The playing of instruments during the collection of tithes/offerings and the Regulative Principle of

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Dan...., Jul 4, 2006.

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  1. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    In essentially every society of which I am aware, and certainly ours in the 21st century, it is common action to almost always accompany vocals with instrumentation in one form or another.

    But we're not talking about basing our general practices, policies and system after the society's standard - we're talking about common, everyday actions that may or may not have other actions regularly tied to them (e.g. microphones tied to speech, instruments tied to music, etc.); and in that regard I honestly fail to see how the papacy example relates in any way.

    Furthermore, what I was wondering when I made the analogy is how it can not be "OK" - for why can the legitimate aids for preaching a sermon and staying through a sermon be determined simply by asking about common culture's practices of speaking and sitting in general, but the legitimate aids for singing praise to God cannot be determined simply by asking about common culture's practice of singing in general (since you seem to be saying it can only be determined if singing specifically to God was a common cultural practice)?
  2. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The pleasure is mutual. :handshake: I would have thought an American board would have a high five smiley. Obviously some British oppression continues. ;)
  3. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    This is not the point. The action has to be common to a society as a society. A society may or may not sing. If the WCF allows for circumstances as long as they can be found in a majority of societies, then it denies the RPW which it avows in 21:2.

    The point of raising the papacy was to indicate that your understanding of actions common to societies cannot be right, for otherwise it would let in all sorts of things. Remember that the Confession speaks of government as well as worship.

    Cultural practice? I see now that this is the root of the problem. The Confession isn't referring to things that are cultural. It is speaking of what pertains to a society of people, namely, how they organise themselves as a society.
  4. Dan....

    Dan.... Puritan Board Sophomore

    First a question for the non-instrumentalists:
    In the quotations that Andrew provided, John L. Girardeau said the following:

    What does he mean by the "decorous performance?" Is not singing with instrumentation a "decorous performance"?

    Girardeau quotes Thornwell concerning decorum:

    What does Thornwell mean by, "Circumstances are those concomitants of an action without which it either cannot be done at all, or cannot be done with decency and decorum."?

    Now for the instrumentalists:

    A quote from Girardeau for the instrumentalists to work through:

    For one to hold to the RPW while at the same time allowing for instrumental accompaniment while singing, one must either prove that the singing of psalms/hymns and the performance of instrumental music are not two distinct acts, or prove that the express command for the one act is necessarily accompanied with the allowance of the other act.

    This seems to be the crux of the situation. If we cannot show that singing and instrumental accompaniment are the same act, nor if we can show how the one act is circumstantial (i.e., without which the other cannot be performed) to the other, then we cannot allow for the use of the non-commanded act.

    [Edited on 7-11-2006 by Dan....]
  5. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    I don't accept that they are two distinct acts. He is not treating instrumental music in that quote as a circumstance but, rather, an element in worship.

    If "action" is the thing that excludes a circumstance from being performed with an element then all circumstances that involved any action while the element was being performed would be excluded. The distribution of the elements is distinct from the Lord's Supper so does that mean it is mutually excluded?

    It's also only true if he presents Scripture to support his assertion. He provides none.
  6. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis


    I would imagine Girardeau is referring to a necessary action being done in a decent and orderly way, e.g., dress.


    Can I test the thesis that they are not two different actions? Does the person who plays the mechanical instrument sing? Do you believe, if they are able to sing, that they can do so with the same degree of concentration on what is being sung than the person who is not playing an instrument? If not, then they are not singing with the understanding as per the requirement of the commandment. They may as well not be singing, and perhaps it would be better if they didn't. In which case, there are two distinct actions taking place. In order to play the instrument, the duty of singing is being left undone.

  7. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    30 posts overnight!:eek: I wasn't keeping up as it was.[​IMG]

    I still think splitting the thread was a good idea as the general subject is more important than this one specific and one good thread to point to in future I think would have been profitable. In any event, I hope the conversation stays on track and much that is profitable is covered.
  8. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Overnight for you. Sleep is for the weak. Pastor Winzer and I were very much awake while you were sleeping. ;)
  9. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I'm a semi-experienced guitar player. I can sing and play guitar with an equal (if not more) focus on the words sung.

    I'm not sure how profitable my comments are from this point. I'm going to bow out for a while. I really do appreciate the give and take here. I know this issue can be emotional for some and I appreciate the grace offered for the proponents of a classic RPW. It helps me understand the historic position.
  10. Dan....

    Dan.... Puritan Board Sophomore

    I asked my wife this question. She has a Masters in Music and teaches piano for a profession (in other words, she has been playing piano all her life and, in my opinion, is very good at it). She says that the norm is that a pianist does not sing while playing. She only sings when she knows the music and the words very well, and then without the same concentration on the words as she would when not playing. I'll concede you this point. The accompanist probably isn't focusing as much on singing as he/she is on playing.

    [Edited on 7-11-2006 by Dan....]
  11. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    This would seem to me to be a pretty serious concession then, as far as the appropriateness of choosing to use musical accompaniment to "aid" the singing in worship over other means that at least don't negate everyone participating to their fullest (as they should) in the worship of God. Granting for the sake of argument they are not ruled out by other factors as already noted (which we have been asked not to discuss...;)).
  12. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I used to play the piano for services. When I was being instructed in this many years ago I was told, "Play the words, not just the music!" As such, I would contend, I knew the words and meant them every bit as much as those who sang the words, even though I was not so accomplished that I could sing along. As a matter of fact, it would be my job to know the words better than the congregation. And I made it my business to do just that.

    It is still my habit, even though I do not play an instrument during the worship service anymore, to look up all the stanzas of the songs we are scheduled to sing during a service, to read them carefully, and to meditate upon them. I am going to be singing them in worship, so I had better know the words that I will be singing.

    Because we usually sing several verses to one particular song setting, the words of each stanza plays differently with the same melody line, and the harmony sometimes also comes out in different flavours. This too adds to the the expressing of them. These also provide for meditation. I can learn from these and attend to how I may employ these "flavours" in my personal practice in music at home. Sometimes it is helpful to the words to use a different chord, changed ever so slightly by augmenting or suspending a note, or just changing from a major chord to a minor chord. In short, an instrument is itself a very involved study in music, following the mandate to bring it too into subjection to the glory of God.

    It seems to me that Augustine also has something to say concerning "things", how they are used. The difference that he points to (in his On Christian Doctrine) is that one may use a thing to serve God, or one may use a thing to serve himself. This distinguishes how a Christian uses a thing and how a non-Christian uses that same thing. For all men have all things in common. This, as I think, is a bigger problem in the churches concerning instruments than the problem of whether or not the playing of them is prohibited. We could go on for years at this discussion, and still not resolve the issue; but on the frivolous and unthoughtful, an unworshipful use of instruments, we may be quite agreed. I would suggest that some forms of music, whether with or without instrumentation, are in themselves very narrow-minded, and focused upon ourselves rather than upon God. When it comes to present-day problems with music in the churches, I think this is the over-riding one in our time. Augustine's comparison seems fitting to me.
  13. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Great point John. It brings me great joy to see you posting on the board again. I missed you.
  14. blhowes

    blhowes Puritan Board Professor

  15. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I agree with Chris that this is fairly significant. What do you think, Dan? Hopefully we're all awake. :)
  16. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis


    To date folk have been arguing for the circumstantial use of mechanical instruments in worship. I wonder if your statement, "the unworshipful use of instruments," does'nt incorporate that. By making the instrument worshipful, doesn't it enter into the essence of worship?
  17. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    People don't bring in their own piano or organ to play during the offertory. They use the one that's already there. So the question, it seems to me, is not the instrument, but rather the person playing it. Someone may surely like to play the piece that he has down pat, and that he can play with all his heart; and another may do the same. But it is the heart that can be different in these cases. One may play worshipfully, and unmistakably be taken as being worshipful; while another's playing may be taken as less than worshipful.

    There are two things, at least, to think about in each case: the player's attitude; and the congregation's attitude. A lack in either one's worshipful approach may lead an observer to think that something is amiss in worship. It is not the instrument's fault in either case. But it certainly can be the case that an instrument may be played worshipfully. Yet it is still a thing, a circumstance: a Biblically undefined particular of the essence of worship. A piano or organ is merely a recognized and traditionally established circumstance in that respect, defined by practice and policy and indirect commandment rather than by direct commandment.
  18. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    John, thankyou for your reply. I am wondering what "worshipful" is. Is it possible to show worship in something that is not an act of worship? In other words, are you saying that a person can worship by playing a mechanical instrument? Please note, I am not speaking about generic all-of-life worship, but specific acts-of-devotion worship. Thankyou for your time.
  19. Dan....

    Dan.... Puritan Board Sophomore

    Actually, I might be willing to concede a whole lot more, but at this time it might be wiser for me to bow out until I've discuss this doctrine more with my elders.

    Let's just say that this discussion has been eye opening for myself.

    Thanks to all who have posted.

    [Edited on 7-12-2006 by Dan....]
  20. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I'm with Andrew & Dan here, in that I'm also not that willing to get mixed up in the discussion. But a fair question is a fair question. So I hope you don't mind if I answer in a way that evades getting involved in the discussion.

    In the vein of Abraham Kuyper, it is a Calvinistic endeavour to not only make instruments, but to make them very well. For whatever one does, one does it to the glory of God. It is a worship in the vocation of everyday life. In the same way, a beautifully made instrument ought to be played as well as possible, bringing the most of it out in the music made from it. Kuyper would call that the Calvinistic way to do it. Schaeffer would agree.

    In worship the singing of songs are clearly a commanded element. Instruments are a necessary circumstance to that. It can be done well, or it can be done poorly. There is a difference in the worshipful attitude of the player. Of course an instrument can be played worshipfully or unworshipfully, in any place that it is played. Those, in fact, are the only two options; for the only thing that is indifferent is the instrument. The Calvinistic way (to go back to Kuyper's use of the term) is to do it with all one's heart to the glory of God. That not only applies to "generic all-of-life worship" but also to " specific acts-of-devotion worship"; but clearly it would apply to the latter that much more if it applied to the former at all. To Kuyper it would be unthinkable that it would not apply to the former.

    Remember, the instrument is indifferent all by itself. A fine instrument in my hands is not as well played as the same fine instrument in the hands of someone more skilled than myself. But I do my best to play it worshipfully at all times. It is unthinkable for me not to do so. I cannot be indifferent to music when it comes to singing or playing music, for I do it before the Lord in my home; therefore that much more before His throne of grace in public worship. In my view of things, I would question whether there is ever a time when music is neither worshipful nor unworshipful, but indifferent to it. I cannot fathom that concept. Yes, the instrument itself is indifferent, for it does not play itself; but put a person onto that instrument, and that makes all the difference, the excellence of the instrument, whether good or bad, notwithstanding.

    So, is it possible to show worship in something that is not an act of worship? Can a person worship by playing a mechanical instrument? I can see no other way open to consideration. One is either deliberately worshipful or one is deliberately unworshipful; but the use of music in the hands and heart of the musician is hardly indifferent to worship. He can be for it or against it, but he cannot be neither.

    (I am appealing to Kuyper because of his use of the term, and because he was a champion of taking everything into subjection to the kingship of Christ; not because I agree with everything he taught on the matter. I myself would be much more sparing in my use of the term "Calvinism" than he was, especially in matters of church doctrine. But the times and circumstances were different back then, so that may make up for the difference. Here I use it as he would have, not as I would like to, just to make a point more readily understandable.)

    [Edited on 7-12-2006 by JohnV]
  21. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    I have not waded through the whole thread so I'm sure someone has suggested this. Still, it seems that the OT especially gives warrant to the playing of instruments without singing as an expression of praise to the Lord. Some would argue that this was linked to Temple worship and, therefore, abolished in Christ. Nevertheless, one could just as easily point out that the singing of Psalms was linked to Old Covenant/Temple worship and should be abolished. It seems to me you can't have it both ways.
  22. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Well opinions are like noses--everybody has them. I like these:;)

  23. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    16th century anti-catholic polemics. I remain unimpressed.
  24. Dan....

    Dan.... Puritan Board Sophomore

    Andrew, (or anyone else):

    I appreciate the quotes you listed concerning the unlawfulness instrumental music.

    I was wondering if you might have more handy, and especially from men who were not exclusive psalmody. (I know, it shouldn't matter, but hearing it from non-EP's of the Reformed tradition might be considered a stronger argument amongst non-EP'ers).

    Also, if someone could list some non-EP/non-instrumentalists (and a source), it would helpful.

    I'll start the list with Charles Spurgeon:

  25. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  26. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    John B. Adger was also a Southern Presbyterian acappella hymn singer.
    A Denial Of Divine Right For Organs In Public Worship.
    Sorry, never got around to putting this up in html.
  27. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Dan -- You may be interested to see my comments on this previous thread. I cited a compilation of early Christian views contra instruments in worship, as well as a several quotes from the book Old Light on New Worship by John Price, a Baptist, and a variety of other sources. Brian Schwertley's article on the subject has a lot of quotes too. John Girardeau quotes from many eminent sources and is quotable, on musical instruments, as I have cited already, and Robert Dabney wrote in support of him.

    As an aside, there is an ancedote of interest at the Hampden-Sidney college website concerning the fact that Dabney built the chapel there according to specifications designed to keep out a church organ. The chapel was later modified to let an organ in after his death.

    It's also worth looking at Robert Nevin's classic treatment on Instrumental Music in Christian Worship, John Kennedy on The Introduction of Instrumental Music, Alexander Blaikie's Catechism on Praise (see the thread cited above) and James Begg's Anarchy in Worship.

    [Edited on 7-12-2006 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  28. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  29. BaptistCanuk

    BaptistCanuk Puritan Board Sophomore

    I don't find it distracting during preparation for offerings and communion. I prefer no music during communion but in the preparation process, I find it to be a good thing.
  30. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    How about early church anti-heathen polemic. Now that is impressive! :)

    Clement denounces the pagan use of instruments in their festivals:

    "The Spirit, distinguishing from such revelry the divine service, sings: "˜Praise him with the sound of trumpet,´ for with sound of trumpet he shall raise the dead. "˜Praise him on the psaltery,´ for the tongue is the psaltery of the Lord; "˜And praise him with the timbrel and the dance,´ refers to the church meditating on the resurrection of the dead. "˜Praise him on the chords and organ.´ Our body he calls an organ, and its nerves are the strings by which it has received harmonious tension, and when struck by the Spirit, it gives forth human voices. "˜Praise him on the clashing cymbals.´ He calls the tongue the cymbal of the mouth, which resounds with the pulsation of the lips... The one instrument of peace, the word alone by which we honour God, is what we employ. We no longer employ the ancient psaltery and trumpet, and timbrel, and flute."

    "Formerly when those of the circumcision worshipped God in ordinances which were symbols and figures of things to come, it was not out of place to sing hymns to God with the psaltery and lyre, and to do this on the sabbath day... But we in an inward manner keep the part of the Jew, according to the saying of the Apostle (Rom. 3:28)... We render our hymn with a living psaltery, a living lyre, in our spiritual songs. For the unison song of the people of Christ is more pleasing to God than any musical instrument. Thereby in all the churches of God with one mind and heart, with unity and agreement in faith and worship we offer to God a unison melody in our singing of Psalms. Such psalmodies and spiritual lyres we are wont to use, since the Apostle teaches this, saying, "˜In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.´ By another interpretation the lyre might be the whole body, by whose movements and deeds the soul offers its appropriate hymn to God."

    "œIf you enter into the sacred chorus of God you will be able to stand by David himself. There is no need of lyre there, nor of stretched strings nor plectrum, nor of musical skill, nor of any instruments. But if you choose, you will make yourself the lyre, putting to death the members of the flesh, and making a great harmony of the body with the soul."

    On Psalm 144:
    "œ"˜Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praise to thee,´ that is, I will give thanks to thee. Then there were instruments with which they offered up their songs, but now instead of instruments the body is to be used. For now we sing also with the eyes, not with the tongue alone, and with the hands, and the feet, and the ears. For when each one of these members does that which brings God glory and praise ... the members of the body become a psaltery and lyre, and sing a new song, not with words, but with deeds."

    On Psalm 149:
    "œMany people take the mention of these instruments allegorically and say that the timbrel requires the putting to death of our flesh, and that the psaltery requires us to look up to heaven (for this instrument resounds from above, not from below like the lyre). But I would say this, that in olden times they were thus led by these instruments because of the dullness of their understanding and their recent deliverance from idols. Just as God allowed animal sacrifices, so also he let them have these instruments, condescending to help their weakness."

    On Psalm 150:
    "œTherefore, just as the Jews are commanded to praise God with all musical instruments, so we are commanded to praise him with all our members "“ the eye, the tongue, the ear, the hand. Paul makes this clear when he says, "˜Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual service.´ The eye praises when it does not gaze licentiously, the tongue when it sings, the ear when it does not listen to wicked songs and accusations against a neighbour, the mind when it does not devise treachery, but abounds in love, the feet when they do not run to do evil, but to carry out good works, the hands when they are stretched out, not for robbery and grasping and blows, but to give alms and to protect those who are wronged. Then man becomes a tuneful lyre, offering up to God a harmonious and spiritual melody. Those instruments were then allowed because of the weakness of the people, to train them to love and harmony, and to stir up their mind to do with pleasure the things that bring profit, for God wished through this sort of persuasion to bring them to a great zeal for him. For knowing their base and careless and indolent nature, God employed craft to arouse them from sleep, mixing the sweetness of melody with the toil of service."

    "œQuestions and Answers to the Orthodox:"

    "œQuestion: If songs were invented by unbelievers to seduce men, but were allowed to those under the law on account of their childish state, why do those who have received the perfect teaching of grace in their churches still use songs, just like the children under the law?
    Answer: It is not simple singing that belongs to the childish state, but singing with lifeless instruments, with dancing, and with clappers. Hence the use of such instruments and the others that belong to the childish state is excluded from the singing in the churches, and simple singing is left. For it awakens the soul to a fervent desire for that which is described in the songs, it quiets the passions that arise from the flesh, it removes the evil thoughts that are implanted in us by invisible foes, it waters the soul to make it fruitful in the good things of God, it makes the soldiers of piety strong to endure hardships, it becomes for the pious a medicine to cure all the pains of life. Paul calls this "˜the sword of the spirit,´ with which he arms the soldiers of piety against their unseen foes. For it is the word of God, and when it is pondered and sung and proclaimed it has the power to drive out demons."

    "œ"˜Praise him with psaltery and harp...´ These instruments the Levites formerly used when praising God in the temple. It was not because God enjoyed their sound, but because he accepted the purpose of their worship. For to show that God does not find pleasure in songs nor in the notes of instruments we hear him saying to the Jews: "˜Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs, for I will not hear the melody of thy instruments.´ He allowed these things to be done for the reason that he wished to free them from the deception of idols. For since some of them were fond of play and laughter, and all these things were done in the temples of idols, he allowed these things in order to entice them. He used the lesser evil in order to forbid the greater, and used what was imperfect to teach what was perfect."

    "œOn the Healing of Greek Afflictions:"
    "œSo it was not in any need of victims or craving odours that God commanded them to sacrifice, but that he might heal the sufferings of those who were sick. So he also allowed the use of instrumental music, not that he was delighted by the harmony, but that he might little by little end the deception of idols. For if he had offered them perfect laws immediately after their deliverance from Egypt, they would have been rebellious and thrust away from the bridle, and would have hastened back to their former ruin."

    Augustine, Sermon on Psalm 33:2:
    "œ"˜Confess to the Lord with the harp,´ that is, confess to the Lord presenting your bodies to him as a living sacrifice. "˜Sing praises to him with the psaltery of ten strings,´ that is, let your members be subject to the love of God and love of your neighbor, in which the three and seven commandments are kept."
    "œ"˜Confess to the Lord with the harp, sing praises to him with the psaltery of ten strings´ "“ these are the words we were just now singing, expressing them with one voice, and teaching your hearts. Has not a rule been established in the name of Christ with reference to those "˜vigils´ of yours, that harps (citharae, that is, lyres) should be excluded from this place? And here the order is given to play those instruments "“ "˜Confess to the Lord with the harp, sing praises to him with the psaltery of ten strings.´ But let no one turn his heart to the instruments of the theatre. Each one has in himself the instruments which are commanded, as it is elsewhere said: "˜In me, O Lord, are the vows of praise which I shall return to thee.´"

    On Psalm 150:
    "œ"˜Praise the Lord in his saints.´ These very saints are thereafter meant in all the musical instruments. "˜Praise him with the sound of the trumpet,´ on account of its surpassing clearness. "˜Praise him with psaltery and harp.´ The psaltery is one praising God for things above, the harp one praising him for things below; that is, for heavenly and earthly things, seeing that God made heaven and earth. On another psalm we have already explained that the psaltery has its sounding wood above, to which the series of strings is attached in order to give a better sound, while the harp (cithara) has the wod beneath."
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