The Intent of the Original Westminster Standards in Comparison to the Synods of Dort

Should the Original Westminster Standards be considered an Exclusive Psalmody required document?

  • Yes

    Votes: 19 82.6%
  • No

    Votes: 4 17.4%

  • Total voters
    23
  • Poll closed .
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Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
Or c) they believed that the term "psalms" was clear enough. If they intended to be imprecise (ambiguous) wouldn't they have said "songs"?
Then perhaps they erred in thinking it was precise, or we would not have all the controversy we have had over the past 300+ years? :lol: That there is controversy by honest men of greater intellect than I is without doubt. If they did not intend imprecision, then they erroneously thought it was sufficiently precise.

I'd have preferred precision in either direction, which would have been easily achieved, but alas, they did not ask my advice.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
I'm honestly a bit confused as to how/when the term "psalms" became ambiguous, imprecise, or unclear. Is it really considered unclear?

Our pastor says to "turn to the psalms", not to "turn to the book of 150 psalms in the Bible, many of which were penned by David and in case any of you were confused I don't mean Maranatha or the Trinity Hymnal."
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
My guess is that it originated with late 20th century back and forth over exclusive psalmody; was the Westminster assembly an assembly of exclusive psalmodists? etc. Rowland Ward made a similar argument in a note to me in 1998 (he's EP, or was then, but found the line of argument unsound; he linked the necessity to understand psalms as "praise" in WCF 21.5 to explain the other scripture song project initiated by the Scots the same time they were refining the WA's psalter, which eventually became the 1650 Scottish Psalter; he later conceded to me as we both were exposed to the MSS in working with Chad Van Dixhoorn, that lack of capitalization was not a sound argument). The most prominent online source I am guessing originates with Stephen Pribble in his 2001 article, though it could be he uses the argument without crediting a printed source, especially if Dr. Ward was making it a few years earlier. You could conceivably get away with hypotheticals about lower case psalms since few had seen the manuscripts or first printed texts of the assembly's productions nor understood that one cannot rule out printer's doing either case willy nilly depending on their available type or druthers, since printers hand the primary hand in these things not the authors.

Scott Clark has said, "I searched about 114 orthodox Reformed texts (from Junius, Perkins, Bucanus, Cartwright, Twisse, Gilespie, Diodati, Paraeus) from 1600 to 1640 and found no obvious evidence of psalm used to include an extra-canonical song." https://heidelblog.net/2014/09/what-did-the-divines-mean-by-psalms/

Pribble's article is still up there without any modification so it of course lays seeds of that thought, gets repeated, etc. and those happy with that never look further, though folks have been rebutting this argument for nearly the same amount of time this idea has found currency.
I'm honestly a bit confused as to how/when the term "psalms" became ambiguous, imprecise, or unclear. Is it really considered unclear?

Our pastor says to "turn to the psalms", not to "turn to the book of 150 psalms in the Bible, many of which were penned by David and in case any of you were confused I don't mean Maranatha or the Trinity Hymnal."
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I see Dr. Ward is still making the argument for psalms=praises but not tied to capitalization. https://books.google.com/books?id=d...hristian Worship"&pg=PA38#v=onepage&q&f=false
My guess is that it originated with late 20th century back and forth over exclusive psalmody; was the Westminster assembly an assembly of exclusive psalmodists? etc. Rowland Ward made a similar argument in a note to me in 1998 (he's EP, or was then, but found the line of argument unsound; he linked the necessity to understand psalms as "praise" in WCF 21.5 to explain the other scripture song project initiated by the Scots the same time they were refining the WA's psalter, which eventually became the 1650 Scottish Psalter; he later conceded to me as we both were exposed to the MSS in working with Chad Van Dixhoorn, that lack of capitalization was not a sound argument). The most prominent online source I am guessing originates with Stephen Pribble in his 2001 article, though it could be he uses the argument without crediting a printed source, especially if Dr. Ward was making it a few years earlier. You could conceivably get away with hypotheticals about lower case psalms since few had seen the manuscripts or first printed texts of the assembly's productions nor understood that one cannot rule out printer's doing either case willy nilly depending on their available type or druthers, since printers hand the primary hand in these things not the authors.

Scott Clark has said, "I searched about 114 orthodox Reformed texts (from Junius, Perkins, Bucanus, Cartwright, Twisse, Gilespie, Diodati, Paraeus) from 1600 to 1640 and found no obvious evidence of psalm used to include an extra-canonical song." https://heidelblog.net/2014/09/what-did-the-divines-mean-by-psalms/

Pribble's article is still up there without any modification so it of course lays seeds of that thought, gets repeated, etc. and those happy with that never look further, though folks have been rebutting this argument for nearly the same amount of time this idea has found currency.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior

For what it's worth, Bower's recent critical text of the Westminster Confession has "Psalms" capitalized in the manuscript, the 1646, and 1647 printing, and therefore in his critical edition. Obviously capitalization was a bit more...random back then, but it apparently wasn't intentionally uncapitalized like some seem to think.

Photo Sep 30, 7 04 33 PM.jpg Photo Sep 30, 7 04 39 PM.jpg
 
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kodos

Puritan Board Junior
Interesting find by Logan.

Dr. Bower allowed our class to look at an original edition of the Confession which was given to the Divines to review for the sake of approving the Scripture proofs (you can see that whoever had this copy at the Assembly started jotting down the proofs as they were discussed in the margin). Wish I had a chance to look at "Psalms". But Dr. Bower surely does have access to the resources required to make that determination. Maybe I will email him later when I get a chance and get his thoughts.

1601572960353.png
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
10 or 15 years or more ago Chad Van Dixhoorn expressed that it would be nice to find copies of the Confession or Catechism where one of the divines wrote in the margin the scripture references as they were approved (and were instructed to do by the chair I think). I guess John found one! is this one of the 600 for the Assembly, parliament, etc.? Not sure what info would be at singing of psalms other than the actual references if that copy is complete, but worth checking out I think. Now I assume the provenance proves this was a copy marked up by a divine and not later marked up by someone who had an early copy and thought, this needs the scripture references?
Interesting find by Logan.

Dr. Bower allowed our class to look at an original edition of the Confession which was given to the Divines to review for the sake of approving the Scripture proofs (you can see that whoever had this copy at the Assembly started jotting down the proofs as they were discussed in the margin). Wish I had a chance to look at "Psalms". But Dr. Bower surely does have access to the resources required to make that determination. Maybe I will email him later when I get a chance and get his thoughts.

View attachment 7457
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
10 or 15 years or more ago Chad Van Dixhoorn expressed that it would be nice to find copies of the Confession or Catechism where one of the divines wrote in the margin the scripture references as they were approved (and were instructed to do by the chair I think). I guess John found one! is this one of the 600 for the Assembly, parliament, etc.? Not sure what info would be at singing of psalms other than the actual references if that copy is complete, but worth checking out I think. Now I assume the provenance proves this was a copy marked up by a divine and not later marked up by someone who had an early copy and thought, this needs the scripture references?

It is my understanding that this was marked up by a Divine as instructed by the Assembly.... and proving, once again, that they were sinners like us -- the scripture proofs seemed to "Peter out" as you get further into this copy of the Confession. It is my recollection from the class that Dr. Bower did not know which divine, exactly, had this copy. And yes, this is supposed to be one of the 600 made for the Assembly and Parliament.
 
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JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
For what it's worth I think my 1788 edition of the standards illustrates that the Psalms were intended whether a capital was used or not. Indeed it may be said on the evidence that when the collection of the Psalms was in mind they used the capital but when a particular psalm was in mind they used a small 'p'.

Exhibit A - the worship paragraph from the confession has small 'p'.
IMG_20201001_203539.jpg
Exhibit B & C - in the Directory in the paragraph "of Publick Reading of the Holy Scriptures" we have two occurrences one with 'P' when the book is referred to, but small 'p' when one particular psalm is in mind.
IMG_20201001_203405.jpg IMG_20201001_203434.jpg
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The 1645 edition of the directory has Psalms in both places; and as noted already the MS and the first printing of the Confession is also Psalms. By 1788 so many printers had had a go at the text it cannot be assumed that such later editions represent the original printings as far as capitalization.
For what it's worth I think my 1788 edition of the standards illustrates that the Psalms were intended whether a capital was used or not. Indeed it may be said on the evidence that when the collection of the Psalms was in mind they used the capital but when a particular psalm was in mind they used a small 'p'.

Exhibit A - the worship paragraph from the confession has small 'p'.
View attachment 7458
Exhibit B & C - in the Directory in the paragraph "of Publick Reading of the Holy Scriptures" we have two occurrences one with 'P' when the book is referred to, but small 'p' when one particular psalm is in mind.
View attachment 7459View attachment 7460
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
The 1645 edition of the directory has Psalms in both places; and as noted already the MS and the first printing of the Confession is also Psalms. By 1788 so many printers had had a go at the text it cannot be assumed that such later editions represent the original printings as far as capitalization.

Agreed, but the 2nd and 3rd instances prove that lower case 'p' does not indicate ambiguity.
 
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