What are Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs?

What are Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs?

  • Types of Psalms in the Psalter

    Votes: 31 40.3%
  • Categories of songs

    Votes: 46 59.7%

  • Total voters
    77
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au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
There is the claim that Paul takes from the LXX translation, and borrows the terms those translators (of the Hebrew) borrowed, and uses them as TECHNICAL TERMS in Eph/Col when he enjoins the Christian use of "Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs." The argument goes: these verses use these three terms, but only refer to "different sorts of musical forms found in the Psalter." This argument rests on the apriori that Paul's use of these terms is a self-conscious borrowing of the language of a translation to make a theological point.
My understanding of the argument is not that Paul is borrowing from the LXX, but that the LXX's usage of "hymn" in reference to psalms demonstrates that the Jews of the time did not always and only use "hymn" in reference to non-psalms. We don't even need the LXX for this. This can also be demonstrated from the New Testament.

In other words, both Paul and the LXX are using the word "hymn" in a manner common to Jews, or so the argument goes. If you were walking out of synagogue on the sabbath you might have said, "I really enjoyed the hymns today," in reference to the psalms. The LXX is brought into play not because Paul is supposed to have quoted it or borrowed terms from it, but merely because it demonstrates that this was a legitimate usage of the word "hymn."
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Austin,
That's a different, albeit related argument. If the argument is presented as you've stated it, then it would appear the point made is that Paul in Eph/Col just says the same thing, either two or three times, using two/three overlapping (full or partial) terms. The non-EP argument isn't that "hymn" must, assuredly, mean "not a canonical psalm." The question is "does hymn in Eph/Col ref. the Psalter, in whole or in part?"

The technical argument from the LXX appeals directly to three terms (psalmos, hymnos, odes) which are found in the translations of the headings, being used for terms like "mizmor" "shiyr" etc., and stipulates that Paul uses the terms not overlapping, but as borrowed from a common Greek version of Scripture. This understanding has plausibility, however, it is not intuitively apparent that even church people would have been alert to this sort of use, especially when the same terms were used in many different situations in everyday life. Furthermore, those three are not even the only terms used in translating the headings.

In the absence of literary evidence that speaks otherwise, it seems to me more intuitive to expect the "average 1st cent. church-goer" to assume that Paul meant by psalmos the entire canonical collection, because as with our own Bibles, this is the name of the collection. I am strongly inclined to think that "spiritual songs (odais pneumatikais)" is another reference to poetic ecstatic utterance, a species of the prophetic gift (and no, I don't think that Paul must always have used one description every time he referenced such a thing, ala 1Cor.14, because these weren't technical terms). So far, that covers inspired canon, and inspired NT prophet. That would leave, in the case of Eph/Col, the middle term, hymnos. And as I said, it isn't intuitively apparent to me that "hymns" in this place is most likely just a repeat expression of the "psalms". :2cents:
 
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CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Hi:

Pastor Bruce:

It does not seem to me that one has to commit oneself to the LXX as inspired in order to show that the LXX uses the terms in Eph/Col to refer to the Psalter. Pastor Greco is willing to use Homer and Aeschylus' use of the terms in order to help determine the meaning of Scripture. Why is it evil in the sight of non-EP'ers to use the LXX? - A translation, by the way, in which the Greek speaking Christians were probably using. In my humble opinion, it seems to me that the LXX would exert more of an influence in the Greek speaking Church than secular writers.

The use of ᾠδὴ to refer to the Psalms - these are literal translations out of the Masoretic Text:

Ps 133:1 - a song of degrees of David
Ps 132:1 - a song of degrees of David
Ps 108:1 - a song or Psalm of David

The use of "hymns" in the Psalter:

Psalm 72:20 - the Hebrew word תְפִלּ֑וֹת is translated "hymns" in the LXX, but the literal meaning is "prayers." Are we to entirely neglect this simply because the LXX is not inspired? If the GHT form of interpretation is correct, then it seems to me that we should consider the LXX use of "ὕμνοις" (hymns) as relevant. To the Greeks, it would seem, that "hymns" are prayer songs. The Homeric hymns, by the way, can be considered prayers and praises to the various gods of the pagan Greeks. It seems to me that the word "hymn" in the Greek describes the prayers and praises of the Psalter.

Then we look at the context of Eph/Col, "let the Word of God dwell in your heart" and it seems clear that we are not to let the "word of man" dwell in our heart. Consequently, one thinks of the Psalter as it is the inspired Word of God.

I know that in the 1800's when the transition from Psalms to "hymns" was happening that those who argued for "hymns" were implying that the Christian's freedom was being impinged upon by the use of Exclusive Psalmody. That free expression of self in the worship of God was the issue, and that the Psalms alone do not promote such worship. The issue became an emotional one for most people, but the question still remains:

Where is the careful exegesis that teaches that "hymns" in Eph/Col means "uninspired songs"?

It is not enough to attempt to tear down the arguments of the EP'ers - you have to show that your interpretation of Scripture is the right one.

The question has still not been answered: How does the Scriptural use of the term "hymns" mean "uninspired songs"?

Blessings,

Rob

Another issue I have with the argument that views the LXX as setting the interpretive standard for Pauline usage, is that it contains 151 Psalms, including the "supernumerary" at the end.

In other words, when it comes to the superscriptions, I am asked to commit to them as though they definitively speak to the meaning of the Eph/Col passages. But where "the original church hymnal" contains an uninspired composition, I am assured that the LXX carries no weight in whether that song should be sung.

I cannot commit to the first as though the question was settled, while at the same time with regard to the second I have serious reservations about supplemental inclusion elsewhere in the same body of text. The presence of "Psalm" 151 vitiates my confidence in the perspicacity of the translators, and the conclusion that they created technical terms that become the assured template for knowing Paul's meaning in acknowledged Scripture. I am not persuaded that we are warranted in assuming Paul is specifically reflecting LXX usage in his use of terms. The ordinary meaning of the language must be taken into account, because the LXX itself is borrowing terms from local custom to translate a foreign text.
 

Bygracealone

Puritan Board Sophomore
Regarding Prof. Murray's views, is this assertion correct (from the OPC Q&A website)?:

"I might say that, in a sense, John Murray (with whom I experienced a real closeness during my seminary years and afterward) in private conversations with me disagreed with the Covenanter position that only the inspired psalms (of the book of Psalms) were proper for public worship. There are New Testament psalms as well, such as those in the nativity account in Luke 1 & 2 as well as such as are found in Revelation 4 & 5 and subsequent chapters. He felt that they were equally acceptable and had the advantage of inspired song from the New Covenant perspective."
Prof. Murray most certainly believed in EP. He was the one who wrote the minority report for the OPC when they were studying the matter. I don't know anything about these "private" conversations with Prof. Murray, so I can't confirm or deny what he might have said to this individual. However, in my opinion, it would be inconsistent to sing these other songs even if inspired for the mere fact that we lack the command from the Lord to sing them.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Hi:
Pastor Bruce:
Hi, Robert. I'm going to reply to your questions, but I already feel like I've been sucked into a debate that I'm not enthusiastic about. So, I don't plan on going back and forth on this at length.

It does not seem to me that one has to commit oneself to the LXX as inspired in order to show that the LXX uses the terms in Eph/Col to refer to the Psalter. Pastor Greco is willing to use Homer and Aeschylus' use of the terms in order to help determine the meaning of Scripture. Why is it evil in the sight of non-EP'ers to use the LXX? - A translation, by the way, in which the Greek speaking Christians were probably using. In my humble opinion, it seems to me that the LXX would exert more of an influence in the Greek speaking Church than secular writers.
I haven't suggested that this argument commits the error of attributing inspiration to a translation. Yes, the earlier LXX uses the Gk terms found in the later Eph/Col. But the LXX is by no means the only background to Paul. The LXX stands next to a plethora of literary remains of the day. Moreover, it does so as a translation borrowing from a cultural milieu that already uses the terms in question in a variety of ways. It isn't "evil" to refer to the LXX; however it is arbitrary to come to the conclusion that Paul is self-consciously choosing these terms from the LXX titles for no other reason than: they are found in the titles.

The use of ᾠδὴ to refer to the Psalms - these are literal translations out of the Masoretic Text:

Ps 133:1 - a song of degrees of David
Ps 132:1 - a song of degrees of David
Ps 108:1 - a song or Psalm of David
"Ode" is used in Dt.31, where God tells Moses to "put this song in the mouths of Israel." So, even if you think that the Psalter is the BEST choice for what you think Paul is referring to in Eph/Col, that decision can't even rule out other references in the same translation. It is a cumulative argument you are making, and the different parts of the argument are not definitive.

The use of "hymns" in the Psalter:
Psalm 72:20 - the Hebrew word תְפִלּ֑וֹת is translated "hymns" in the LXX, but the literal meaning is "prayers." Are we to entirely neglect this simply because the LXX is not inspired? If the GHT form of interpretation is correct, then it seems to me that we should consider the LXX use of "ὕμνοις" (hymns) as relevant. To the Greeks, it would seem, that "hymns" are prayer songs. The Homeric hymns, by the way, can be considered prayers and praises to the various gods of the pagan Greeks. It seems to me that the word "hymn" in the Greek describes the prayers and praises of the Psalter.
Here are some relevant texts for us:
Ps.6:1 Here hymnois translates "Neginoth" or in more modern translations, "stringed instruments."
Ps.54:1, the same
Ps.55:1, the same
Ps.61:1, the same
Ps.67:1, the same
Ps.100:4, it translates "into his courts with praise"
similarly, 2Chr.7:6, "And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood."

You mentioned hymnos translating "prayers," which is tephilot in Ps.72:20. And when the same tephila is given in Ps.17:1, it is given "Προσευχὴ," proseuke. But apparently, the argument goes, Paul in Eph/Col assuredly is using hymnos to refer to the prayers of the Psalter? I understand there is an argument to be made that Paul could be using the term in that manner. However, a sampling of the OT data in translation doesn't lead inexorably to that conclusion.

Bottom line--if one is already convinced of EP, then there is a legitimate method of reading Paul in Eph/Col that makes sense of his terminology, with reference to the Psalter. However, to try to press someone not convinced of EP that this is the best reading of Paul, by appealing to the Psalter in translation (to the LXX) is a vain appeal. It isn't convincing.


Then we look at the context of Eph/Col, "let the Word of God dwell in your heart" and it seems clear that we are not to let the "word of man" dwell in our heart. Consequently, one thinks of the Psalter as it is the inspired Word of God.
I certainly agree that we want the Word of God dwelling deeply in our hearts. however, which Word in context (Col.3:16) is first of all through teaching and admonishment, attending and meditating on the Word. That's the preached Word, with application; it's theology, it's not just reading the Bible.

And if the latter portion of the text is then constricted to the Psalter, that seems both unnatural to me, not to mention that if we set, for example, the Beatitudes to music in order to deepen our hearts with the Word, how strange is it that this verse would be saying nothing to that purpose? But, if the verse is saying (so far as music is concerned) that we begin with the Psalms as the foundation of our singing, but don't stop there, that makes a great deal of sense of the passage to me.

I know that in the 1800's when the transition from Psalms to "hymns" was happening that those who argued for "hymns" were implying that the Christian's freedom was being impinged upon by the use of Exclusive Psalmody. That free expression of self in the worship of God was the issue, and that the Psalms alone do not promote such worship. The issue became an emotional one for most people, but the question still remains:

Where is the careful exegesis that teaches that "hymns" in Eph/Col means "uninspired songs"? It is not enough to attempt to tear down the arguments of the EP'ers - you have to show that your interpretation of Scripture is the right one. The question has still not been answered: How does the Scriptural use of the term "hymns" mean "uninspired songs"?
You aren't going to hear those sorts of arguments against EP or in favor of Scriptural or theologically rich hymns of "human composition" from us today. So, an appeal to poor arguments from the past as a good enough reason to reject a practice is no more helpful than saying that RC arguments for infant-baptism are invalid, therefore the practice has a "corrupt basis" and should be rejected.

It's only "uncareful" exegesis when the hermeneutics applied haven't convinced you. You might be more charitable by saying that the exegetical proposals haven't and probably won't ever move you from your conviction. Which is fine, I both love the Psalms and those who love them exclusively (for worship). But I'm not convinced that Paul intended his hearers to connect his broad description of musical devotion to the Psalter exclusively.

A word-study alone will not decide the issue. I'm presently convinced the terms are used to "cover the field:" Psalms (principally, that is, as pre-recorded in revelation), Spiritual songs (as manifestation of the extraordinary gifts), and "hymns," which would cover "middle ground" between the limits of direct revelation. That exegesis may not convince you, however it isn't "uncareful." It simply hasn't begun with the understanding that if Paul is referring to worship-song, then he is just-so referring to the Psalter.

Likewise, Blessings to you.
Sincerely,
 

markkoller

Puritan Board Freshman
The question has still not been answered: How does the Scriptural use of the term "hymns" mean "uninspired songs"?
I don't believe this question will ever be answered by our dear brothers on the other side. Somehow "singing something in addition to the inspired Psalms" becomes "let's create our own songs". There is no command or permission granted to compose hymns for worship. If one is dissatisfied with the Psalms, it would seem the next logical step would be to try to prove that we have permission to sing other inspired songs found in Scripture. It always seems the logical (or illogical) leap is made from inspired Psalms to uninspired songs.
 

CalvinandHodges

Puritan Board Junior
Hi Pastor Bruce:

My high regard for you will not allow me to engage you in a conversation that you are not enthusiastic about. I think a few things need to be pointed out, and, if you wish, I will let you have the last word on this matter between us. I have to admit that I am a bit unsure of exactly how you and Pastor Greco are using the Historical aspect of the G-H-T. You wrote:

The LXX stands next to a plethora of literary remains of the day.
Which is very true, but how do these other "literary remains" affect the way we should understand the words in Eph/Col? From what I have gathered the Greeks were using the word "hymns" in the religious sense to mean inspired compositions. That is, they believed their poets were being inspired by the Muses in order to compose praise songs to their various deities. The pagans believed Homer was divinely inspired, See: Morgan, Llewelyn, Patterns of Redemption in Virgil's Georgics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1999, 30, and, Bloom, Harold, Homer, (Philadelphia: Chelsea House), 2006, 113. In other words: "hymns" when referring to religious songs were considered divinely inspired. The problem with the position that you are holding is that why would Paul not consider the term to mean something other than divinely inspired songs?

You mention that I am making a cumulative argument, and, though I may disagree with you on that, it would follow that the "different parts are not definitive" because when considered all together they are compelling. To try to pick apart a cumulative argument by pointing out the incompleteness of the parts does not address the argument as a whole.

If appealing to a Greek translation of the Psalter that was available and in use by the 1st Century Church as a means of demonstrating that the "culture" of the 1st Century understood these terms to mean the Psalter, then what would be convincing?

You note that the "teaching and admonishing" mentioned in Ephesians refers to preaching the word. I find that a bit of a stretch. Is this activity limited to pastor's only? I think that Paul is applying these verses to all Christians, and this would be consistent with his use of the term "Psalm" in 1 Cor 14 as well. We teach and admonish one another by singing Psalms one to another. This is beautifully illustrated by Mary singing 10 Psalms to Elizabeth when both were pregnant, and they met and had fellowship. Paul is speaking of teaching and admonishing one another by singing, but he does not say that it is through any kind of singing, but by the Psalms, Hymns, and Songs of the Word of God which dwells richly in you.

I did not intend to offend by using the term "careful." What I intended was that often people will associate the modern-day understanding of the term "hymns" in a 1st Century document, and then leave it at that. I do not believe that Paul was using the term "hymns" at his time to mean the same thing that we do today - thus, I would like to see a more "careful" reading of this passage.

What you have given me is how you understand the term hymns: ""hymns," which would cover "middle ground" between the limits of direct revelation." I would like to see how you came to this conclusion?

Blessings,

Rob

Hi:
Pastor Bruce:
Hi, Robert. I'm going to reply to your questions, but I already feel like I've been sucked into a debate that I'm not enthusiastic about. So, I don't plan on going back and forth on this at length.

It does not seem to me that one has to commit oneself to the LXX as inspired in order to show that the LXX uses the terms in Eph/Col to refer to the Psalter. Pastor Greco is willing to use Homer and Aeschylus' use of the terms in order to help determine the meaning of Scripture. Why is it evil in the sight of non-EP'ers to use the LXX? - A translation, by the way, in which the Greek speaking Christians were probably using. In my humble opinion, it seems to me that the LXX would exert more of an influence in the Greek speaking Church than secular writers.
I haven't suggested that this argument commits the error of attributing inspiration to a translation. Yes, the earlier LXX uses the Gk terms found in the later Eph/Col. But the LXX is by no means the only background to Paul. The LXX stands next to a plethora of literary remains of the day. Moreover, it does so as a translation borrowing from a cultural milieu that already uses the terms in question in a variety of ways. It isn't "evil" to refer to the LXX; however it is arbitrary to come to the conclusion that Paul is self-consciously choosing these terms from the LXX titles for no other reason than: they are found in the titles.

The use of ᾠδὴ to refer to the Psalms - these are literal translations out of the Masoretic Text:

Ps 133:1 - a song of degrees of David
Ps 132:1 - a song of degrees of David
Ps 108:1 - a song or Psalm of David
"Ode" is used in Dt.31, where God tells Moses to "put this song in the mouths of Israel." So, even if you think that the Psalter is the BEST choice for what you think Paul is referring to in Eph/Col, that decision can't even rule out other references in the same translation. It is a cumulative argument you are making, and the different parts of the argument are not definitive.

The use of "hymns" in the Psalter:
Psalm 72:20 - the Hebrew word תְפִלּ֑וֹת is translated "hymns" in the LXX, but the literal meaning is "prayers." Are we to entirely neglect this simply because the LXX is not inspired? If the GHT form of interpretation is correct, then it seems to me that we should consider the LXX use of "ὕμνοις" (hymns) as relevant. To the Greeks, it would seem, that "hymns" are prayer songs. The Homeric hymns, by the way, can be considered prayers and praises to the various gods of the pagan Greeks. It seems to me that the word "hymn" in the Greek describes the prayers and praises of the Psalter.
Here are some relevant texts for us:
Ps.6:1 Here hymnois translates "Neginoth" or in more modern translations, "stringed instruments."
Ps.54:1, the same
Ps.55:1, the same
Ps.61:1, the same
Ps.67:1, the same
Ps.100:4, it translates "into his courts with praise"
similarly, 2Chr.7:6, "And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood."

You mentioned hymnos translating "prayers," which is tephilot in Ps.72:20. And when the same tephila is given in Ps.17:1, it is given "Προσευχὴ," proseuke. But apparently, the argument goes, Paul in Eph/Col assuredly is using hymnos to refer to the prayers of the Psalter? I understand there is an argument to be made that Paul could be using the term in that manner. However, a sampling of the OT data in translation doesn't lead inexorably to that conclusion.

Bottom line--if one is already convinced of EP, then there is a legitimate method of reading Paul in Eph/Col that makes sense of his terminology, with reference to the Psalter. However, to try to press someone not convinced of EP that this is the best reading of Paul, by appealing to the Psalter in translation (to the LXX) is a vain appeal. It isn't convincing.


Then we look at the context of Eph/Col, "let the Word of God dwell in your heart" and it seems clear that we are not to let the "word of man" dwell in our heart. Consequently, one thinks of the Psalter as it is the inspired Word of God.
I certainly agree that we want the Word of God dwelling deeply in our hearts. however, which Word in context (Col.3:16) is first of all through teaching and admonishment, attending and meditating on the Word. That's the preached Word, with application; it's theology, it's not just reading the Bible.

And if the latter portion of the text is then constricted to the Psalter, that seems both unnatural to me, not to mention that if we set, for example, the Beatitudes to music in order to deepen our hearts with the Word, how strange is it that this verse would be saying nothing to that purpose? But, if the verse is saying (so far as music is concerned) that we begin with the Psalms as the foundation of our singing, but don't stop there, that makes a great deal of sense of the passage to me.

I know that in the 1800's when the transition from Psalms to "hymns" was happening that those who argued for "hymns" were implying that the Christian's freedom was being impinged upon by the use of Exclusive Psalmody. That free expression of self in the worship of God was the issue, and that the Psalms alone do not promote such worship. The issue became an emotional one for most people, but the question still remains:

Where is the careful exegesis that teaches that "hymns" in Eph/Col means "uninspired songs"? It is not enough to attempt to tear down the arguments of the EP'ers - you have to show that your interpretation of Scripture is the right one. The question has still not been answered: How does the Scriptural use of the term "hymns" mean "uninspired songs"?
You aren't going to hear those sorts of arguments against EP or in favor of Scriptural or theologically rich hymns of "human composition" from us today. So, an appeal to poor arguments from the past as a good enough reason to reject a practice is no more helpful than saying that RC arguments for infant-baptism are invalid, therefore the practice has a "corrupt basis" and should be rejected.

It's only "uncareful" exegesis when the hermeneutics applied haven't convinced you. You might be more charitable by saying that the exegetical proposals haven't and probably won't ever move you from your conviction. Which is fine, I both love the Psalms and those who love them exclusively (for worship). But I'm not convinced that Paul intended his hearers to connect his broad description of musical devotion to the Psalter exclusively.

A word-study alone will not decide the issue. I'm presently convinced the terms are used to "cover the field:" Psalms (principally, that is, as pre-recorded in revelation), Spiritual songs (as manifestation of the extraordinary gifts), and "hymns," which would cover "middle ground" between the limits of direct revelation. That exegesis may not convince you, however it isn't "uncareful." It simply hasn't begun with the understanding that if Paul is referring to worship-song, then he is just-so referring to the Psalter.

Likewise, Blessings to you.
Sincerely,
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Robert
In Essentials Unity, in non-Essentials Liberty, in all things Charity.
This suddenly seems to have become the motto in the Free Church of Scotland, especially among those that have got their way and are permitted now to use musical instruments and hymns in the stated services.

Whether the motto will cut the mustard remains to be seen.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Hi Pastor Bruce:

My high regard for you will not allow me to engage you in a conversation that you are not enthusiastic about. I think a few things need to be pointed out, and, if you wish, I will let you have the last word on this matter between us. I have to admit that I am a bit unsure of exactly how you and Pastor Greco are using the Historical aspect of the G-H-T. You wrote:

The LXX stands next to a plethora of literary remains of the day.
Which is very true, but how do these other "literary remains" affect the way we should understand the words in Eph/Col? From what I have gathered the Greeks were using the word "hymns" in the religious sense to mean inspired compositions. That is, they believed their poets were being inspired by the Muses in order to compose praise songs to their various deities. The pagans believed Homer was divinely inspired, See: Morgan, Llewelyn, Patterns of Redemption in Virgil's Georgics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1999, 30, and, Bloom, Harold, Homer, (Philadelphia: Chelsea House), 2006, 113. In other words: "hymns" when referring to religious songs were considered divinely inspired. The problem with the position that you are holding is that why would Paul not consider the term to mean something other than divinely inspired songs?

You mention that I am making a cumulative argument, and, though I may disagree with you on that, it would follow that the "different parts are not definitive" because when considered all together they are compelling. To try to pick apart a cumulative argument by pointing out the incompleteness of the parts does not address the argument as a whole.

If appealing to a Greek translation of the Psalter that was available and in use by the 1st Century Church as a means of demonstrating that the "culture" of the 1st Century understood these terms to mean the Psalter, then what would be convincing?

You note that the "teaching and admonishing" mentioned in Ephesians refers to preaching the word. I find that a bit of a stretch. Is this activity limited to pastor's only? I think that Paul is applying these verses to all Christians, and this would be consistent with his use of the term "Psalm" in 1 Cor 14 as well. We teach and admonish one another by singing Psalms one to another. This is beautifully illustrated by Mary singing 10 Psalms to Elizabeth when both were pregnant, and they met and had fellowship. Paul is speaking of teaching and admonishing one another by singing, but he does not say that it is through any kind of singing, but by the Psalms, Hymns, and Songs of the Word of God which dwells richly in you.

I did not intend to offend by using the term "careful." What I intended was that often people will associate the modern-day understanding of the term "hymns" in a 1st Century document, and then leave it at that. I do not believe that Paul was using the term "hymns" at his time to mean the same thing that we do today - thus, I would like to see a more "careful" reading of this passage.

What you have given me is how you understand the term hymns: ""hymns," which would cover "middle ground" between the limits of direct revelation." I would like to see how you came to this conclusion?

Blessings,

Rob
Hi Rob,
I'll just be short.

1) I don't think the inspiration of the muse has much in common with our idea of divine inspiration.

2) Calvin on Col.3:16 also sees the terms Paul employs as "covering the field" of music, although his precise conclusions as to what the passage refers differs from the one I proposed.

3) The counterexamples I gave from the LXX show that at the very least, the argument that Paul is referring to portions of the Psalter by terms must be taken as a whole (cumulative), since individually they have Scriptural use outside the Psalter. Moreover, I see no compelling reason why the three terms together would naturally suggest the Psalter as a whole. That proposal serves the EP argument, but not much else. And, making an appeal to "authority", if we stipulate that Calvin was EP, I don't think he would be convinced either.

4) I pressed the meaning of "teaching/admonishing" in Col.3:16 too far, ignoring the term "one another." Thank you for noting and criticizing. However, what is in view isn't simply quoting Scripture to one another, as convenient as that is. Nor do we meditate well on Scripture simply by rote memorization. The "richness" of the indwelling Word comes not only from "ingredients," but from the mixing of them, preparation, rumination and digestion. The metaphor pertains to "healthy" spiritual life. For them in olden days, the original means for acquiring the Word was most often in the gathered church, where the precious copies of the word were read and taught. Primarily in this fashion (although, I do not doubt that individuals with the means would write Scripture on scraps for their own use) the Word was "implanted." Only thereby could it come forth from and to "one another."

5) You are convinced that Mary sang specific selections from the Psalms? I won't try to unconvince you, since I have to believe that 1) they knew the Psalms, and 2) the expressions she sang are biblical and psalmnodic. However, there are also keen parallels to Hannah's song (an example of inter-textuality). Furthermore, it takes a precommittment to EP to wish to "take apart" the unified poetry of Mary's composition, as though it wasn't sung and preserved for us as she sang it. Is it lawful, in your estimation, to sing in worship ten separate verses of ten different Psalms strung together? I know there are those who would vehemently oppose this scheme, because it is obvious that it leads to singing theology, rather than the strict composition as presented.

For someone on the other side, Mary's song is precisely the example of the product of digestion and recombination of Scripture that we would expect from someone steeped in Scripture, having a gift for putting such things into poetry and music. Again, there is both a natural and a supernatural exhibition of such gifts. Sometimes, it seems as though we interpret Scripture in such a way that the ONLY way believers ever acted with respect to their gifts was in the supernatural way recorded (or because it was recorded) in Scripture.

6) Lastly, I reject the notion that all opposition to EP is ineluctably anti-Psalmnody, or anti-RPW. I say that the abuse of a thing is no argument against the lawful use of a thing. I don't have the persuasive power, or even the desire, to convince you against your conscience that it is the ordinary expression of God's gifts to take from Scripture generally and sing his praise in worship. I think that bad men and abuse of ministerial authority led the faithful church to an original restriction of song to the precise expressions in Scripture, and eventually still further restricted to the precise limits of the "Scripture's Songbook."

In certain respects, the Reformation widened song-practice when it returned singing to the congregation, following still further (in the opposite direction) abuse in the Middle Ages of restricting singing to the clergy. But I do not think that congregational EP was the definitive answer. And a lack of nuance in the answer given has led to the constant friction between more-restrictive and less-restrictive applications of the same general commitment to sola scriptura. Try to tell the old Dutch Reformers they may not sing Nunc Dimittis (Lk.2:29-32). Talk about a worship war...

I've concluded that "hymns" cover that middle ground, simply on the stock rendering of the term, combined with the fact that it is "sandwiched" in the middle of two terms which I think are more easily defined specifically (whether I have correctly identified those meanings, or not, is another question; again note Calvin on Col.3:16). The meanings I draw from the end-terms are pre-recorded (OT) direct revelation, and other (NT) direct revelation. It is because I do not equate "muse-inspired" with "divinely-inspired" notions. There's more in common with "inspiration" in the lowest sense between the pagan Greeks using their fertile imaginations, and Christians using the Bible.

Thanks for the conversation, Rob. I pray your preparation for the ministry continues and finishes well, and you are fit for serving Christ in his church.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Bruce
6) Lastly, I reject the notion that all opposition to EP is ineluctably anti-Psalmnody, or anti-RPW. I say that the abuse of a thing is no argument against the lawful use of a thing. I don't have the persuasive power, or even the desire, to convince you against your conscience that it is the ordinary expression of God's gifts to take from Scripture generally and sing his praise in worship. I think that bad men and abuse of ministerial authority led the faithful church to an original restriction of song to the precise expressions in Scripture, and eventually still further restricted to the precise limits of the "Scripture's Songbook."
I think this is taking things a bit far, Bruce. Many good men have been convinced of EP in congregational worship, or the use of only inspired materials of praise, just as many good men - like yourself - have been persuaded that hymns should be allowed.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I agree with RT. Sorry Bruce. And I am not EP even though I am a member of an EP Denomination. I honestly believe the Early Church was EP. I mean Early Church.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Quote from Robert
In Essentials Unity, in non-Essentials Liberty, in all things Charity.
This suddenly seems to have become the motto in the Free Church of Scotland, especially among those that have got their way and are permitted now to use musical instruments and hymns in the stated services.

Whether the motto will cut the mustard remains to be seen.
I miss Andrew. This is from one of our old buddies.
Virginia is for Huguenots: In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, charity
In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, charity
Have you ever heard the saying "unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things" or its Latin equivalent "In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas"? It has often been attributed to Augustine or to John Wesley or to Richard Baxter or to John Comenius. It is a common saying, employed directly or in abbreviated form for instance by the 19th-century Stone-Campbell (Restoration) Movement, by Methodists, and in Pope John XXIII's 1959 encyclical, Ad Petri cathedram, and it is the motto of organizations ranging from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to the Moravian Church to the National Grange.

So where does this expression really come from? The source is an irenical 17th-century German Lutheran by the name of Peter Meiderlin (Latinized: Petrus Meuderlinus), who also went by the pseudonym Rupertus Meldenius. During the strife of the Thirty-Years War, he wrote a Latin tract called Paraenesis votiva pro pace ecclesiae ad theologos Augustanae confessionis auctore Ruperto Meldenio Theologo (1626) encouraging theologians in the midst of their controversies to not forget love, which included the closing words: "In a word, were we to observe unity in essentials, liberty in incidentals, and in all things charity, our affairs would be certainly in a most happy situation." This phrase has been repeated many times and attributed to many sources. But the origins of this quote have been documented by the following 19th-century scholars: Jan van der Hoeven, Gottfried Christian Friedrich Lücke, Philip Schaff (History of the Christian Church, Vol. 7, pp. 885). Knowing the source provides the historical context necessary to properly understand this common saying.
Posted by VirginiaHuguenot at 1/20/2009 06:17:00 PM
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
I have neither the time nor the interest to read all these posts.

But I have a question.

Did any non-EPer offer a definition to the terms in the OP question?
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I have neither the time nor the interest to read all these posts.

But I have a question.

Did any non-EPer offer a definition to the terms in the OP question?
Using control-f for "fredtgreco" or "Contra_Mundum" should get you to the most relevant posts in that regard.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Hello guys. Can this be my final post? :)
Quote from Bruce
6) Lastly, I reject the notion that all opposition to EP is ineluctably anti-Psalmnody, or anti-RPW. I say that the abuse of a thing is no argument against the lawful use of a thing. I don't have the persuasive power, or even the desire, to convince you against your conscience that it is the ordinary expression of God's gifts to take from Scripture generally and sing his praise in worship. I think that bad men and abuse of ministerial authority led the faithful church to an original restriction of song to the precise expressions in Scripture, and eventually still further restricted to the precise limits of the "Scripture's Songbook."
I think this is taking things a bit far, Bruce. Many good men have been convinced of EP in congregational worship, or the use of only inspired materials of praise, just as many good men - like yourself - have been persuaded that hymns should be allowed.
I'm not sure what you took from this portion I wrote. What I had in mind was a response (by the faithful church) against the Arians (the bad men), that I think ended up being an overreaction. But that's just an interpretation of history, which is best not to be too dogmatic about.
I agree with RT. Sorry Bruce. And I am not EP even though I am a member of an EP Denomination. I honestly believe the Early Church was EP. I mean Early Church.
Randy, what are you apologizing for? I'm sorry that my post seemed like a slam on the "right" side. It wasn't meant to be.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Bruce
I'm not sure what you took from this portion I wrote. What I had in mind was a response (by the faithful church) against the Arians (the bad men), that I think ended up being an overreaction. But that's just an interpretation of history, which is best not to be too dogmatic about
OK. Maybe the faithful church were wise to be chary about imposing hymns on the people, when we either have the Psalms to sing from, or even the whole of the inspired, infallible and inerrant Word, and when they saw what happened in churches that had this "liberty". We see a similar thing today in much of evangelicalism that has this liberty. We see a liberty or "liberty" that was once denied by many Reformed men, being abused by many.

Once the permission to sing hymns is allowed it leads to the possibility of a very uneven quality at best in the materials of praise sung. Certainly, when you sing a Psalm, non-Psalmodic Scripture song, or an accurate paraphrase, you know that you are singing God's Word. With hymns it is at best an interpretation of God's Word which may be more or less accurate, which puts a lot of weight on the sanctified common sense of those choosing the hymns. Because the collective congregational singing is a more formal part of worship, where everyone is expected to join in word for word, an authority is given to uninspired,fallible and errant hymns - however good and wonderful they are in their lyrics and music - that is undeserved. This is all far away from the OP.

Quote from Martin
In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, charity
Have you ever heard the saying "unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things" or its Latin equivalent "In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas"? It has often been attributed to Augustine or to John Wesley or to Richard Baxter or to John Comenius. It is a common saying, employed directly or in abbreviated form for instance by the 19th-century Stone-Campbell (Restoration) Movement, by Methodists, and in Pope John XXIII's 1959 encyclical, Ad Petri cathedram, and it is the motto of organizations ranging from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church to the Moravian Church to the National Grange.

So where does this expression really come from? The source is an irenical 17th-century German Lutheran by the name of Peter Meiderlin (Latinized: Petrus Meuderlinus), who also went by the pseudonym Rupertus Meldenius. During the strife of the Thirty-Years War, he wrote a Latin tract called Paraenesis votiva pro pace ecclesiae ad theologos Augustanae confessionis auctore Ruperto Meldenio Theologo (1626) encouraging theologians in the midst of their controversies to not forget love, which included the closing words: "In a word, were we to observe unity in essentials, liberty in incidentals, and in all things charity, our affairs would be certainly in a most happy situation." This phrase has been repeated many times and attributed to many sources. But the origins of this quote have been documented by the following 19th-century scholars: Jan van der Hoeven, Gottfried Christian Friedrich Lücke, Philip Schaff (History of the Christian Church, Vol. 7, pp. 885). Knowing the source provides the historical context necessary to properly understand this common saying.
Posted by VirginiaHuguenot at 1/20/2009 06:17:00 PM
Yeah, well I've got to learn to love my brothers in the FC that feel strongly that their liberty is being stepped on by not having musical instruments and hymns at the stated services, and they've got to learn to love me if I still hold by what I am persuaded of, and if I'm at a service and refuse to sing a hymn or worship song that isn't worth singing.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (I Pet 4:8, ESV)
Our love for one another in Christ, and our willingness to put up with imperfections that peculiarly irritate us in the Church, is once again being tested by these contentions, but there are enough small Presbyterian denominations in Scotland as it is, In my humble opinion.

This issue gets people hot under the collar, but we have to find a way of getting along together in Christ.
 
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