinity Hymnal, #34). I know this is possible, because I picked over the first verse of this hymn, and found the essence of the whole scattered through the Psalms, a verse here, a bit there. But, of course, this is just singing Biblical theology, and is illegitimate according to EP.

    6) If I have made my point, then typical EP advocates are being arbitrary if they illegitimately break up Psalms to sing them. If I can't legitimately break up a Psalm, how will we ever sing the longer Psalms in our standard worship services?

    As I have stated in some other thread, the real question (for my money) is:
    How do I sing the Psalms (the foundation of all Christian music-making) in a New Testament context? We must sing the inspired Psalms. But we also need to sing faithful uninspired hymns and spiritual songs that accurately vocalize the biblical theology we believe.
  15. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    F. F. Bruce, in his New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and the Ephesians, says,

    Some of the same exegetes claim that the adjective "spiritual" (pneumatikais), as used in Ephesians 5:19, modifies all three of the nouns. The verse would then read, "in psalms and hymns and songs spiritual." Not only, they say, are the psalms "Spirit-breathed," so also are the hymns and songs; they are all equally Scripture. (Actually, since pneumatikais is feminine, it modifies odai, which is also feminine; psalmois and hymnois are both masculine.) If one follows this theory of the exclusive Psalmodists, the syntax of the verse would require the Psalms and hymns to be specific kinds of "spiritual odes."
  16. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Bruce, you raise some good questions, but the exact same questions could be asked of hymnody as well. How long should a song be? How many verses or theological truths should they contain? in my opinion, in either case EP or non-EP they would fall under circumstances.
  17. Peter

    Peter Puritan Board Junior

    Mark, I am satisified that the major psalter translations are largely faithful to the orignial language. These psalters were translated by Hebrew scholars whose aim was an accurate metrical translation. Another thing which we must guard against is falling to an Islamic theory of inspiration. That is, that there is one word for word revelation of God and anything which falls short of the least jot or tittle is not God's word. The christian understanding of inspiration is much different compare the septuagint to the original hebrew or even the loose way the NT scriptures quotes the OT.

    Bruce you also bring up an interesting point, some thing which had troubled me before and I haven't yet been able to find an answer. One last thing which is applicable to both objections, assuming neither can be sufficiently resolved, this is not a problem to EP in principle, only contemporary practice of EP.
  18. Arch2k

    Arch2k Puritan Board Graduate

    Not to mention the same can be said of how long the sermon is, what text the sermon is based off of, and what scriptures are read during the public worship.

    All of these are left up to the session to determine what is best for the congregation. Theoretically, one could preach from three chapters of the bible, but it probably wouldn't be the best idea. But still, God has commanded that preaching be done. Theoretically, the pastor could read the entire book of Matthew in one sitting, but it probably wouldn't be the best idea. In the same vein, theoretically, a congregation could sing the entirety of Psalm 119, but it would take a really, really, really long time.

  19. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Right Patrick,
    But a hymnody advocate is not worried that in so doing, he may accidentally start singing "Amazing Grace," right? That's the point of my post. I'm saying that as I see it, anything less than a Psalm in tota opens up the position to the charge of arbitraryness. (Who would ever even think of such an objection to singing uninspired hymnody who wasn't guilty of raising a circumstance to the level of element?) If one states that he is "comfortable" singing 3 verses of a Psalm that has 30, then he is being arbitrary if he objects to someone else singing 1, or 1/2, or a single pregnant word from the Psalm. And in principle, what is the difference between singing 40B and 89F together, and singing "The God of Abram Praise"?

    These are legitimate questions. I sincerely would like to see them addressed, they aren't mere "contentiousness". Mark has also raised an issue that I have also raised in the past, namely that unless an EPer is prepared to defend the logical extreme of the EP position, he is going to have to use essentially the same arguments as his non-EP opponents to justify his practice against the "purists" who condemn his Psalter choice. Because what he calls a circumstance, someone else will challenge as being not-necessary for expression and thus not adiaphora.
  20. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    With the N.T. command to "teach and admonish one another" in the fullness of the mystery of Christ, how is that accomplished by EP ?
    The Psalms speak of the mystery of Christ in a veiled form (2 Cor. 3:5-18). They look forward to the coming Christ (Luke 24:44), but do not celebrate the fact that Christ has come. So Col. 3:16 commands the church in any age, including past the so-called cessation of the sign gifts, to continue practicing that for edification, while striving to attain to the fullness of the stature of Christ (Col. 1:28; Eph. 4:13).

    The aim of the EP arguments are indeed noble, and reverent, and have a high view of Scripture and worship of God alone, with as little man-centeredness as possible.

    I would prefer the idea of predominant Psalmody to exclusive Psalmody.

    [Edited on 10-19-2005 by Saiph]
  21. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    They do edify when interpreted correctly. Notice that the psalms are written in present tense. They address the same issues we all struggle with now, and praise the same redeeming God we praise now. But it is imperative that pastors in EP churches explain the christological meaning of the psalms so the people can sing with understanding. Otherwise they sing in vain.
  22. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Mark, (a) you're comparing metrical Psalm versions, not to the Hebrew, but to other English translations, whereas we've seen that English translations themselves can differ widely. Just as no English prose version of the Psalms is going to be perfect, no English metrical version of the Psalms is going to be perfect. I believe that the same justification for translating the Psalms into prose English would apply for translating the Psalms into metrical English.

    In fact, I remember being showed the Message's "translation" of a few Psalms when I was deployed to Iraq. My first objection was, "But how would you sing that?" If God gave the Psalms for the purpose of being sung, that is a consideration that should enter into our translation process (resulting in metrical versions of the Psalms).

    (b.) If you want to quote authorities on this issue, EP'ers can do the same. Personally, I don't think Jonathan Edwards, F.F. Bruce or Charles Hodge hold a candle to John Owen and the other Puritans who signed the preface to the London edition of the Psalms of David in Metre.

    Of course, I would point out that F.F. Bruce said, (1.) "It is unlikely that any sharply demarcated division is intended" by the words "psalms," "hymns," and "songs;" (2.) "the 'hymns' might be Christian canticles," and "the spiritual songs might be unpremeditated words sung 'in the Spirit.'"

    (c.) The liberty of the New Covenant believer does not consist in an enlarged hymnbook.

    Bruce, if you'll check Matthew Henry's Works, Vol. I, pp. 413-443, he wrote "Family Hymns, Gathered mostly out of the Translations of David's Psalms." Henry was not an EP'er, but he did seem to hold to singing only inspired songs (even if that meant putting other passages of Scripture to song). His "Family Hymns" mostly consisted of taking selections of various Psalms and putting them together to form one hymn.

    I honestly don't have too much of a problem with that (especially since Henry designed his "Family Hymns" for family worship). I don't have a problem with reading one verse from Romans, and another from Isaiah, and another from John; why should there be a problem with doing the same thing with singing?

    But just as the public reading of the Word should not be jumping around from text to text, but should instead be a reading of one portion of Scripture, like a whole chapter; so also the public singing of Psalms should not be the singing of hymns which consist of one verse of one Psalm, and another verse of another Psalm. There should be the same consistency as with the reading of the Word.

    [Edited on 10-19-2005 by Kaalvenist]
  23. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Of course they speak of Christ:

    Christ's mediatorial offices in the Psalms:
    as Prophet - Ps. 40:9-10
    as Priest - Ps. 110:4
    as King - Ps. 2:7-12; 22:28; 45:6; 72; 110:1

    "Messianic Psalms" because of their focus on Christ:
    Ps. 2, 8, 16, 22, 40, 45, 69, 72, 110

    Christ's divinity - Ps. 45:6; 110:1
    Christ's eternal Sonship - Ps. 2:7
    Christ's incarnation - Ps. 8:5; 40:7-9
    Christ's betrayal - Ps. 41:9
    Christ's agony in the garden - Ps. 22:2
    Christ's trial - Ps. 35:11
    Christ's rejection - Ps. 22:6; 118:22
    Christ's crucifixion - Ps. 22; 69
    Christ's burial and resurrection - Ps. 16:9-11
    Christ's ascension - Ps. 24:7-10; 47:5; 68:18
    Christ's second coming and judgment - Ps. 50:3-4; 98:6-9
    Christ's kingdom - Ps. 2:6-12; 45:6 ff.

    But it is as St. Paul said, "veiled".
  24. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    God didn't see fit to supplement the Old Testament Psalms with New Testament Psalms. Why should we?
  25. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    I showed one example where it did not interpret the hebrew correctly. Would you like more ?

    I just want to point out that godly men are also on the Non-EP side.

    So if we can do it with the Psalms, why not other scriptures ? ?
  26. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Even though I prefer predominant psalmody (PP) to exclusive psalmody (EP), here is a great example of the nobility and well meaning of the EP argument.

  27. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore


    1. You showed where the metrical version did not match up with a prose version. I don't recall seeing you examining the Hebrew (unless I missed it--this post is starting to fill up with comments).

    2. Arguing that Psalters are imperfect is not an argument against EP; it is an argument that we need better Psalters.

    3. I could show where English prose versions don't match up very well with the Hebrew or Greek. That would not be a valid argument against Sola Scriptura. Ergo, your showing imperfections in metrical versions is not a valid argument against EP.

    4. Godly men are on both sides of this issue (as with a host of other issues). Fair enough, and it's sometimes good to be reminded of that fact.

    5. The Psalms are not ordinary Scripture; they are songs, and were originally written with the intent that they be sung. The Epistle to the Ephesians, while inspired, was not written with that same intent.
  28. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    :ditto: the above. How much of a psalm to sing is not any more or less of a "problem" than how much scripture should be read in public worship. It doesn't go to the question of EP or nonEP.

    Ya'll just like to tweak the moderators' don't you? One EP thread is killed and two more pop up?
  29. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    You are correct, the argument against bad psalters is not an argument against EP per se, but an argument using the RPW against how many EP advocates sing the most inane Hallmark paraphrases of God's holy word.

    Maybe that was ad hominem, but the RPW does imply we should not add or remove words of Psalms.

    And, I am seriously considering EP and RPW issues on this board. Why should we not discuss it more thoroughly, from different angles ?
    Would you have us sit around and talk about everything we agree on like the virgin birth. Wow, how exciting and fun that would be.

    So, a further question for you.
    Does RPW take into account by necessary and good deduction the worship in heaven ? When Christ said "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven", does that mean we can use the Apocalypse as a model for worship ? ?

    The Book of Revelation contains a number of examples of worship song (e.g., 4:8, 11; 5:9-13; 7:10-12; 11:17-18; 14:2-3; 15:3-4; 19:1, 2, 5, 8). A question that needs to be answered regarding these songs is: "œDo these allusions to worship in heaven teach us anything regarding what we are to sing in public worship and how we are to conduct public worship at the present time?"

    In light of the Lord's prayer, why or why not ?

    [Edited on 10-19-2005 by Saiph]
  30. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Thanks for the input. I still don't see how you can avoid the charge of arbitrariness if you do not Scripturally define how you are going to break a Psalm down. If three verses are OK, why not a single word or phrase?
    This is exactly the kind of assertion that I really want to see defended from Scripture. Those are dramatic claims. Without a specific warrant, they are arbitrary, if you make them normative. Our Scripture "divisions" are not insipred. They are mostly conventions, Psalms being a notable exception. A minister may have outstanding justification for reading a single Proverb and a single-verse from the Psalms and the NT, 3 verses total. That might not be our preference, but it is not wrong. When I pray publicly, I deliberately interweave Scripture language from every part of Scripture as it comes to my mind, phrases from all over (ala Matthew Henry ,A Method of Prayer). My point is, it is normative to put Scripture together all over our worship.

    Your reference to Matthew Henry is exactly along the line of my argument. You think this work of his is fine, at least for family worship. Not every EPer is going to agree with you, probably not all on this board unless I miss my guess. That is a slippery slope to them. You have just justified 1/2 of "Watt's witicisms," derisively so-called. And there is still the matter of excluding Henry's or Watts' compositions that meet this criteria from public worship. Tell me the biblical basis for this exclusion, that does not undercut the normal practice in your own church.
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