What differentiates "hymns" from "spiritual songs," from a non-EP perspective?

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au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I have recently come to embrace exclusive psalmody (after many months of grappling with it), but before that I always figured that since a hymn is defined as "a praise song to a deity," a spiritual song must be a song that is spiritually edifying but not necessarily directed to God (e.g. "Come Ye Sinners"). I am curious to learn what others think.
 

puritanpilgrim

Puritan Board Junior
[video=youtube;-08YZF87OBQ]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-08YZF87OBQ[/video]

---------- Post added at 04:13 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:07 AM ----------

[video=youtube;IQxHvBtR7hs]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQxHvBtR7hs[/video]
 

discipulo

Puritan Board Junior
I have recently come to embrace exclusive psalmody (after many months of grappling with it), but before that I always figured that since a hymn is defined as "a praise song to a deity," a spiritual song must be a song that is spiritually edifying but not necessarily directed to God (e.g. "Come Ye Sinners"). I am curious to learn what others think.
I am pretty much on the same boat too, brother. These days I've been listening to about 2 sermons a day on the RPW and EP and I find that the Biblical arguments for EP are, in my opinion, irrefutable.

As are, in my opinion, the Biblical and Historical evidences against Musical accompaniment in New Covenant Worship. So I am writing from an EP perspective with a main question that is
somehow related to yours. So I don't see a reason to start a new thread with this question.

Is the adjective pneumatikos on Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19 only qualifying the Songs - Ode or includes also the Psalmos and Hymnos?

This could provide an interesting difference between the Hymnos and the Ode.

I add an excerpt of an article that I found very interesting from an EP side:

Consulting this great version, the most cursory reader will find, first, that there is a steady recurrence of these
three designations, psalms, hymns, and songs, in the formal titles to the compositions of the Psalter;
second, that the terms hymns and songs, with their related verbs, occur again and again in the text or body of
the Psalms; and, third, that the same terms are employed frequently in the historical books, both canonical and
apocryphal, with reference to the Psalter. Besides the caption of the entire Psalter, which is Psalms
(psalmoi), it is well known that most of these inspired odes have headlines of their own. In sixty-seven of these the word
psalm (psalmos)appears, in six the word hymn (humnos), and in thirty-five the word song (oodee)
, the same Greek words used in the passages before us. Still further: psalm and song are conjoined twelve times,
and psalms and hymn twice. In the heading of the seventy-sixth Psalm all three terms stand side by side, just
as here, and the heading of the sixty-fifth Psalm contains psalm and song, while in the first verse the
composition is spoken of as a hymn. It is noteworthy also in these compound inscriptions that our terms
interchange easily, and that hymn is written repeatedly in the plural, suggesting that in the estimation of the
seventy it was applicable to all the poems of the Psalter. There are such various phrasings as a psalm of a song,
a song of a psalm, a psalm, a song, in psalms a song, in hymns a psalm, in hymns, a psalm, a song.

Turning from the titles of the Greek Psalter, the terms hymn and song, with their cognate verbs and
substantives are interspersed freely through the text as well of its odes, being descriptive of these compositions.
Three citations out of sixteen will suffice. The fortieth Psalm, third verse, runs: He put into my mouth a new lay,
a hymn (humnon)to our God. At the close of the seventy-second Psalm there is the line, The hymns
(hoi humnoi) of David, the son of Jesse, are ended. This colophon may apply to the entire preceding collection,
Psalms 1 and 72, inclusive, as Perowne contends, or it may have been attached to some group of Davidic Psalms
incorporated in the Psalter. In either case it shows that the LXX. Translators comprehended Psalms
indiscriminately and collectively under the name hymns (humnoi)
Again, in Psalm 137:3 we read: There they who took us captive demanded of us words of songs
(oodoon), and they who led us away said, Chant us a hymn(humnon)out of the songs (ek toon oodoon)
of Zion. Here the word songs (oodai)covers all the Psalms, and a hymn may be selected at random from these songs.
When we pass form the Psalms themselves to the historical books of the Septuagint, the terminology is identical.
In II Samuel, I Chronicles, II Chronicles and Nehemiah there are sixteen instances of this, and in them the Psalms
as a plurality are called hymns (humnoi) or songs (oodai) indifferently, and the singing of them is called hymning (humneoo, humnoodeoo, humneesis)
. In the apocryphal books of the Septuagint, likewise the same sustained usage catches the eye at least ten times, as will be seen by examining
The Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus and the First and Second books of Maccabees.


The complete article by John McNaugher : A Special Exegesis of Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 can be found here

Special Exegesis by McNaugher
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I thought "spiritual" applied to all three even when I was a convinced non-EPist. Regardless, I'm curious about the difference between "hymns" and "songs" for non-EPists. I have seen the EP position mocked for saying tbe passage says "psalms, psalms, and psalms," but surely "psalms, hymns, and hymns" makes even less sense. So there must be a difference. I always assumed the difference was in whether the song was a praise song to God (hymn) or another kind of spiritually-edifying song (song), but I'm wondering if there are other interpretations.
 

discipulo

Puritan Board Junior
I thought "spiritual" applied to all three even when I was a convinced non-EPist. Regardless, I'm curious about the difference between "hymns" and "songs" for non-EPists. I have seen the EP position mocked for saying tbe passage says "psalms, psalms, and psalms," but surely "psalms, hymns, and hymns" makes even less sense. So there must be a difference. I always assumed the difference was in whether the song was a praise song to God (hymn) or another kind of spiritually-edifying song (song), but I'm wondering if there are other interpretations.
Actually there are verses in the Bible with 3 synonims, for the sake of emphasis, a couple of the sermons I heard mentioned those,

I don't have the references now, but one single verse included sins, transgressions and iniquities.

Of course in the passages of Eph and Col the 3 words and variants recall the words under which fall different parts of the Psalter.

The article by John McNaugher is very thorough in that, and when I will be at home I will post a chart of all the different Psalm "categories".
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I thought "spiritual" applied to all three even when I was a convinced non-EPist. Regardless, I'm curious about the difference between "hymns" and "songs" for non-EPists. I have seen the EP position mocked for saying tbe passage says "psalms, psalms, and psalms," but surely "psalms, hymns, and hymns" makes even less sense. So there must be a difference. I always assumed the difference was in whether the song was a praise song to God (hymn) or another kind of spiritually-edifying song (song), but I'm wondering if there are other interpretations.
Actually there are verses in the Bible with 3 synonims, for the sake of emphasis, a couple of the sermons I heard mentioned those,

I don't have the references now, but one single verse included sins, transgressions and iniquities.

Of course in the passages of Eph and Col the 3 words and variants recall the words under which fall different parts of the Psalter.

The article by John McNaugher is very thorough in that, and when I will be at home I will post a chart of all the different Psalm "categories".
Oh yes, there are a bunch. Also "signs and wonders and mighty deeds" and "statues and commandments and judgements." However, I'm not sure appealing to the Hebrew triplicate is an option for someone who believes that the word "psalms" in this passages refers to the psalter while the others don't. So this is only an explanation suitable for an EPist, unless I am mistaken.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't know the answer, but it's a great question. Here's a possibility: perhaps a "hymn" as referred to by Paul has a specific structure, format, or style, and spiritual songs is a way to say "whatever else isn't covered by the terms psalms and hymns." Just an idea.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I have recently come to embrace exclusive psalmody (after many months of grappling with it), but before that I always figured that since a hymn is defined as "a praise song to a deity," a spiritual song must be a song that is spiritually edifying but not necessarily directed to God (e.g. "Come Ye Sinners"). I am curious to learn what others think.
Good question, Austin. I'd be interested to know, too.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
The technical definition of a hymn (as opposed to the colloquial use) is any piece of poetry directly addressing a deity. Thus "Be Thou My Vision" is a hymn whereas "Blessed Assurance" is not.
 

MLCOPE2

Puritan Board Junior
The technical definition of a hymn (as opposed to the colloquial use) is any piece of poetry directly addressing a deity. Thus "Be Thou My Vision" is a hymn whereas "Blessed Assurance" is not.
If that be the case then the question arises "Is this how Paul's recipients understood those terms?". If not then a different answer must be sought.
 

MountainSmith

Puritan Board Freshman
I think I'm most in agreement with Pugh from Lessburg, VA.

I respect those who support and practice EP, though I disagree. I think the main point in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 is that we are making melody to God and have thankfulness to God in our hearts. On one hand, there are so-called "spiritual songs" that are so utterly me-centered and vacuous that they are worshipping -- just not worshipping the one who is worthy of worship. On the other, it is possible for EP to become an idol, an object of worship and pride in itself, and a Christian, a family, a particular church can end up worshipping - just not the one who is worthy of worship! It's a worthwhile discussion, and I am willing to learn and grow. I for one am thankful to be in a church that uses the psalter and the Trinity Hymnal, with songs carefully selected and led as a congregation worshipping our Lord -- since I spent time in churches with regular "special music" performances. Plus I know of churches that seem to select songs based on that week's radio play on Christian Radio, including what I feel to be unnecessarily altered good ol' hymns (and spiritual songs, to be precise). Let's not forget that we worship imperfectly here, in singing, giving, serving, reading, preaching, etc.

As for musical instruments, I do not see how they are forbidden when the Old Testament is replete with examples and instructions for instruments in worship music. Before you say "Oh, that's OT," look at WCF VII (Of God's Covenant with Man), especially paragraphs 3, 5 and 6 - it is not 2 covenants of grace, but 1 differently administered. There is certainly room for disagreement over kinds of instruments and style and volume of play. There's certainly room for some particular churches to decide not to use instruments as a matter of conscience or principle.
 
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Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
The technical definition of a hymn (as opposed to the colloquial use) is any piece of poetry directly addressing a deity. Thus "Be Thou My Vision" is a hymn whereas "Blessed Assurance" is not.
If that be the case then the question arises "Is this how Paul's recipients understood those terms?". If not then a different answer must be sought.
No, the question is whether the hymns indicated are supposed to be drawn exclusively from the psalter.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Brethren, I am really only seeking to know how non-exclusive psalmodists understand the difference between "hymns" and "songs" in Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19. I know what I guessed they might mean (and Phillip seems to be saying the same thing I had guessed), but I wondered if there were other understandings. The stuff about instruments and whether EP can be an idol is off topic.
 

MLCOPE2

Puritan Board Junior
No, the question is whether the hymns indicated are supposed to be drawn exclusively from the psalter.
The burden of proof lies upon those who say that Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs refer to anything besides the psalter. You have yet to present an exegetical argument based on a first century understanding of those terms. A "technical" definition that is unknown to Paul or his audience fails to provide that.

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"Before we consider the question of how these passages relate to public worship, we first will consider the question “what does Paul mean by psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs?” This question is very important, for many advocates of uninspired hymnody (who claim to adhere to the regulative principle) point to this passage as proof that uninspired hymns are permitted in public worship by God. When examining passages such as Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, one should not make the common mistake of importing our modern meaning or usage of a word, such as hymn, into what Paul wrote over nineteen hundred years ago. When a person hears the word hymn today, he immediately thinks of the extra-biblical non-inspired hymns found in the pews of most churches. The only way to really determine what Paul meant by “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” is to determine how these terms were used by Greek-speaking Christians in the first century.

When interpreting religious terminology used by Paul in his epistles, there are certain rules of interpretation which should be followed. First, the religious thinking and world view of the apostles was essentially from the Old Testament and Jesus Christ, not Greek heathenism. Therefore, when Paul discusses doctrine or worship, the first place to look for help in understanding religious terms is the Old Testament. We often find Hebrew expressions or terms expressed in koine Greek. Second, we must keep in mind that the churches that Paul founded in Asia consisted of converted Jews, Gentile proselytes to Old Testament Judaism (God-fearers), and Gentile pagans. These churches had a Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. When Paul expressed Old Testament ideas to a Greek-speaking audience, he would use the religious terminology of the Septuagint. If the terms hymns (humnois) and spiritual songs (odais pheumatikais) were defined within the New Testament, then looking to the Septuagint for the meaning of these words would be unnecessary. Given the fact, however, that these terms are rarely used in the New Testament and cannot be defined within their immediate context apart from a knowledge of the Old Testament, it would be exegetically irresponsible to ignore how these words are used in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament.

When we examine the Septuagint, we find that the terms psalm (psalmos), hymn (humnos), and song (odee) used by Paul clearly refer to the Old Testament book of Psalms and not to ancient or modern uninspired hymns or songs." (Exclusive Psalmody: A biblical Defense, Brian Schwertley)
 

MLCOPE2

Puritan Board Junior
Bushell writes:
Psalmos occurs some 87 times in the Septuagint, some 78 of which are in the Psalms themselves, and 67 times in the psalm titles. It also forms the title to the Greek version of the psalter. Humnos occurs some 17 times in the Septuagint, 13 of which are in the Psalms, six times in the titles. In 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Chronicles and Nehemiah there are some 16 examples in which the Psalms are called ‘hymns’ (humnoi) or ‘songs’ (odai) and the singing of them is called ‘hymning’ (humneo, humnodeo, humnesis). Odee occurs some 80 times in the Septuagint, 45 of which are in the Psalms, 36 in the Psalm titles.[19]

In twelve Psalm titles we find both psalm and song; and, in two others we find psalm and hymn. “Psalm seventy-six is designated ‘psalm, hymn and song.’ And at the end of the first seventy two psalms we read ‘the hymns of David the son of Jesse are ended’ (Ps. 72:20). In other words, there is no more reason to think that the Apostle referred to psalms when he said ‘psalms,’ than when he said ‘hymns’ and ‘songs,’ for all three were biblical terms for (the) psalms in the book of psalms itself.”[20] To ignore how Paul’s audience would have understood these terms and how these terms are defined by the Bible; and then instead to import non-biblical modern meanings into these terms is exegetical malpractice.
 

discipulo

Puritan Board Junior
I think I'm most in agreement with Pugh from Lessburg, VA.

I respect those who support and practice EP, though I disagree. I think the main point in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 is that we are making melody to God and have thankfulness to God in our hearts. On one hand, there are so-called "spiritual songs" that are so utterly me-centered and vacuous that they are worshipping -- just not worshipping the one who is worthy of worship. On the other, it is possible for EP to become an idol, an object of worship and pride in itself, and a Christian, a family, a particular church can end up worshipping - just not the one who is worthy of worship! It's a worthwhile discussion, and I am willing to learn and grow. I for one am thankful to be in a church that uses the psalter and the Trinity Hymnal, with songs carefully selected and led as a congregation worshipping our Lord -- since I spent time in churches with regular "special music" performances. Plus I know of churches that seem to select songs based on that week's radio play on Christian Radio, including what I feel to be unnecessarily altered good ol' hymns (and spiritual songs, to be precise). Let's not forget that we worship imperfectly here, in singing, giving, serving, reading, preaching, etc.

As for musical instruments, I do not see how they are forbidden when the Old Testament is replete with examples and instructions for instruments in worship music. Before you say "Oh, that's OT," look at WCF VII (Of God's Covenant with Man), especially paragraphs 3, 5 and 6 - it is not 2 covenants of grace, but 1 differently administered. There is certainly room for disagreement over kinds of instruments and style and volume of play. There's certainly room for some particular churches to decide not to use instruments as a matter of conscience or principle.
Mark, I know you mean well in your remarks, but like Austin said, you went away from the question that should direct the thread. It's not a big mistake, I was also writing from an EP perspective when Austin asked otherwise.

However you raised questions and concerns that are important but ,with all due respect, you don't substantiate well your own answers to those concerns.

And here on this thread we can't answer ourselves your comments either.

For instance were all the authors of the WCF all for instrumental accompaniment in Worship? There are more solid arguments both against and for Acapella and EP.

If you find, as you say, that: It's a worthwhile discussion, and I am willing to learn and grow.

Why don't you start a debate about it here on the PB?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Folks, please stick to the topic of the opening post. Start new threads on Acapella EP in general; or, read the ton of old threads we've accumulated over the years.:judge:
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I would suggest consulting Trench's New Testament Synonyms. I don't know if there is a source behind this, but many definitions seem to reflect his breakdown.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
A "technical" definition that is unknown to Paul or his audience fails to provide that.
The definition I provided could apply equally in an EP or non-EP setting.
I think so, too.

---------- Post added at 08:09 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:03 AM ----------

For the record I embraced a capella over a year ago. For some reason that domino fell first and the EP domino was stubborn. Maybe later I'll start a thread responding to Mr. Smith's points/questions, if someone else doesn't first.
 
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