I’m Just Wondering

Scott Clark has argued that one of problems with the URC Psalter Hymnal that is coming out is a general resistance in the Reformed ethos to singing Scripture-only music in our churches. Singing Scripture only is a position that he advocates in his Recovering the Reformed Confessions. It must be clear here that Clark does not advocate Psalms-only singing, although he certainly loves the Psalms (as do I). He advocates that the only thing we should sing in worship is Scripture. His position is that the Regulative Principle requires this.

Now, this position has a very honorable pedigree in the Reformed tradition. It is not a position to be made fun of, or to dismiss cavalierly, as many are wont to do. I would certainly not wish to do so, even though it is not my position. Comments are closed on his blog, and so I thought I would write my question to him on mine. This question comes, it must be said, from a genuine curiosity, and not from any attempt at a “gotcha” argument. I do not remember Clark addressing this particular question in his book.

My question is this: we allow paraphrases and summaries of biblical doctrine in several places in the worship service. Usually, even the strictest advocate of the Regulative Principle believes this. Preaching inevitably involves this, as does prayer (at least, good prayer does!), and any reading of the confessional standards in the worship service. If we allow paraphrase of the text to occur in some places in the worship service, why not when notes are attached to the paraphrase? What biblical warrant do we have for placing good paraphrases of the Bible in hymns (and, of course, there are plenty of bad paraphrases in hymns which should never be used, but the bad does not in and of itself negate the good) in a different category from biblical paraphrases in prayer or preaching? If a service can have a made-up confession of sin, for instance, that paraphrases different biblical truths, why couldn’t that same confession be sung?

One other question I have arises from this quotation:


When our parent denomination was founded, one of the three principal concerns was that the older Dutch Reformed church in the USA (the RCA) had given up psalm-singing for hymnody. When the founders of the CRC came to North America they were shocked by such liberalism.

Now, no Reformed church should give up singing the Psalms. That is, after all, God’s own hymnbook given to us, and we should make regular and extensive use of it. However, is singing any hymns (even what I would call “good” hymns, which would be Scriptural in content with music that fits the words) a mark of liberalism? Clark, of course, is here talking about giving up Psalm-singing for hymns. I wonder if he would say the same for a congregation that sang Psalms, though not exclusively, but also sang hymns that paraphrase Scriptural truths well.

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205 Comments

  1. Randall van der Sterren said,

    April 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    The “scripture only” rule was the original meaning of the Standards, which you took an oath to. While I won’t belabor the point, the hymns are the classic case of an unnecessary practiced being dragged in order to be cultural l relevant. While Clark is often wrong in choosing his battles — and sometimes on the wrong side — he is headed in the right direction here.

    Also, sadly, the URC is one of the few examples of a Gereformeede church starting without a clear stance in favor of Biblical praise.

  2. April 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I listened to Kenneth Gentry’s DVDs on Exclusive Psalmody. He makes a case that really the Psalms are a pattern for our worshipful singing even as The Lord’s Prayer is a pattern for our prayers.

  3. Joel de Leon said,

    April 5, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Excellent question. I hope R.S. Clark answers this one here.

  4. Rachel said,

    April 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    I have heard Colossians 3:16 used to defend the singing of hymns (good ones):
    16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

    I think your question about paraphrase is a good one.

  5. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    With all due respect, I think your question provides its own answer. Lane asked:

    My question is this: we allow paraphrases and summaries of biblical doctrine in several places in the worship service.

    Emphasis mine.

    I would submit your subject clause belies a certain discomfort with the RPW. As long as you are asking what we allow, you will find yourself subtly finding the answer in the same place as your question arises.

    The question is not what weallow, but what has Christ commanded. Preaching is commanded in Scripture. Prayer is commanded, the reading of the Word is commanded, the singing of the Psalms is commanded. The Westminster Confession of Faith is not unclear on this point. Baptizing believers and their children is commanded. The periodic observance of the Lord’s Supper of bread and wine is commanded. The laying on of hands in ordination of deacons and elders is commanded.

    With respect to Col 3:16, the only Psalms Hymns and Songs of the Spirit are those inspired by the Holy Spirit. For the Word of Christ to dwell richly in us, why would we sing anything other than the Psalms Hymns and Songs inspired by the Holy Spirit? The only Word of Christ we have available to us is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. On what basis would we think that uninspired songs, which cannot be legitimately called the Word of Christ would lead to having the Word Christ dwell richly in us? As for me, I am way too immediately dependant on Christ to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth by singing uninspired songs. The songs collected in Scripture are the only songs that meet the criteria of in Spirit and in Truth.

    With respect to Exclusive Psalmody, was the collection of the Psalms man-made or of the Holy Spirit? Several of the Psalms are found both inside and outside of the Psalter. Other songs are found outside the Psalter. On what basis are we going to find fault with the Holy Spirit’s determination in collecting just those 150 songs as the hymnal of Christ’s chuch? 2 Tim 3:16,17 tells what all scripture is profitable for. Singing of praise notably absent from that list. Col 3:16 and Eph 5:16-20 do tell us which Scripture is profitable for the singing of the praise of Christ. In answer of the question what will be singing in glory? None on earth knows. What we do have is what Christ has given to us for his worship as his people here and now.

    So sing what you think is best, but should we not beware of the subject of the sentences we use to defend our position?

  6. proregno said,

    April 6, 2011 at 5:46 am

    “Now, no Reformed church should give up singing the Psalms. That is, after all, God’s own hymnbook given to us, and we should make regular and extensive use of it.”

    Yes, and we should therefore also ask if God’s Hymnbook is sufficient (BC art.7) or not for formal worship: Are the Psalms (EP position) or Scripture (Psalms and other songs in Scripture) ‘sufficient’ for God’s worship when His people meet, or must we add songs to it ?

    I would answer yes, Gods Hymnbook is sufficient, as I believe God’s grace is sufficient for our salvation, Scripture is sufficient for preaching, teaching, etc, the two sacraments are sufficient, the Lord’s Day is sufficient, etc.

    My question then would be why many do not see God’s Hymnbook as sufficient for praising Him in song ?

    Thank you for the answers.

  7. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 6, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Since I’m still chewing on this issue, I’ll offer up arguments for exclusively Scriptural songs here and then a couple of objections below.

    (1) Lane, you mention that we allow (really, require) the paraphrasing of Scripture in sermons and prayers. Very true. But the difference is that sermons and prayers are one-offs. If a minister errs in his exposition, it can cause some damage. But hymns are intended to be sung repeatedly, and disseminated throughout the denomination; if there is an error, it will be propagated widely.

    A paraphrase is not a bad thing, but it is further removed from the original by degree (compare: ESV or The Message?), and the further the distance, the more scrutiny is required.

    For that reason, I would suggest that hymns should be held to a higher standard than sermons or prayers — similar to those of creeds, which are in a parallel position to hymns.

    And that standard would be either Scripture itself, or else good-and-necessary consequence from Scripture, as ratified by the denomination (and not a committee thereof).

    (2) Hymns get stuck in our heads. Isn’t it best to have Scripture bouncing around up there?

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 6, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Here are a couple of objections to Scripture-only hymnody, based on the regulative principle.

    (1) For centuries, from Moses until David, God’s people were obviously under the regulative principle. We know that they sang songs of praise. But just as obviously, there was exactly one enscripturated song of praise — the song of Moses and Miriam (Ex 15). It would be ludicrous to suggest that this one song, and only this song, was sung in worship.

    From this it follows that other, non-inspired songs were sung by God’s people while the RP was in effect. And example equals permission.

    (2) Likewise, David’s Psalms show clear evidence of being non-novel. There are established forms (maskil, etc.), there is a choir director, there are well-known instruments. The text surrounding the Psalms makes it clear that these were not the first songs to be sung by God’s people in worship.

    But they are the first songs to be enscripturated.

    From this, it follows (again!) that God’s people under the RP were not constrained to sing only Scripture. And example equals permission.

  9. Vern Crisler said,

    April 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Lane said, “It is not a position to be made fun of, or to dismiss cavalierly….”

    Maybe it’s high time EP is made fun of and dismissed cavalierly.

  10. Sean Gerety said,

    April 6, 2011 at 8:36 am

    I realize Lane’s question isn’t directed at EP per say, but I would think the passage Rachel cites above from Colossians would apply here as well. If the only hymns that could be sung are Scripture set to music then this would hardly require “all wisdom” when teaching and admonishing one another through song. I think the comparisons to preaching and praying are apt.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Randall, I don’t know about the reason for introducing hymns to be culturally relevant. That may be true. However, hymns are hardly seen as culturally relevant today. They are seen as fossils.

    Andrew, I am not uncomfortable in the least with the RPW. I just don’t think (at the moment, anyway!) the RPW forbids hymns any more than it forbids spontaneous prayer. Your argument concerning Col 3:16 has a serious flaw, in that the Word of God dwells inside us not only by explicit and word-for-word quotation, but also by summary and paraphrase. Hymns that summarize Scriptural teaching well could thus be seen as fulfilling that passage’s requirements. Furthermore, since the Psalms cannot be sung exactly as translated, but have to be put into English meter, we are already allowing a certain measure of paraphrase when we use *metered* Psalms. The question then becomes this: how much paraphrase is too much paraphrase, according to the Scripture-only position? I am a musician. My undergraduate degree is in piano performance. There is no way to set Scripture to music in any kind of strophic form without paraphrasing it to set it to rhyme and meter. So, you’ve already introduced some paraphrase. Why should we forbid good and necessary consequence from being paraphrased as well and set to music? For that is all that good hymns are.

    proregno, this is a very important question you have raised. My counter-question is this: Scripture has not given us any explicit warrant for using any prayers in the service other than those recorded for us in Scripture. It simply isn’t there. So why are you comfortable with spontaneous prayers, but not comfortable with sung prayers that are not spontaneous, but are often well-considered, carefully thought-out summaries of Scriptural teaching?

    Jeff, I would answer your first post’s issues this way: first of all, the fact that there are problems with some hymns is not an argument against them. Yes, there are terrible hymns out there. That is why the minister is responsible for what the congregation sings. As to the issue of one-off versus repeated use, this is not a biblical distinction. That being said, I thoroughly agree that hymns should be held to a high standard, and the bad ones should be rejected (I would argue that there are many poor hymns out there, even some that many people like).

  12. stuart said,

    April 6, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Arguments for or against certain views of the RPW often fail to deal with some of the underlying foundations of our views. In the end, there are several things happening that we usually don’t talk about:

    1) Our different hermeneutics approaches to the Scripture . . . perhaps our approaches are not vastly different, but they vary enough that we have godly men who truly desire to follow Scripture but disagree with one another on whether we should sing Scripture only or sing songs that are Scripturally based but not necessarily straight from Scripture. Simply note the variations of interpretations of Colossians 3:16 within Reformedom.

    2) The distinction between the principle and the application of the principle . . . The “sing Scripture only” side argues those who sing songs written merely by men are denying the RPW. Is that true, or is it possible that these folks are simply applying the principle in a correct but different way?

    3) The redemptive-historical use of the Book of Psalms . . . the comment “the Book of Psalms is THE hymnbook of the Church” is frequently assumed. I’d love to hear a good discussion that shed light (and not just heat) on how that assumption jives with the understanding of the progressive revelation of God’s redemptive purposes in history which has been inscripturated. We know that the Psalms (as well as the entire OT) point to Christ and the gospel, but not always explicitly. If I preached a message from Psalm 69 and never once explicitly mentioned Christ or the gospel, I would rightly be challenged on it. This leads to the question: what is the correct redemptive-historical use of the Psalms in the worship of the church today?

  13. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Thanks Lane:

    Just to bolster the points a bit. Both of the arguments are, as you perceived, pragmatic ones based on the principle that we ought not allow bad theology into the service.

    While it is true that the distinction between one-off and repeated use is not biblical (as in, we ought to have good doctrine in all areas of worship!), I am attempting to make a “light of nature” argument concerning circumstances: SINCE hymns are sung repeatedly, they SHOULD be held to a higher standard of scrutiny than prayers, or even sermons. And actually, we already do that now in a sense: the minister does not submit his sermons to session or a committee for scrutiny prior to preaching, correct? But hymns and songs have to be approved before use, at least in our church.

    That’s not necessarily an argument for scripture-only hymnody, but an argument for high-bar hymnody.

  14. Andrew Duggan said,

    April 6, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Lane,

    Briefly, you read too much into what I said. The context was not the preaching of the Word, nor prayer, where summary is expected, but in the singing of praise. Even there (preaching & extemporaneous prayer) I think caution is warranted. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out the mouth of God. When we pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, even if we don’t quote it, where do we find God’s will revealed? If you going to call the preaching of the Word nothing more than summary and paraphrase, I think you’re being consistent, but miss the mark. The preaching of the Word is a means of grace, commanded by precept and example in Scripture.

    Your assertion that metrical translation of the Psalms are paraphrases not translations is just that. Translating the Psalms in to the vulgar in a way that makes them useful for their intended purpose, singing, does not render those translations paraphrases. While some Psalters are better translation than others, and perhaps, some decline to be no more than mere paraphrases, the same thing happens in prose translation of the Bible. So we reject the paraphrases (as Scripture) and we take the faithful translations as Scripture. Really, would you substitute reading from Catherine Vos’ Child Story Bible for the reading of Scripture in the worship of God? Why do you then substitute Isaac Watts or Fanny Crosby songs for the Psalms?

    What you didn’t answer is that fact you put the focus on us, not God in your question. Worship is not about us, or what we allow, it’s about God through Christ and what He requires. We are the beneficiaries of it to be sure, and worship is one of the most exquisite ways in which we enjoy God, but enjoying God through Christ is about God, not us.

  15. proregno said,

    April 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Lane, about song and prayer: God commands us to do both, He has given us a list of songs to sing, even numbered it in His providence, the 150 Psalms. If I am correct, it is the only book in the Bible with God inspired numbers, and I think this fact should not be passed by too lightly.

    This is one of the reasons I would also argue for EP, because the Lord did not give us a new Songbook or added Songbook in the NT, with the coming of Christ, and if one start singing the rest of Canon, where do we stop ? Is it correct to sing the Ten Commandments ? I think we should obey, not sing it, to our Lawgiver ?

    Like the Ten Commandments, the 150 Psalms are sufficient, each for it’s different purposes, even in NT times.

    The Psalmbook were sufficient for our Lord, so it should be for His NT church. Eph.5:19 and Col.3:16 refer to different kind of Psalms, as explained in the notes of the Statenvertaling of the Dordt Fathers (Dutch Annotations on the State-translation)

    But, with prayer, we do not have a canonized Prayerbook in the Bible, but a model prayer (Lord’s Prayer), which teach us how to pray (btw, the disciples asks the Lord how to pray, not for a prayerbook, Luk.11:1). Jeff above already mentioned the practical wisdom and importance to distinguish between the longterm influence of the sermon/prayer and the songbook on the congregation, which also must warn us between of the danger of using hymns.

    No matter what way one argues, to sing the Psalms only, or Scripture only, is by far the best and most safest way to follow for a congregation, and also the most ecumenical and unifying songs to sing worldwide. We all know David and his Psalms, but who is Fanny Crosby … Bill Cosby’s sister ? ;-)

    Another problem with hymns: who decide what is a ‘good hymn’ vs a ‘bad hymn’, and where is the rules to judged them by ? We will end with a songbook for the Church, that will have maybe 1000 or 2000 songs (and keep adding each day and year), and many in the Church do not even know a few Psalms by heart, now they must learn more ?

    No brothers, I will plead for EP or at least singing only Scripture, in the footsteps of Calvin and the Reformers, it is simply the best, it is sufficient for worship, it is something all can agree on (Psalms/Scripture unites, hymns divide, from the early centuries even till now), let us be contend with Scripture.

  16. Allan said,

    April 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Stuart-

    I agree. Your point #2 is a sticking point for me. And in my observation of internet conversations when this point is brought up, it is ignored or talked around. And instead of being engaged in a brotherly manner, typically the assumption is that one is “will worshipping” and “offering strange fire” and thus must be shouted down rather than gently corrected.

    RPW stands for regulative principle of worship, not regulated practice of worship (Obviously the principle regulates practice but my meaning is that it is not referring to a specific practice). It is my understanding that RPW is another way of saying sola scriptura, not just for doctrine, ecclesiology, etc., but also for worship.

    Those who do not hold to EP or ES (exclusive scripture) are uncharitably accused of denying the RPW because they do not practice a historical way in which the RPW was applied. For the Reformed to broad brush internal differences seems to contradict our practice of being precisionists. It seems to me that accepting the normative principle of worship (NPW) is a denial of the RPW, for they are clear contradictions. But to profess and use the same principle yet come to different conclusions within that principle is not clearly a denial of the principle. At most, it may be inconsistent or wrong application, but to say it is a denial of the principle itself seems incorrect.

    It is clear that the Reformed historically have interpreted the RPW to be applied as EP or ES, or even ES with the addition of creeds and confessions(Calvin). But to say that this IS the RPW seems to be sleight of hand.

    Not everyone who disagrees with EP or ES is on the side of Frame, Gore, charismatics, revivalism, Lutherans, Anglicans, or any other who actually denies the RPW as a starting point.

    Lane-
    Thanks for forcing the issue. Some of us are still on the fence on this one, and actually want to be convinced, rather than talked past since we don’t just accept the EP position on good faith or on the basis of historical practice.

  17. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 6, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Proregno (#15): Any thoughts on or rebuttal to #8?

  18. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Allan, excellent thoughts. I agree whole-heartedly with you. I think the people who drive-by target guys like myself as people who deny the RPW just because we are not exclusive Psalmodists are in danger of being schismatics. I would never deny to exclusive Psalmodists a place in the Reformed world. They belong there without a doubt. Of course, not every EP’er would do this. I have known plenty who do not. But it doesn’t help matters when the principle is equated with the practice, I agree.

    Proregno, the disciples did not ask for a model prayer. That is nowhere in the text. To equate “how to pray” with “asking for a model” is tenuous at best. Now, I happen to agree that the LP is a model prayer. But then, I would also argue that hymns are equivalent to “good and necessary consequence.” What I mean by that is that good hymns spell out the truths of Scripture, not by quoting verbatim, but by summarizing and paraphrasing. In other words, good hymns are within the same orbit of “good and necessary consequence” as the confessions of faith themselves are.

  19. David R. said,

    April 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I realize the point has been made, but just to underscore it, it seems to me that any argument for singing (uninspired) hymns that uses the phrase “we allow” is dead in the water. Yes, preaching involves paraphrases and summaries but that’s only because scriptural exposition *demands* it, not because “we allow” it. Prayer *requires* that we use our own words if we are “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let [our] requests be made known to God.” Again, it’s not a matter of *allowing* human words; they are necessary in the nature of the case. I would be very interested to see if the argument in this post can be made without using some form of the expression “we allow” or “we permit” or the like. I simply don’t think that it can be done.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2011 at 11:35 am

    David (and Andrew): you are misinterpreting my use of “we allow.” You are assuming that I am using this in a way that is contradictory to “God permits.” I did not use it that way. I have formulated the argument in just such a way as you require in comment 18 concerning good and necessary consequence. In other words, I am denying that good hymns are unscriptural. Good hymns move in the orbit of good and necessary consequence.

  21. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I would also like to add another point by way of a question: say a preacher wanted to use the poetry of a hymn in his sermon as a sermon illustration. Would this be wrong? If not, then is it all of a sudden wrong to take those same words, put notes to them, and have the congregation sing them? Wouldn’t it be equally wrong for a minister to quote a hymn as for the congregation to sing it? If it is assumed that these are two different things, then what biblical principle would be quoted to show that adding notes to words all of a sudden puts the thing in a totally different category?

  22. April 6, 2011 at 11:49 am

    [...] yesterday asking my brothers and sisters in the URCs to return to our original Reformed practice by asking some questions for [...]

  23. Allan said,

    April 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    “… I think the people who drive-by target guys like myself as people who deny the RPW just because we are not exclusive Psalmodists are in danger of being schismatics. I would never deny to exclusive Psalmodists a place in the Reformed world. They belong there without a doubt. Of course, not every EP’er would do this. I have known plenty who do not. But it doesn’t help matters when the principle is equated with the practice …”

    Totally agree Lane.

    Also, I hope I did not imply that I think ALL EP’s react like this, nor do I think EP should be denied at the Reformed table. They have actually helped me to recover the psalms in my own life and I wish more were sung or even preached on in today’s worship. My concern is some (many?) would deny us over an issue of application of a shared principle, even if we agreed on every confessional doctrinal point of Reformed orthodoxy. In that case, I agree, schismatic seems to be the danger.

  24. proregno said,

    April 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    16: I can agree with this:

    “But to profess and use the same principle yet come to different conclusions within that principle is not clearly a denial of the principle. At most, it may be inconsistent or wrong application, but to say it is a denial of the principle itself seems incorrect. It is clear that the Reformed historically have interpreted the RPW to be applied as EP or ES, or even ES with the addition of creeds and confessions(Calvin). But to say that this IS the RPW seems to be sleight of hand. Not everyone who disagrees with EP or ES is on the side of Frame, Gore, charismatics, revivalism, Lutherans, Anglicans, or any other who actually denies the RPW as a starting point.”

    In my country and church circles, we have the other side of the coin: many reformed people are misled by some reformed zealots that reject the RPW principle as such, and not only some of it’s implications/applications. They think RPW = fundamentalism, biblicism, only a puritan ‘innovation, etc., and must be rejected in toto, and not used as a starting point. They would argue that the Dordt tradition is contra the Westminister tradition in this issue. I myself do believe like GI Williamson, Engelsma, Clark and others, that one of the best expressions of the RPW is actually HC q/a 96.

    I am very glad to meet brothers all over the world who at least accept the principle, because that gives us a foundation to discuss our possible misconceptions, wrong deductions, applications, etc. But if you reject the principle as such, it is going to be very difficult to come to agreement on worship issues.

  25. Jeffrey Brannen said,

    April 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I find this to be one of the better discussions on the matter I’ve encountered with a good give and take without the harshness that seems to float around a matter like this.

    If I may offer a (I hope) helpful summary of the positions:

    On one side, the sung music of the church fits into the same category as the reading of Scripture. Thus, to paraphrase more than absolutely necessary or to include non-Scriptural songs, is, in fact, to introduce uninspired speech where inspired speech is necessary.

    On the other side, the sung music of the church fits into the same category as prayer and preaching. It must be faithful to the Scriptures, drawn from them, and teach the truth, but it is not absolutely necessary that they be the very words of Scripture to be appropriate.

    So, maybe the way forward is to determine which element of worship we are dealing with. Is the psalmnody/hymnody of the church in the same elemental category as the reading of Scripture or of the preaching of Scripture.

    Along with this, may we indeed follow the pattern of Scripture where new music was created in response to God’s mighty works of redemption or is this forbidden to those post-resurrection?

  26. David R. said,

    April 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    In Dr. Clark’s second post on this issue, there is a link to John Murray’s minority report on song in worship. Murray responds to the objection posted here. Here is the beginning of that response:

    “In dealing with this question it should be appreciated that the singing of God’s praise is a distinct act of worship. It is to be distinguished, for example, from the reading of the Scripture and from the offering of prayer to God. It is, of course, true that songs of praise often include what is of the nature of prayer to God, as it is also true that in the offering of prayer to God there is much that is of the nature of praise and thanksgiving. But it is not proper to appeal to the divine authorization or warrant we possess as to the content of prayer in order to determine the question as to the content of song. Prayer is one element of worship, singing is another. Similarity or even identity of content does not in the least obliterate the distinction between these two specific kinds of exercise in the worship of God. Because of this distinction we may not say that the offering of prayer and the singing of praise to God are the same thing and argue from the divine authorization we possess respecting the one to the authorization respecting the other.”

  27. proregno said,

    April 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    17: Jeff, to be perfectly honest, I am afraid I do not clearly understand your main argument in that post, and that is not because you are not clear maybe for others, but more that I do not understand you clearly. If you would make the same point or your main argument again, or explain it more, I will try and answer. Thanks.

    18/21: Lane, people much more able than myself about the historic RPW, would say that the problem is that we confuse two different ‘elements’ of worship, i.e. prayer and singing. Of course they are related, but they must be distinguised as two different elements of worship. Therefore the same content and circumstances for each will not necessarily apply for both elements. And we can add the element of preaching to that in it’s relation to both prayer and singing.

    Michael Bushell in his classic work, Songs of Zion, wrote:

    “…we freely grant that singing, preaching, prayer, and teaching all have
    certain aspects in common. Singing, preaching, and prayer all to varying
    extents manifest teaching functions. We also grant that they are different
    ways or means of applying the Word of God to given situations. But this observation does not in itself settle the question of whether or not singing is a distinct or separate element of worship…. Prayer, singing, and preaching may at times have certain aspects or functions in common, such as teaching or praise, but they are nonetheless distinguishable from one another and separately commanded in Scripture. The obligation to pray is not fulfilled by singing, even if singing has much in common with prayer, and the obligation to sing praise to God is not fulfilled by praying or preaching. We do not claim that these are three independent elements of worship, but we do claim that they are separately commanded and that because they are distinguishable from one another, they are distinct elements of worship. We therefore claim that a specific scriptural warrant as to content is demanded for each.”

    God commands reading and preaching of Scripture for all peoples, therefore faithful translations and preaching (the translation is not a seperate element, but the way to obey the element, the basic command; also preaching, using our ‘own words’ is obedience to the command/element)

    God commands singing for Him from all peoples, therefore the translation and adding of notes is the way to obey the command.

    Now, did God give the content what we must read and preach from ? Yes, Scriptures. We do not add Calvin or Westminster or Dordt as the content. They are only helps, ‘circumstances’ if you will, of obeying the command to teach and preach Scripture.

    Did God only command singing, but did not give us songs ? No, he gave His Hymnbook, the Psalms. We do not add man-made songs, even if they are good ones.

    Calvin’s Institutes is good, but they are not our Text to read as ‘Scripture’ and preach from; the same with Hymns, they could be true and good, but they are not the ‘content’ of our worship songs when the Church gather for formal worship.

    As we do not preach from Calvin, so we do not sing men’s songs.
    God commands preaching

  28. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Jeffrey, welcome to my blog. I like your succinct and cogent presentation of the issues. I think I would agree with it. So far, it has helped that no one is excommunicating someone else so far on this. See Clark’s recent response also for an additional helpful clarifying on his side of the argument.

  29. David Gadbois said,

    April 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I have borrowed a draft copy of the new/proposed URCNA Psalter Hymnal. On the whole I like it and think it is a big improvement on our current Psalter Hymnal, which is the 1976 Psalter Hymnal carried over from our former existence as the CRC.

    As Dr. Clark points out in the response he posted today (see above trackback), what underwrites the EP/EC position is the idea that while there may be latitude for what the minister speaks, the congregation can only speak back to God His own words. Indeed, I think this position *must* underwrite the position or else Lane’s objection is sustained.

    This position, however, would be problematic for not only our practice of singing praise. We could not recite the Apostle’s Creed or, indeed, any of the creeds. Our churches could not practice any form of responsive prayers or readings that are not taken directly from canonical Scripture. My own church recites the answers of the Heidelberg Catechism in the evening services, these would also have to cease. It would upend too much common liturgical practice, so for political reasons I doubt that our federation will widely adopt this view of the RPW.

    From an exegetical standpoint, it is difficult to sustain the idea that the congregation can only speak in public worship God’s own words. Such an understanding is not required by our confessional standards, and I think it would be very hard to show this from Scripture. At the end of the day this is what matters, whatever Calvin did or Dordt did or the Westminster Divines taught or whatever ill effects the Great Awakening had are all beside the point.

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Proregno (#24):

    Sorry to have been unclear. My argument is that we seem to have good and necessary inference to believe that between Moses and David, the children of God sang songs in worship that were not in Scripture.

    And because they did, while under the RPW, so may we. So *should* we.

  31. Jeffrey Brannen said,

    April 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Lane, thank you for welcoming me. I believe we met briefly at the Twin Lakes Fellowship last year. If memory serves, Andrew Barnes and you were smoking pipes. I could be way off.

  32. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Andrew was. I don’t smoke. :-)

  33. David R. said,

    April 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    So there’s no misunderstanding, I want to acknowledge that the vast majority of my favorite contemporary Reformed thinkers do not hold the same view as I do about the limitations of what should (or shouldn’t) be sung in public worship. So this has nothing to do with whether or not one holds to (or can correctly articulate) the regulative principle. It just *seems to me* that when certain arguments are proposed in favor of uninspired song in worship that there is a lapse from that principle. I recognize that I could be wrong, and I’m willing to be persuaded.

  34. mary kathryn said,

    April 6, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    There’s so much here already, but here are a few thoughts:
    First, regarding the passage from Colossians about “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs,” the RP’s I know (Ref. Pres. Ch. No. America, who are exclusive, a capella-only psalm-singers) state that the book of Psalms is divided into three types, and these 3 groups of songs in Colossians are a reference to those three types of psalms.

    I appreciate Jeffrey’s question above: which element of worship are we dealing with? Is it like the sermon? Is it like scripture reading? Is it like prayer? Well, as a woman, I’d say that I’m not allowed to preach, but I am allowed to sing. Clearly (to me, anyway) the singing in worship is not held to the same standard as the preaching. In preaching, men ask that God speak through them, to feed the sheep. We don’t ask that, in singing. Is it like scripture reading? If so, should we not just read the scripture, instead of adding musical notes to it? If we can add musical notes to scripture, why can we not add it to other things that are spoken in worship? If the pastor sang a portion of his sermon, instead of speaking, would he suddenly be offensive to God? I’m not being silly here; I think it’s a viable question. Why, when we add music to it, does it have to be scripture only? Is it b/c the congregation as a whole is doing it, and therefore we must be more careful about what they say? If that were true, we should not allow the congregants to pray aloud either.

    Personally, I don’t think we should arrive at scripture-only singing via the regulative principle. We’d be in danger of regulating out the sermon. But in our hearts we should long to sing God’s Word more than man’s words. The RP’s I know have almost the ENTIRE BOOK OF PSALMS committed memory. What could we desire more than that?

    To anyone, however, who advocates only singing the psalms and not other scripture, my objection is this: I cannot imagine worship in which I could never again sing the name of Jesus. I think Christians should not back away from proclaiming his name in worship. Much as I love the psalms, they are limited in this way. There is little of the cross, the resurrection, etc. Any ideas about this?

  35. Cris Dickason said,

    April 6, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I’ve been watching from the sidelines, not sure I want to chime in, but this happens to coincide with (1) my own “wonderings” and (2) we are covering Eph 5:15-21 tonight in our mid-week study/prayer groups at my church (OPC).

    There is a general reluctance to tie psalm, hymn or (spiritual) song to specific parts or sub-genres or types of psalms in the OT Books of Psalms. For many commentaries exclusive psalmody is not raised or addressed. Not Hodge, not Hoehner, not Thielman, not O’Brien, not Snodgrass, not even Calvin (comm on Eph. & Col)!

    There is often mention made that psalm = OT Psalter; Hymn = Christological hymns, rehearse the saving events; Song = immediately inspired by the Spirit (1 Cor 14:26). Protestants writing since 1965 will reference Ralph P Martin, Worship in the Early Church.

    Hoehner: “While one cannot be dogmatic, the NT church may have followed the OT and Judaistic practice, as it had in other instances, by singing the psalms with a stringed instrument.” Everyone notes the historical meaning (etymology) of the verb psallo as the plucked bowstring or string.

    another interesting point, brought out by Bryan Chapell (Reformed Expository Comm): with the reciprocal pronouns: there is a horizontal element in worshiping God. Others might prefe to say, the corporate, community aspect or context. But the vertical/horizontal makes a striking point.

    Now if I wanted to be cavalier I would see the modern connection of the plucked string to the modern mandolin, like Monroe’s 1923 F-5 or David Grisman’s F-5. Or maybe a Gibson Mandocello! But I won’t go there!

    -=Cris=-

  36. Cris Dickason said,

    April 6, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    One more point – quite sincerely and seriously – I find it very hard to think we are not permitted to come before God in praise and adoration and not be allowed to use lyrics or words that include the name of the Son of God.

    How could the Church of the risen Lord Jesus Christ not be allowed to come before Him and not sing His name? If we give thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the name above all names, the name by which he is declared with power to be the Son of God, how can that name be forbidden us in song? (Eph 5:20; Phil 2:9-10; Rom 1:3-4)

    -=Cris=-

  37. April 6, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    [...] Heidelblog comments are here and Greenbaggins comments are here. [...]

  38. mary kathryn said,

    April 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Another thought — Surely the psalms give us the example to sing in worship about the might acts of God, to praise and thank Him for those acts specifically. How can we be limited only to acts that He did before David’s time? Aren’t the acts of our redemption and Jesus’s resurrection some of His greatest acts of mercy and power? If we only sing the psalms, how will we sing of these specific acts in history?

    And when I sing Psalm 144, and I tell God that I will sing a new song to Him, am I lying, if I then only sing old songs that have been sung for centuries?

  39. John Harutunian said,

    April 6, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Some great observations here about the desirability, even the necessity, of singing hymns in worship. I’d add three more.

    1. If the Church doesn’t have the authority to bind Christian consciences by imposing uninspired texts on a congregation, there can be no basis for a pastoral prayer in worship. Unless, that is, one holds that the pastor is only offering up his own personal prayer, while the congregation does a form of “spiritual eavesdropping.” But surely, the pastor is in fact voicing the praises, aspirations and needs of the congregation -and the congregation is expected to respond with an “Amen”, either silently or aloud.

    2. To those who claim that the Bible teaches that singing and praying are inevitably two different activities, I would say: Check Psalm 72:20: “The prayers of Jesse the son of David are ended” -clearly referring to all of the previous Psalms as prayers.
    In view of the Jewish makeup of the New Testament Church, the most natural question would be: “What Biblical warrant do we have for assuming that the prayers in the early New Testament Church were _spoken_ rather than sung or chanted?” If anything, this is where the burden of proof lies.

    3.Psalm 22 opens with David’s heart cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Christians, standing in the light of full New Testament revelation, know that on the cross Christ spoke those words on their behalf and in their stead. The point is, He spoke them so that we would never have to. Indeed, we have God’s explicit promise “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” in Hebrews 13:5.
    This is not to deny that we may sometimes feel forsaken, and cry out as David did, in the context of adverse circumstances. But the view that God has commanded us to imply something contrary to His promise -to imply that He has in fact forsaken us (which we do if we sing this Psalm to Him in worship, and mean the words we’re singing)- this surely violates clear Biblical teaching.

  40. bsuden said,

    April 6, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    [Hot Potato Alert. Reformed Discussion on Worship Song. Code Red. Ding! Ding! Ding!]

    With all due respect to the other points of view here, I am with proregno. He mentioned Bushell’s Songs of Zion. Unfortunately it is out of print. While C. Coldwell originally was working with DB to come up with a new 2010 edition, last I heard Chris had to pull out. It is the contemporary classic on the question, unanswered (and yes, unanswerable!) as well as blacklisted in contemporary P&R churches.

    In lieu of Bushell, Singing A New Song, a collection of essays with HO Olds leading off , edited by Beeke and Selvaggio along with M. Lefebvre’s Singing the Songs of Jesus would be the most recent (2010) defenses of psalmody for those interested which address the standard objections and questions to the historic practice.

    As per Bushell primarily, the P&R churches largely sang psalms exclusively. Yes, there were some exceptions, but uninspired hymnody pretty much came into P&R churches with the First and Second Awakening, ie. revivals.

    Still the West. Stnds. as a whole – the WCF, Catechisms, Dir. Public Worship and Form of Ch. Govt. – affirm psalmody (Eph. 5 and Col. 3 were the prooftexts for psalmsinging in WCF 21:5). The divines edited a psalter to that end as can be seen in the Minutes (Sess. 535, p.163), which psalter later became the classic Scotch Psalter of 1650. They are also on record as opposing the introduction of a psalter version other than the one they edited and recommended, when House of Lords (who were put up to it by Barton, its author) put the question to the Assembly (Sess. 627, p.221). After all, the Assembly was charged in the SL&C with promoting uniformity in doctrine, worship and government for the 3 kingdoms.

    They saw the reading and singing in worship as being restricted to the inspired text and the preaching and praying as based upon Scripture, but with (obviously) freedom to enlarge and apply Scripture in that preaching necessarily involves the G&N consequences of a text. Neither does a sermon consist in the verbatim repetition alone of a text and other corollary verses.

    As for prayer, the disciples asked “how” to pray and were given a model – not a prayer book – just as footwashing is an example of Christian humility and not a sacrament.

    But singing is not praying or preaching, though the psalms include prayers. Rather singing is primarily the praise of God and the Psalms tell us how to do that infallibly. Bushell would argue that to conflate inspired and uninspired songs leads to, if it is not already, a downgrade in the church’s doctrine of inspiration.

    The historical redemptive plea for new songs to accompany the New Testament departs from the biblical pattern of God progressively giving both inspired scripture and inspired song to his people culminating in the New Testament, for which the OT Psalter is sufficient without any need of replacement or even supplement by new (note bene) uninspired song.

    1&2 Chronicles is quite clear that David under inspiration chose certain families of the priests to play instruments and be prophetic singers and inspired songwriters. IOW the OT forerunners of Fanny and Bing didn’t make the cut.

    That Christ is not explicitly named in the psalms, does not stop the NT writers from making the Psalms, along with Genesis, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, one of the most quoted OT book. Dabney’s remarks regarding the WCF as being theocentric, rather than Christocentric are also relevant.

    The P&R generally restricted the singing to the psalms versus inspired songs, because they figured whatever the Lord didn’t see fit to include in the psalter, was not meant to be sung. (While I enjoyed RS Clark’s Rec. Ref. Worship, in all fairness he should have dealt with this objection to his recommendation of the practice.)

    A new song in Scripture means singing a song with renewed (regenerated) understanding and affirmation of what is being sung.

    Thank you.

  41. bsuden said,

    April 7, 2011 at 12:13 am

    oops. left out #29.
    While the Apostles Creed is appended to the Shorter Catechism because it was “anciently received by the churches of Christ”, it is neither “canonical scripture”, a “prayer”, a song or a sermon. Yet that I know of, the RPW does not per se forbid the congregation from confessing its faith by way of reciting a creed or confession. WCF 21:5 does talk about religious oaths and vows which arguably might include the same.

  42. proregno said,

    April 7, 2011 at 3:12 am

    #30 Jeff, thanks, dr. Clark answered that objection in his follow-up:

    “The principle that they understood but that we have forgotten is that we are not canonical actors. We live in the period after the revelation and formation of the canon. We are recipients of canonical revelation. People received prophecies and revelations during the canonical period that we do not now receive. That’s my response to the question “why can’t we do what they did prior to the psalter?” I don’t know that we know exactly what they did prior to the revelation of the psalter but we can assume that God supplied them with songs as witnessed by the psalm of Moses. There are lots of things that we can’t do now that they did then (e.g., slaughter animals or be teleported by the Spirit from place to place).”

    #36/38:

    A fourth argument for the use of uninspired songs in divine worship may be called ‘the dispensational argument’. Be it observed again: this is a negative argument. It insists that the old Testament psalms are unsuited to the worship of the New Testament Church. It is argued that these psalms belong to an imperfect dispensation, and that they do not reflect the light of God’s complete revelation. It is said that the New Testament revelation provides new truth which should be expressed in praise, and so new (albeit uninspired) songs are needed. But there is no proof offered to show that God commands us to make and use uninspired hymns. This argument merely seeks to condemn the inspired psalms which God has commanded us to sing. And the ground of this condemnation is that the psalms were written before Christ came to the world.

    This argument contains one very dangerous assumption. It is the assumption that the Old Testament is inferior to the New Testament. It assumes that what was earlier was lower and what was later was higher. But the Bible teaches no such doctrine. It teaches, rather, that the whole scripture is equally high. The revelation of God is progressive. But it is progress from partial to complete, rather than from lower to higher. As Augustine said, ‘The New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed’. The Modernist notion that the religion of the New Testament is an evolution from a more primitive religion in the Old Testament is in error. The religion that God began to reveal in Genesis, is the same as that which He finished revealing in Revelation. Moreover, it is a part of this false assumption to imagine that what was written in the Old Testament, was written primarily for Old Testament times. This is categorically denied by Peter, who, speaking of the Old Testament prophets declares that ‘the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel’. (1 Peter, 1:11,12.) The Spirit who inspired Old Testament scripture was the spirit of Christ. And He testified, not some lower truths, but just the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow. Those who argue against the psalms insist that the Old Testament does not fully reveal the sufferings of Christ. But Peter says that they testify of this very thing, and that they wrote these things—not for themselves—nor for those who were living in their day—but for us. If the Old Testament writers wrote of His sufferings and the glory to follow, and if they wrote these things expressly for us, then it is evident that we do not need uninspired hymn writers to do this work over.

    It is sometimes said that in the singing of the psalms one is denied the privilege of singing of the Saviour who has now come. In other words, it is commonly alleged that there is not enough of Christ in the book of psalms. This is a really astonishing thing. For Christ Himself said that the book of psalms was written about Him. (Luke 24:44.) His own dying words were quoted from Psalm 22. The last fellowship with His disciples was in singing the great Hallel (Psalms 115-118) at the Last Supper. And then by the mouth of His servant Paul, He commanded the Churches to keep on singing the psalms. And why not? He Himself, by the Holy Spirit, was the author of them. And the truth is that there is more of Christ in every psalm written by Him before He came to the world, than in any hymn written by mere men after He came.

    Along the lines of this argument, it is said that there is, in the experience of the Christian believer, a response to New Testament revelation which brings forth thoughts and meditations inadequately expressed in the psalms. But it is interesting to note that mighty men of God have testified to exactly the opposite opinion. Athanasius, the champion of Christ’s deity in the fourth century, said, ‘I believe that a man can find nothing more glorious than these Psalms; for they embrace the whole life of man, the affections of his mind, and the emotions of his soul. To praise and glorify God, he can select a Psalm suited to every occasion, and thus will find that they were written for him’. (Treatise on the Psalms.) Basil of Caesarea said, ‘The book of Psalms is a compendium of all divinity; a common store of medicine for the soul, a universal magazine of good doctrines, profitable to everyone in all conditions’. Augustine asked, ‘What is there that may not be learned in the Psalter?’ He called it ‘an epitome of the whole Scriptures’. Luther called the Psalms ‘my little Bible’. While John Calvin said, ‘not without good grounds am I wont to call this book an anatomy of all parts of the soul, since no one can experience emotions whose portrait he could not behold reflected in its mirror’.

    Are these men mistaken? Is there something lacking in the psalms ? Or is it perhaps something lacking in us, rather than in the inspired psalms, that makes us prefer the uninspired songs of men ?” – GI Williamson

  43. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 7, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Proregno (#42): Thanks. I think I can understand the redemptive-historical argument.

    What do you make of Clark’s argument that “I don’t know that we know exactly what they did prior to the revelation of the psalter but we can assume that God supplied them with songs as witnessed by the psalm of Moses. ”

    Do you think we have warrant to believe that God directly supplied the songs sung in worship?

  44. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 7, 2011 at 9:43 am

    G.I. Williamson via proregno (#42):

    The revelation of God is progressive. But it is progress from partial to complete, rather than from lower to higher.

    Are these men mistaken? Is there something lacking in the psalms ?

    Doesn’t Williamson answer his own question? The Psalms are not defective; they are incomplete. In the past, God spoke through the prophets; now, He has spoken through His Son. When the multitudes in Revelation sing praise to the Lamb, they do not quote the Psalms, but sing a new song instead (Rev 5).

    This doesn’t make the Psalms “lower”, but “hidden” — which is not the way that God speaks to us now.

  45. Joel Weyrick said,

    April 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I wanted to add to what bsuden said in #40. I’ve been an EPer for a while now, but I just recently read Singing the Songs of Jesus. I regret that I didn’t read that book prior to having read arguments about EP. The book gives a sense of how an EPer looks at the Psalms, without really broaching much that is controversial. There are claims and explanations about singing the Psalms there that I hadn’t really considered after years of singing the Psalms. It’s almost as though when we look at the question of singing the Psalms that we focus too much on the controversy, and miss the basics. If we’d cover the basics better, I wonder if we could avoid some of the heat that comes when we discuss EP or ES.

  46. Cris Dickason said,

    April 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Response to #42. Some of Dr. Clark’s statements are repeated in italics to facilitate communication and clarity.

    A fourth argument for the use of uninspired songs in divine worship may be called ‘the dispensational argument’. Be it observed again: this is a negative argument. It’s only as “negative” as, say, the Epistle to the Hebrews. So, of course, it is not negative, because it is a simple recognition of historical progress, redemptive-historical progress. Using the term “dispensational” is an attempt to slap a pejorative association on the position.
    It insists that the old Testament psalms are unsuited to the worship of the New Testament Church. No one here has said the OT Psalms are “unsuited” to NT worship. Rather the question is, are not other songs also suitable to our worship in this era of redemptive history? Why is it not suitable to compose hymns that exalt Christ by name and rehearse his work for our salvation? Why is it not suitable to compose liturgical works in response to this new era in redemptive history, in response to the new revelation that accompany and document and deliver to us this new era in redemptive history? Yes, in response to the augmented canon, which is closed with the NT’s 27. Not arguing that we are adding to or extending canon, just responding to it in singing with our own words, the same as we respond in prayer with our own words, just as we (the church’s officers) proclaim the Word in our words. This doesn’t mean or imply the automatic approval for use of every composition of any or every Tom, Dick or Harry that hangs his shingle as a songwriter. Sessions and consistories, presbyteries and classes, assemblies and synods still need to vet the contents. That’s a form of pastoral oversight, and there are no silver bullets that lets us think once-and-done for any aspect of pastoral work.
    It is argued that these psalms belong to an imperfect dispensation, No one here has said that!
    and that they do not reflect the light of God’s complete revelation. That is not the best way to acknowledge the place of the Psalms or Isaiah or Deuteronmy (etc. 36 more times) in the chronological timeline of the canon’s production, but it’s obvious that God’s mighty acts, and the record of them in Scripture did not cease at the production of the book of Psalms.
    It is said that the New Testament revelation provides new truth which should be expressed in praise, and so new (albeit uninspired) songs are needed. But there is no proof offered to show that God commands us to make and use uninspired hymns.There is no prohibition in the NT. There is probable example in the “hymns” and “spiritual songs” of the prison epistles, the hymns sung in the Philippian jail (Acts 16), the singing mentioned in 1 Cor 14.
    This argument merely seeks to condemn the inspired psalms which God has commanded us to sing. No one has said anything of the sort!
    And the ground of this condemnation is that the psalms were written before Christ came to the world. Do any of the apostolic writings, that is, the NT canon make or assume such a condemnation? No. There is no argument that the older is less
    This argument contains one very dangerous assumption. It is the assumption that the Old Testament is inferior to the New Testament. No one here has said this. These assumptions are being read into the discussion by Dr. Clark.

    The Modernist notion that the religion of the New Testament is an evolution from a more primitive religion in the Old Testament is in error. There are no Modernists here arguing against the use of Psalms . This looks like an attempt to poison the well.

    Those who argue against the psalms insist that the Old Testament does not fully reveal the sufferings of Christ. No one here is arguing against the psalms. We are trying to if there is warrant for the psalms exclusively in the Church’s worship. To not be an exclusive psalmist is not the same as being an excluder of psalms!

    If the Old Testament writers wrote of His sufferings and the glory to follow, and if they wrote these things expressly for us, then it is evident that we do not need uninspired hymn writers to do this work over. This line of reasoning undermines the need for the NT canon.

    For Christ Himself said that the book of psalms was written about Him. (Luke 24:44.) His own dying words were quoted from Psalm 22. The last fellowship with His disciples was in singing the great Hallel (Psalms 115-118) at the Last Supper. None of this is being denied. However: First, Luke 24:44 makes use of “Psalms” as equivalent to Ketuvim/Writings; just as Luke 24:27 refers to the entire OT as “Moses and the prophets.” Second: This line of reasoning undermines the need for the NT canon.

    And then by the mouth of His servant Paul, He commanded the Churches to keep on singing the psalms. That is precisely something to be discussed and evaluated, not asserted(i.e., exegesis of Eph 5/Col 3, etc.).

    Along the lines of this argument, it is said that there is, in the experience of the Christian believer, a response to New Testament revelation which brings forth thoughts and meditations inadequately expressed in the psalms. That may or may not be so, but this continues to ignore the historical timeline, the fact that we have indeed progressed into a new era in history of redemption, with nothing but an assertion that the prior epochs songs are the only ones commanded for use and all others are expressly forbidden.

    Submitted with respect.

    -=Cris=-
    Cris A. Dickason
    M.Div., Westminster (East), 1982
    Ruling Elder, OPC (previously Elder & Deacon, Canadian Reformed Church)
    No Dispensatinalism or Modernism here (I know, that’s a little snarky, but there’s my “credentials”)

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Bob (#40):

    You raise an interesting point. Here in 2011, I happen to be a member of the PCA, whose BCO specifically specifies the singing of songs, hymns, and spiritual songs (rather than “psalms, psalms, and spiritual psalms”).

    But, as you point out, the Westminster Divines were EPers.

    So this creates a tension between tradition on the one hand and church government on the other. It appears to be the collective judgment of the PCA that Col 3 is *not* to be read as EP (cf. BCO 51); it appears to be the collective judgment of the WD that it is. Which one should receive more weight?

    What do you think?

    P.S. Not convinced on your “new song” reading, brother. Whenever we see “sing a new song” in Scripture, it’s attached to new words!

  48. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Cris also raises an interesting point. The difficulty with using the RPW is that it’s binary: commanded or prohibited. That’s on purpose, and a good thing, but it creates a problem when there’s an exegetical question. EPers and non-EPers alike claim Scripture command, not permission, for their views.

  49. Stuart said,

    April 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Jeff,

    So this creates a tension between tradition on the one hand and church government on the other. It appears to be the collective judgment of the PCA that Col 3 is *not* to be read as EP (cf. BCO 51); it appears to be the collective judgment of the WD that it is. Which one should receive more weight?

    As a fellow PCAer I have long thought this tension in our Standards is problematic. Whenever I have brought the issue up, very few people have considered it worthy of dealing with it in any substantive way. Good faith subscriptionism doesn’t ease the tension either. It seems to me we should want our Confession and our practice to match. Of course, there are those who argue the Confession writers were not as strict on the exclusive psalmody issue as we might think (Peter Naylor, Nick Needham), but even if that is the case, the Confession writers were more tied to singing the Psalms in worship services than most of our PCA churches would be today, and the language of our Confession seems to bear that out.

    The difficulty with using the RPW is that it’s binary: commanded or prohibited. That’s on purpose, and a good thing, but it creates a problem when there’s an exegetical question. EPers and non-EPers alike claim Scripture command, not permission, for their views.

    This is why the issues behind the issues are the ones we ought to be talking about in a discussion such as this. Otherwise we’re talking past each other. It’s like we’re using similar language but our dialect is different enough that we don’t quite understand each other.

    As I tried to point out in a comment above, EPers have a different hermeneutic than non-EPers. EPers apply the regulative principle differently than non-EPers. Epers have different view concerning redemptive-historical issues than non-EPers. And so we scratch our heads wondering why the other side doesn’t “get it” when we lay our arguments out, because we’re not seeing (or perhaps we’re simply ignoring) the differences in our approaches.

    I’d love to see someone tackle this issue on the level of hermeneutical method (and not the kind that spews out unhelpful pejoratives like “dispensational” when there is a disagreement about how to understand something in the OT).

  50. John Harutunian said,

    April 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Stuart, good point re: one’s hermeneutical method. What I’d like to see is someone who recognizes that most of the Psalms are sung prayers (the Second Book of Psalms closes with “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended” [Psalm 72:20]), and then shows from Scripture that the [mostly] Jewish New Testament church suddenly stopped singing their prayers and started speaking all of them. Where’s the evidence for this?

  51. Cris Dickason said,

    April 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    This is in response to #46 (myself) in response to #42. So, I didn’t catch that the person being cited by proregno shifted part-way through from R.S. Clark to G.I. Williamson. So, proregno, what’s the source for the quote from G.I.W?

    Just who was he interacting with?

    Thanks in advance,

    -=Cris=-

  52. proregno said,

    April 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    #46: Cris, the second quote is from GIW in #42, not from dr. Clark, sorry, I missed a ” in front of the sentence that starts with “A fourth argument …

    Thus, nor dr. Clark or rev. GIW make any accusations through that quote specifically related to any members of this list. Sorry for the confusion, and to protect these gentleman, I ask that if you were offended by the quote and the ‘dispentational’ argument, you can take it out on me, not GIW, who could have said it in another context, maybe against some charismatics and dispensationalists. Here is the source of the quote, for those who want to read the full article:

    http://www.nethtc.net/~giwopc/psalms.html

    43: Jeff, my answer would be, I do not know, as I do not know all the ‘specific’ laws Adam to Moses specifically knew and had to obey before Sinai. I think ‘we’ should work with the canonical approach, i.e. what we have ‘now’, and what it means for our question: with what songs should we worship our Sovereign Lord.

    I am open to be convinced from Scripture that maybe the Lord supplied the songs in those times, if you can help me.

    BTW, someone mentioned above, there is also a third reformed view on Eph.5 and Col.3, namely that those kind of songs mentioned in these verses, refer to songs given only directly by the Spirit for the congregations in the first century (1 Cor.14:26), when the Church were established, and that it was part of the ‘charismata/special gifts’ that past away after the apostels and the first century. The best theologian South Africa ever had, dr. JD Du Toit (called ‘Totius’, 1877–1953) believed in that explanation, following others (Godet, Henrici, De Pressensé).

    If this explanation is true, then:

    1. in the redemptive – historical context, one should also ask: why were these songs not written down for us in Scripture (specifically the NT), and, secondly, although some try to argue for a song here and there in the NT canon, why do we not have a list of songs, or a book of songs in the NT canon, like we have in the OT, the 150 Psalms ? … maybe, because, like the 10 Commandments is sufficient for NT times (fulfilled and obeyed in Christ), the Psalmbook is ‘sufficient’ also for NT worship in song (fulfilled and sang through the Spirit of Christ) ?

    2. Secondly, these verses then, understood as only for the first century church, are then at least no ‘proof text’ for modern day hymns, except if one belief like some charismatics that the Spirit still gives inspired revelation/hymns ? I know David and the other Psalm authors were Spirit-inspired by God, I do think the same is true for hymn-writers.

    My own question for all: where in Scripture is it commanded to sing man made hymns ? If you answer, nowhere, it is adiophora, then what are you going to do with the members that do not want to sing hymns, because every hymn you give to sing in worship service, you exclude many of your members from worshipping the Lord.

    That is why I would say, let us bind each other only to what is clearly commanded (see BC art.32), and even if we disagree at the end what we should or can sing, is it not better, more unifying, more peaceful, to only sing that which we all agree on, the Psalms ?

    Lastly, I also agree with #45 above, if we maybe focus more on the richness, depth, beauty, sufficiency, etc of the Psalms, and less on the ‘controversy’, we will see the Church in love return more and more to the Covenantal Psalms. A better understanding and appreciation of Psalms, will lead to more Psalmsing: Ps.47:7 (verse 6 in English translations):

    “Psalmsing tot eer van God, psalmsing! Psalmsing tot eer van ons Koning, psalmsing!” (Totius translation of the Afrikaans Bible, 1933/53)

  53. proregno said,

    April 7, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    #52: The sentence: “I do think the same is true for hymn-writers.” should read: I do ‘not’ think the same is true for hymn-writers.

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Proregno (#52):

    I am open to be convinced from Scripture that maybe the Lord supplied the songs in those times, if you can help me.

    I think I was unclear again! It was Clark’s argument, not mine, that the Lord supplied songs in those times. I was asking whether you thought his argument meets the standard of good-and-necessary inference.

  55. John Harutunian said,

    April 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Proregno-

    >even if we disagree at the end what we should or can sing, is it not better, more unifying, more peaceful, to only sing that which we all agree on, the Psalms ?

    Most Christians prefer to sing texts which extol Jesus Christ by name (rightly, in light of the New Testament emphasis on salvation being found in the _name_ of Jesus).
    So why is it “peaceful” to forbid the practice?

    >Gods Hymnbook is sufficient, as I believe God’s grace is sufficient for our salvation, Scripture is sufficient for preaching, teaching, etc, the two sacraments are sufficient, the Lord’s Day is sufficient, etc.

    A friend of mine was converted through reading “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. Does this mean that the Bible was “insufficient” for his salvation? Not at all. In the same way, many have been converted through the singing of a hymn (one which faithfully expresses Biblical truth).

  56. Cris Dickason said,

    April 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Proregno – Thanks for the link to G.I.’s material. Saved me from a Google-session! I won’t take anything out on anybody. Knowing it wasn’t directed to this thread puts it into a better framework. Not sure if I’m relieved that I haven’t crossed swords publicly with Dr. Clark or worried that I have with G.I. Williamson. I could run into G.I. at the OPC General Assembly in June!

  57. John Harutunian said,

    April 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Proregno-

    >where in Scripture is it commanded to sing man made hymns ?

    Neither does Scripture command us to offer up man made prayers in worship. Does that mean that there is Biblical warrant for forbidding any prayers in worship, other than those taken directly from Scripture? I think not. And Paul regulates prayer and singing in worship similarly, not differently (I Corinthians 14:15).

  58. John Harutunian said,

    April 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Proregno-

    I hope you don’t think I’m picking on you, but-

    >what are you going to do with the members that do not want to sing hymns, because every hymn you give to sing in worship service, you exclude many of your members from worshipping the Lord.

    But anyone can worship the Lord, any time, any place. And I, together with most other Christians, cannot worship the Lord by singing to Him an imprecatory Psalm. Neither can I meaningfully sing, “My God, my God, what hast thou forsaken me?”, knowing that God has promised never to do to (Hebrews 13:5).

  59. proregno said,

    April 8, 2011 at 3:39 am

    #58: John, no problem, I enjoy the discussions.

    I cannot understand why you could not sing the imprecatory Psalms, or Ps.22 for that matter. Please explain more.

    If we learn from the great deeds of God through history as revealed in Scripture(Ps.78), why can we not sing them ?

    We sing Ps.22, and all other Psalms in the light/context of the full redemptive history, i.e. in the light of the coming of Christ and His fulfillment in our stead (see Matt.5:17-20; Luk.24:25-27, etc). Because He fulfilled Ps.22, therefore we can sing it as a comfort that we will never be forsaken, because of Him (Rom.8:31-39).

    And remember, we not only sing ‘individualisticly’ but also ‘covenantly’, i.e. together with all the church through history, something that cannot be said for hymns, which are mainly determined by ‘us’ and our times and needs, not what God has revealed our needs are and should be through the experiences of the saints who gave us the Psalms.

  60. proregno said,

    April 8, 2011 at 3:49 am

    57: 1 Cor.14:15 says both singing and prayer are regulated, it does not answer the question about what the content of both should or could be.

    See previous messages above that explain the difference between prayer and singing as related but different elements of worship, esp when we talk about the content.

    56: Cris, say hello to rev. GIW, I only know him via e-mail, and do not know if he will remember me !

    55: John, all good books and people telling us about Christ and the Word does not convert us, it is only the Spirit through His Word that does that (1 Peter 1:23). Non inspired books and people could be instrumental, but are never sufficient, only the Spirit and Word is.

    54: Our misunderstanding of each other, is just another argument against fallible man making fallible hymns for the Church to sing. ;-)

  61. John Harutunian said,

    April 8, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Proregno-

    I Cor. 14:15 does say that singing and prayer should both involve the mind and the understanding. This is the only Scripture which compares singing and prayer, and it doesn’t lay down a strictly canonical basis for the first and a non-canonical one for the second. There is indeed no Scripture which lays down a precept for non-canonical prayers being accepted in worship -because such a precept would have been inappropriate. And since a hard and fast division between speaking and singing wasn’t found in Biblical times (it’s a post-Enlightenment phenomenon) any forbidding of singing non-canonical texts is artificial, and without biblical warrant.

    >See previous messages above that explain the difference between prayer and singing as related but different elements of worship, esp when we talk about the content.

    But when David referred to his Psalms as “prayers” (Psalm 70:20) he made no such distinction, regarding either form or content. The distinction represents a human tradition.

    >John, all good books and people telling us about Christ and the Word does not convert us, it is only the Spirit through His Word that does that (1 Peter 1:23). Non inspired books and people could be instrumental, but are never sufficient, only the Spirit and Word is.

    I’d agree that Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” expresses truths which have their source in the Bible. Doubtless the Holy Spirit used those truths in my friend’s conversion. But of course a good hymn will also have those same truths, won’t it?

    Regarding Psalm 22, it is just because Christ fulfilled it and suffered God-forsakenness “in our stead” (as you rightly point out), that I couldn’t sing “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” -and mean the words I was singing. This would be formalism in worship.

    Re: the imprecatory Psalms, I couldn’t ask God -either in song or in prayer- to blot anyone’s name out of the book of life (Psalm 69:28). Neither could I express a hope that the children and wife of an evil man be punished (Psalm 109:9). Rather, I would ask that God bring the person to repentance, that he may be forgiven.

  62. proregno said,

    April 8, 2011 at 8:54 am

    61: John, good points you make. I do not want to start going in circles, but I still think the fact that the Lord gave as a canonical singbook to sing, but not a canonical prayerbook, says a lot. The nature of prayer and preaching calls for our own words, not singing, especially not if the Lord already gave us a songbook.

    About the singing of imprecatory Psalms (rightly understood), see the following:

    http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2011/04/can-you-sing-about-retributive-justice.html

    Chapter 6: “Confusion and Glory (part 2): Cursing in Faith with the Psalms of Imprecation” (in Michael Levebre’s book: ‘Singing the Songs of Jesus – Revisiting the Psalms’ (Christian Focus, 2010)

    http://www.christianfocus.com/item/show/1363/-

    Chapter 7 in this book:

    http://www.heritagebooks.org/products/Sing-a-New-Song%3A-Recovering-Psalm-Singing-for-the-Twenty%252dFirst-Century.html

  63. Gage Browning said,

    April 8, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Just two quick questions for the EPr’s. Do you have any issue with singing “only” songs that are teaching and proclaiming Christ in “type and shadow” and forbidding songs which bring Christ out of the shadows. I really mean no offense here, since I am new to the EP only arguments, please allow for any “ignorance” on my part. My second question is, are most of the EPr’s Exclusive Psalms also accapella only? Since any “meter” would have been added much later, and since we don’t have Keniniah, the Levite, who was appointed by the king to teach the songs of Zion and to lead the people as they sing in the OT? – Sorry for the vailed “Petra” reference.

  64. John Harutunian said,

    April 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Gage, you’ve raised a telling point. EPers don’t approve of song-leaders. As a traditional church organist, I’m not big on them myself. But consider the larger picture: the NT church is to be restricted to a body of songs which were led by an appointed individual under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant the same songs are to be used -but now without a song leader? Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

  65. proregno said,

    April 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    63/64: The ‘vail’ (2 Cor.3:15-18), the ‘type and shadow’ has been taken away or fulfilled in Christ, so that ‘we’ can now – sing of Christ, about Christ, for Christ – from Christ’s own Word, the Psalms, because Christ were there in the Psalms, from the beginning. Christ did not get into the Psalms, or were revealed in the Psalms only after He became flesh, or after I believe and see Him there with a new heart and mind. No, He was there from the beginning:

    “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morningstar.” (Rev.22:16)

    They ‘type and shadow’ were our problem, not the Text’s problem, the shadow is taken away in our hearts and eyes.

    And, that is why we do not need ‘Christological or Messianic’ hymns, or we do not need man-made hymns that ‘bring Christ out of the shadows’, because we already have Christ in the Psalms, God’s inspired Word, via the prophesies that declare the times of the fulfillment, resurrection, glorification, etc (for example, Ps.2, 110). They are sufficient for 1000 BC, 50 AD, 2011 AD, etc. We must be changed, not God’s Songbook be added to. As we do not need new 10 Commandments in the NT times, so we do not need new worship songs, the Psalmbook is sufficient for the Church through all ages.

    BTW, there still are churches today that use ‘song leaders’, to lead the congregation in worship.

    Like I previously mentioned, even between EP’s there are difference about certain aspects, I for one have not studied the whole use of musical instruments enough to say anything about it. If a instrument or song leader is used to lead the song in the congregation, I do not see a problem with that, and would see it fall under ‘circumstances’ or the way the element of song is apllied in NT worship.

    As any system of belief, like Calvinism or our Confessions, I do not see the RPW or EP as infallible, yes, there could be many questions and even inconcistencies, but I see it as the most biblical and reformed system/hermeneutic for the understanding of worship.

  66. David R. said,

    April 8, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I was wondering about the question of why it is that the authors of our sung liturgy are Lutherans, Methodists and Anglicans, when I happened upon the following quote:

    “[I]f prayer is a form of song, why do we allow people to write our prayers (read: hymns) whom we would not allow in our pulpits to lead the congregation in prayer? For starters, our hymnals include some creations by women, which raises some difficult questions about gender and office. But not every male hymn writer is kosher either. The most popular hymn writer for English-speaking Protestants is Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley…. Many of Wesley’s hymns are generally acceptable, though the hymnals editors would sometimes have to alter words to excise a non-Calvinistic conception of the Christian life.”

    Here’s the essay: http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=42

    (The author is anonymous but if you’re like me, you’ll form an opinion about who wrote it, as the style and themes seem rather familiar!)

  67. J. Miller said,

    April 8, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Hello,

    As one who has recently come to the reformed church (OPC) and who has read Dr. Clark’s (whom I highly regard) RRC (and highly recommend), I have found myself coming down on the “less strict” application of RPW. I very much appreciate the discussion here. This topic is potentially the most contentious among reformed believers, yet as others have said, the handling of it here is marked by a genuine civility and spirit of charity that enables discussion and learning to occur.

    Another source that has been helpful for me – a number of articles by Dr. Gordon of Grove City College. He was kind enough to weigh in with some extended comments via email for my blog on this same topic. While holding to the RPW, he would yet take exception to EP and offers many arguments (both from Scripture and reasoning) similar to some proffered above. His article “Some Thoughts on Exclusive Psalmody” is especially worth reading.

    Again, thanks for all the helpful comments.

    Jack

  68. Ewan W. Wilson said,

    April 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Just very briefly- someone remarked that the EP principle would somehow undermine the right to add N.T. Scripture to the O.T canon, ie, extend the canon. It strikes me this line of argument is not a good one for hymns as it then is implying they have canonical status. Just a very fatigued, late night reflection from Scotland where EP has become a heated issue again with the main bastion of EP ( Free Church of Scotland, residual) ditching it and creating much internal strife in the process! It looks like they’ve also just lost , as a result,one of their most popular preachers to the tiny Reformed Presbyterian remnant. It is rumoured that the Reformed Presbyterians, whose Glasgow congregation suffered a slow death after losing their building through ‘complusory purchase’ by the Glasgow Council some decades ago, are keen to restart a city presence. They already conduct a regular outreach preaching station in the city’s southside and it seems they have been having discussions with a West End disaffected Church of Scotland congregation about possible reception into the R.P. denomination. This CofS congregation is Partick Gardner Street, traditionally the ‘Highland/Gaelic’ congregation. It has apparently dwindled in numbers after some years of being deprived the right of a call to a minister and the congregation obviously have seen the R.P. route as one way to avoid ultimate dissolution. Presumably they must own the building at local level ( somewhat unusual in the CofS but not unknown) to be able to offer it to the R.P.s In recent years quite a few Church of Scotland congregations threatened with dissolution by presbytery have hived off to the United Free Church of Scotland, some with, some without their building. Gardner Street is the first I’ve heard to go in the direction of the more conservative presbyterians, possibly because of its unique Gaelic evangelical heritage. However with the contentious issue of ‘gay’ clergy coming up at the next General Assembly it might well be the first of a small but not inconsiderable number. The Rev Kenneth Stewart who left the Free Kirk over EP being ditched ministered only a few blocks away from Gardner Street in his influential Dowanvale Free Church. There are at least two other EP congregations nearby- Partick Free Church Continuing and the Free Presbyterians.
    On the issue of singing Jesus’ name in worship, one wonders why this is so vital. Clearly no such N.T. songs have been given and certainly none preserved which is odd if it were so important. The Psalms take us deeply into communion with the Saviour and His sufferings. Could anything be more deeply spiritual or designed to bring us closer to our incarnate Lord?

  69. April 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    [...] have advocates of each position at each other’s throats (see the many excellent comments on the previous post), that I want to continue this discussion. Dr. Clark has favored me with an excellent response on [...]

  70. Joel Weyrick said,

    April 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    (#64) “Under the New Covenant the same songs are to be used -but now without a song leader? ”

    John,
    If I’m understanding the argument rightly, EPers have said that Moses, Joshua, and later King David were to be the spiritual leaders of Israel. They were to lead Israel into praise. Now, we are led in singing by the the perfect fulfillment of their spiritual kingship in Jesus. He acts as our songleader by mediating our worship. This is why we “sing the songs of Jesus.”

  71. Gage Browning said,

    April 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Interesting Joel- but my EP friends would not allow for us to sing the “songs of Jesus” without mentioning his name. I do not say this in a snide way, just merely to point out my understanding of the positions and arguments. As someone raised in a non EP tradition, it seems odd that the prescribed hymnbook, doesn’t mention his name. I understand the Psalms point to our beloved Savior to be sure, but it seems strange to forego his mention in song, but then to demand his mention in the sermon. As any good historical redemptive and/or Law-Gospel hermeneutic would demand.

  72. Gage Browning said,

    April 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    correction- should say “while mentioning his name.”

  73. Joel Weyrick said,

    April 8, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Gage, if Christ is our songleader, why don’t we consider what songs he sang for and with us? (This argument is completely borrowed from Chapter 3 from Singing the Songs of Jesus by Michael Lefebvre and the book is not intended to be a defense of EP.)
    So among many examples, we have the “king” singing to God. Psalm 69:9 “For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.” is applied to Jesus in John 2:17 and Romans 15:3. So, when we sing Psalm 69, we sing *with* Jesus about His devotion to the holiness of God’s house.

    Psalm 22:22 is described as Christ’s words in Hebrews 2:12. So, when the congregation sings Psalm 22, we are singing *with* Christ His words to God.

    In Psalm 37, David is singing to the congregation to do these things, yet in the Sermon on the Mount, this is attributed to Jesus himself. We aren’t the covenant mediator in Psalm 37, but in David and more fully in Jesus, who is the Mediator, we hear what he has to say to the congregation of God’s people and sing along with Him, after his lead.

    The book makes the case that we are singing the songs of Jesus, or to put it another way, the word of Christ, when we sing the Psalms. There are many other examples of just this.

    At this point, I want to note how we can’t write hymns that accomplish similar purposes for which the Psalms are intended. It’s true as you say that the Psalms point to Christ, but they accomplish much more than than that because they are the very word of Christ. Our hymns are written about Jesus (in the best hymns, of course), but the Psalms are written as a dialogue between God’s covenant people and God through our King as Mediator.

  74. John Harutunian said,

    April 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Ewan-

    >On the issue of singing Jesus’ name in worship, one wonders why this is so vital.

    The reason why most Christians consider it vital to sing the name of Jesus in worship is because of the weight which the New Testament attaches to that name. His name is closely bound up with His saving work (see Matthew 1:21). And it is that saving work which allows us to enter His presence in the first place, whether we do so in speech or in song. Further, Acts 3:16 informs us that it is through faith in the _name_ of Jesus that a cripple was made whole; and Acts 4:12 teaches us that it is by the _name_ of Jesus that we are saved.

    >Clearly no such N.T. songs have been given and certainly none preserved which is odd if it were so important.

    What would be odd would be the exclusion of the name of Jesus from the singing of His Church. The reason the absence of such N.T. songs seems odd to you is that (like all adherents to Exclusive Psalmody) you draw a hard line of distinction between singing to God and praying to Him. Most Christians consider any address of the Almighty -whether silent or aloud, whether extemporaneous or rote, whether in poetry or prose, whether spoken or sung- to be a form of prayer. From texts such as Psalm 4:1, Psalm 42:8, Psalm 55:1, Psalm 72:20, and Acts 16:25, it’s evident that the Biblical writers felt the same way.
    It’s also helpful to note that historically, a primary medium for the Church’s worship up until (roughly) the Enlightenment was chant -again, something which blurs the distinction between speech and song.

    proregno-

    >They ‘type and shadow’ were our problem, not the Text’s problem, the shadow is taken away in our hearts and eyes.

    Hebrews 10 informs us that the Law “has only a shadow of the good things to come” -that we are now “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 3, Paul informs us that “the revelation of the mystery” of Christ, specifically, that we Gentiles are now welcomed in His body, “in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the spirit (verse 5).”

    >Because He fulfilled Ps.22, therefore we can sing it as a comfort that we will never be forsaken, because of Him (Rom.8:31-39).

    I’m afraid you missed my point. When we sing “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” we’re addressing God, aren’t we? And we know from Scripture that in fact He doesn’t forsake his people. (This was a heart-cry on David’s part, not a statement of theological truth.)

    >we already have Christ in the Psalms, God’s inspired Word, via the prophesies that declare the times of the fulfillment, resurrection, glorification, etc (for example, Ps.2, 110). They are sufficient for 1000 BC, 50 AD, 2011 AD, etc.

    So why did God supply us with the Gospels and the Epistles?

    >If we learn from the great deeds of God through history as revealed in Scripture(Ps.78), why can we not sing them ?

    I agree! And one of these great deeds was the transformation of Saul, the enemy of the Church, to Paul, one of the greatest Christians of all time. And we do sing of this deed in the hymn by John Ellerton:

    “We sing the glorious conquest before Damascus’ gate,
    When Saul, the church’s spoiler came breathing threats and hate;
    The rav’ning wolf rushed forward full early to the prey;
    But lo! the Shepherd met him and bound him fast today.

    Lord, teach thy Church the lesson still in her darkest hour
    Of weakness and of danger, to trust thy hidden power:
    Thy grace by ways mysterious the wrath of man can bind,
    And in thy boldest foeman thy chosen saint can find.”

    It’s this man-made hymn which enables us to fully obey the divine injunction of Psalm 78, isn’t it?

    David R. -you quote John Murray:
    >we may not say that the offering of prayer and the singing of praise to God are the same thing and argue from the divine authorization we possess respecting the one to the authorization respecting the other.”

    Murray’s whole case rests on the assumption that the entire book of Psalms fits into the category of “sung praise”. In reality, a number of the Psalms contain very little in the way of praise (Psalms 1, 14, 38, 39, 88); and Psalm 88 consists entirely of anguished supplication.

  75. John Harutunian said,

    April 8, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Joel-

    >EPers have said that Moses, Joshua, and later King David were to be the spiritual leaders of Israel. They were to lead Israel into praise.

    Right -but they didn’t lead the singing! I don’t deny that Jesus mediates our worship; it just seems strange that God would have wanted the Psalms to be led by a trained musician under the Old Covenant, but, according to most EP-ers, He doesn’t want it now.

  76. Joel Weyrick said,

    April 9, 2011 at 12:36 am

    John- Sure they led the singing. Moses led in Exodus 15, Deut. 31-32, Joshua in 32:44 leads along with him. Deborah and Barak led the nation in singing in Judges 5. David leads in a song of lamentation in 2 Sam. 17-27. David leads the nation in song again in 2 Sam 6:13-16. King Hezekiah leads the nation in song in Isaiah 38:20. In fact, whenever we see the congregation singing in public worship, they are singing after the ruler. That’s a big difference between other songs in the Bible and these particular ones.

    Again, Hebrews 2:11-12, “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

    “I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

    So Jesus will tell to his brothers God’s name and in the midst of the congregation sing God’s praise. Is he not leading the song here? It seems that he is leading in singing the Psalm that is His word. (Psalm 22)

    Possibly more to your point (?), the entire organization of the musicians and psalmists were under the King’s direction. 1 Chronicles 25 (esp. 1-2,6). Verse 2, “Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah, sons of Asaph, under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied under the direction of the king.” Verse 6 says,”They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman were under the order of the king.”

  77. John Harutunian said,

    April 9, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Joel-

    I checked your references, and I really don’t think these individuals, as a rule, were “song leaders”. Exodus 15:1 simply tells us that “Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song unto to Lord”. It’s only natural that as the nation’s leader Moses be mentioned by name. Beyond that, he may well have taken the initiative in getting the singing underway (this would be roughly analogous to a warrior who leads people into battle without functioning as a military general). Deuteronomy 29:30 records only that Moses spoke the words of his song “in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel” -this sounds like a solo rendition to me (which became a duet when Joshua joined him in 32:44). Judges 5 is another duet, this one with Deborah and Barak, with no record of anyone else joining in: indeed the use of the first person singular in verse 7 (“until I, Deborah, arose) makes it unlikely that the crowd of Israelites was joining in. 2 Samuel 6:13-16 records dancing and shouting on David’s part, but not singing (though again this may have been accompanied by singing which David initiated). In 2 Samuel 18:33 the words of David’s lament were “Would that I had died instead of you, O, Absalom, my son, my son.” At this point he was evidently speaking in solitude rather than singing in the company of others (much less leading them in song). Chapter 19 tells us only that the people mourned when they heard of David’s lament.
    Hezekiah may well have been an exception; since it was his composed songs that were to be “played on stringed instruments” at “the house of the Lord” he probably had a leadership role in their performance.
    Regarding 1 Chronicles 25, King David certainly had authority over the musicians, just as he would have had over everyone else. But I don’t see that either this passage or any of the other ones designates the individual in question as a “conductor” of singing.
    Hence your implication that the visible earthly musical leadership found in Old Testament worship (the Psalms) was, under the New Covenant, transferred to an invisible (though present) Christ and thus “spiritualized” in a Platonic kind of way -this is something which I don’t see in Scripture.

  78. April 9, 2011 at 8:59 am

    On the historical/intent question of the Westminster Assembly, I don’t think Nick Needham’s work stands scrutiny. See Matthew Winzer’s lengthy review, Westminster and Worship Examined: A Review of Nick Needham’s essay on the Westminster Confession of Faith’s teaching concerning the regulative principle, the singing of psalms, and the use of musical instruments in the public worship of God, which appeared in The Confessional Presbyterian journal volume 4 (2008). This review is also available for $5 as a PDF at the link. Currently full sets of issues 1 (2005) through 6 (2010) are still available at a sale price. We should be releasing details on the 2011 issue within a month or so. If anyone is interested in making a submission, the window is fast closing for the 2011; see the submissions page for details. Pardon the commercials.
    Review of Needham: http://tinyurl.com/3fyl8wz

  79. Joel Weyrick said,

    April 9, 2011 at 10:19 am

    John, after your look at those passages, you do not believe that it was a required duty of the king (or ruler) to lead the singing of the people? Are you contending that the “Sweet Psalmist of Israel” did not lead in singing the Psalms?

    You are satisfied that because they were playing Hezekiah’s music after him that he was leading them in song. How is that different from Moses’ Song; do you think that Israel did not sing Moses’ Song?

  80. svandyken said,

    April 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Over-reaching is generally not helpful to one’s cause. In Dr. Clark’s April 5 post at HB, he says “A consistory does not have authority to bind God’s people, upon pain of discipline, to respond to the reading or preaching of God’s Word with anything but God’s Word.” I’m no academic, but I believe this is what they call a “straw man”.

    I have never heard of a member (of any Reformed church) being disciplined for failure to sing . . . hymns or otherwise. In fact, if I understand the situation correctly, Dr. Clark abstains from singing non-psalms in his own congregation — without threat of discipline. Where this straw man came from is more than a little bewildering.

    BTW: in my congregation we happily sing from the 150 Genevan psalms (with great gusto, I might add) — as well as the occasional scriptural hymn. There is nothing that compares with a congregation singing in unison from the majestic and reverent Genevan Psalter (IMHO).

  81. John Harutunian said,

    April 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Joel –

    After reading those Biblical passages, I see no explicit indication that Moses, Deborah or Barak led any singing, nor that it was their required duty to do so. One might assume that, being leaders. they “led the singing” only in the sense of _initiating an activity_. That assumption makes sense -but song leaders in worship today do a lot more than that, don’t they? They set a specific tempo, keep it moving, and indicate appropriate dynamic levels and expression through their gestures.
    I’d put David and Hezekiah in a different category simply because they were skilled instrumentalists. They didn’t just sing; they also played. On this basis I’d say that it’s _more likely_ that they were closely involved with the musical performances than Moses, Deborah or Barak.
    But the main issue here is your apparent contention that musical leadership is no longer necessary in worship, because Christ now supplies it in a way which He didn’t do under the Old Covenant (correct me if I’m mistaken). That the visible, earthly reality of a human being in charge of the singing has now been replaced by the “spiritual” reality of Christ now being in charge.
    The reason I put “spiritual” in quotes is because you don’t seem to have the Biblical concept of “spiritual” in mind -that concept being “empowered by, or filled with, the Holy Spirit.” If I understand your position correctly, what you have in mind is “spiritual” in the sense of “non-material”, “incorporeal”, “disembodied”, etc. -something which hence is inherently superior to the physical. This is why I used the word Platonic. And, even though I certainly acknowledge Christ as sovereign over all that we do, including worship music, this Platonic concept is something which I don’t find in the Bible.

  82. Joel Weyrick said,

    April 9, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    John, actually, we have a precentor that goes up to the front and “conducts” our worship. He or she isn’t our songleader in the sense that Christ is. Every RPCNA church that I’ve been to has a precentor, although sometimes they aren’t skilled enough to guide us in the way that a conductor would. Often those precentors stay standing in the congregation.

  83. John Harutunian said,

    April 10, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Joel-

    Thanks for the clarification; a precentor to facilitate worship sounds like a good idea. Where we’re on two different wavelengths involves the concept of “songleader” -someone who introduces the hymns, sets the tempo, keeps the beat steady, etc.
    If it’s thought of in that way, then you’d be saying that Christ didn’t do those things for His worshiping people in the OT, but He does them now -even though He is in heaven!
    Which I think both of us would disagree with!

  84. bsuden said,

    April 10, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    #43 Hi Jeff. Been away from the computer.

    We know there was no singing in the ceremonial worship of the tabernacle/temple until David under the inspiration of God re-appointed/apportioned the duties of the Levites to include song writing, musical accompaniment and choirs ( as above, #40)

    1 Chronicles 25:1,6 Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was . . . All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king’s order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman.

    2 Chronicles 29:25 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king’s seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.

    #47
    It’s called “animus imponentis (the intent of the one imposing)” as per p.162 of Clark’s RRC. The paraphrases of Watts, if not the influence of revivalism opened the door in 1831 for the first hymnal in American presbyterianism and since then uninspired hymnody has been the understanding of WCF 21:5. See DGHart’s “Psalters, Hymnals, Worship Wars and American Presbyterian Piety” in . <a href=”http://www.heritagebooks.org/products/Sing-a-New-Song%3A-Recovering-Psalm-Singing-for-the-Twenty%252dFirst-Century.html”<Singing A New Song since Bushell is out of print.

    “New song”? Please. We hasn’t done our homework. The phrase is found in the Psalms seven times, Isaiah once and Revelation, twice.

  85. bsuden said,

    April 10, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Singing A New Song

  86. bsuden said,

    April 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    #49, Stuart,
    Yes, there is a fundamental divide in hermeneutic/presupposition. IOW while I too, appreciate the tone in which this discussion is proceeding, I am also hearing the same old mischaracterizations and misunderstandings of the original WCF/psalmody position. I suppose it ought not to surprise me, but in a way, it still does.

    For one, there is a persistent confusion of categories and singing and praying are conflated. Yes, we are to sing and pray with understanding as per John H. in #57 or others, but we are also to read and preach with understanding, no? IOW the real question is not what are the similarities between the elements in worship, but what are the differences?

    Yes, the Psalms include/are prayers. And we learn to pray from them. But they are primarily the inspired praise of God and to balk, for instance at the imprecatory psalms is to reveal more about us than about the word and its supposed OT deficiencies for NT worship. Rather we worship a God far above our imagination, feelings and opinions. He is both loving and just and is to be praised and adored in all his attributes and ways. Consequently the emphasis in our worship is theocentric, rather than Christocentric, much more – God forbid – anthropocentric.

    Again, as per Dabney on the WCF, without God, Christ as a savior from sin and a mediator is a meaningless concept or doctrine, if not an entirely fictitious entity. (Are you listening Mr. Bell? I’ve just given you the theme for your new theological novel. My fee for this service can be sent via PayPal . . .)

    Likewise the Minutes of the Assembly are quite clear. Express command, good and necessary consequence and approved example are the several “ways by which the will and appointment of Jesus Christ is set out in Scripture” (See Sess. 634, 636, 640 & 649, pp. 227-239. Granted this is in regard to the government of Christ’s church, but it still applies to worship.) If you will, we have no express commandment to pray in worship, but we do have example and consequence of commandment.

    Of course, all this stumbles John Frame, who likewise can find no command in Scripture for preaching. (Worship In Spite of the Truth, 1966, p.44). Not that Prof. Frame isn’t ably abetted by J Jordan, S Schlissel, J Meyer, M Horne, P Leithart, D Wilson or RJ Gore in his deconstruction of the reformed doctrine of worship and fundamentalist read of the Second Commandment, but he has certainly done enough all on his own, without their help. And for many unfortunately, his opinion is decisive.

    Likewise, we have no command to necessarily add to the OT hymnbook, in that it is sufficient, much more it is contrary to the historical redemptive hermeneutic to add uninspired song to the inspired redemptive history of Scripture. That the Psalms tells us eloquently and emphatically to praise the Lord for his wondrous works, is to say they are telling us to sing the psalms themselves, not to come up with our own songs, regardless of the spin that can be put on Eph. 3 and Col. 5, Calvin in his commentaries notwithstanding. This, particularly in light of his commentary on the Psalms, as well his original reform in Geneva included the revival of psalmsinging, along with the sacraments, marriage and catechism.

  87. John Harutunian said,

    April 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    >But singing is not praying

    Seems to me that nearly all Christians would say that if you’re addressing God, you’re praying. The specific content may be petition, adoration (or praise), supplication, or thanksgiving. If ordered pitches are present (as in chant), I don’t see why it should suddenly cease being prayer.

    >That the Psalms tells us eloquently and emphatically to praise the Lord for his wondrous works, is to say they are telling us to sing the psalms themselves

    Psalm 105:2 reads, “Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of _all_ his wonderful works!”
    All. Did God stop doing wonderful works once the Psalter was completed?
    If the conversion of Saul wasn’t a wonderful work, I don’t know what was. So, we can best obey that commandment in our worship today by singing the hymn I quoted in #74.

    >We know there was no singing in the ceremonial worship of the tabernacle/temple until David under the inspiration of God re-appointed/apportioned the duties of the Levites to include song writing, musical accompaniment and choirs

    Where does Scripture say that there was no singing in worship prior to this? The human impulse to song being as ancient and as fundamental as it is, I’d say you need Biblical proof here.
    I agree with you about the theological deficiencies of Rev. Bell, however.

  88. bsuden said,

    April 10, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    87 John

    The ‘singing is praying is preaching is teaching’ paradigm has already been mined by Frame and crew – to the detriment of the reformed doctrine I might add. FTM we repeatedly sing the same songs in worship as a congregation. Nor does our God change. But our needs and our prayers do. Hence the divine Book of Praises, but no prayerbook per se.

    And as the Russian proverb goes according to Solzhenitsyn, while the man with an eye over his shoulder on the past stumbles, the man with both eyes in front of him, is blind.

    Like it or not, the original confessional paradigm consisted of reading, preaching, singing and praying. Two are restricted to the ipsissima verba of scripture, two are not. We have no problem with only reading the ipsissima verba of Scripture, but when it comes to the divine and inspired hymnbook, we are not content to only sing the same. What gives?

    (Is there such an overwhelming literacy and availability of Bibles today that short shrift is given to the reading Scripture as a distinct element of worship? Not that literacy is that overwhelming and Bibles weren’t available to the congregations of the Assembly’s day.)

    Is it that God has given us freedom to sing whatever we decide to sing in worship, so Eph. 5 and Col. 3? But to mix and match inspired and uninspired song is to detract from the doctrine of inspiration. Which is why it seems that inevitably the introduction of hymns leads to the eclipse of the psalms, though it is not an over night proposition.

    Likewise, if the conversion of sinners isn’t a wonderful work, I don’t know what is. Rather than glorify Paul, I’ll stick with the psalms, though. FTM would Paul be found singing that song or something like it in his day? When the psalms were at hand? I think not.

    Where does Scripture say that there was no singing in worship prior to this? The human impulse to [fill in the blank] being as ancient and as fundamental as it is, I’d say you need Biblical proof here.

    Where does Scripture say there was singing? And where there was, was it inspired or uninspired? Civil or ecclesiastical?

    My comments re. Bell are an extrapolation, but again, the whole theocentric orientation of the psalms versus the supposed christocentric emphasis of uninspired hymns (like the very popular Amazing Grace?) is to the point. Neither are the “Jesus only” pentecostals any credit to the uninspired hymn argument!

    Thank you.

  89. John Harutunian said,

    April 11, 2011 at 12:28 am

    >the whole theocentric orientation of the psalms versus the supposed christocentric emphasis of uninspired hymns (like the very popular Amazing Grace?)

    But I thought that Christ was at the center of the Psalms (David being a type)?

    >when it comes to the divine and inspired hymnbook, we are not content to only sing the same [ipsissima verba of Scripture]. What gives?

    Could you supply some Scripture which teaches that the collected Book of Psalms as such was intended to be Israel’s hymnbook?

    >But to mix and match inspired and uninspired song is to detract from the doctrine of inspiration.
    But we don’t detract from the doctrine of inspiration when we mix our uninspired prayers (as we’re praying along with the minister) with the inspired Lord’s prayer in the same worship service.

    >Rather than glorify Paul, I’ll stick with the psalms, though. FTM would Paul be found singing that song or something like it in his day?

    First, Paul’s greatness as an apostle, and especially his martyrdom, was fully appreciated only after he had run his earthly course -for obvious reasons it couldn’t be otherwise. And the hymn doesn’t glorify Paul. It calls him “the Church’s spoiler, breathing threats and hate”, a “rav’ning wolf”, a “spoil” (though “noble” as such) “cast at the Victor’s feet”. The text does contain two positive references to Paul -a
    “wise master-builder” and a “chosen saint.” But the only reference to “glory” is the glory of the risen Christ “that smote across his path.”

  90. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Bob, I’ll chew on “no singing until David.” Your point is not obvious to me yet. Yes, David appointed singers according to the command of God. I’m not getting from there to “there were not singers prior to David.”

    For example, “trumpets” were used at Jericho. Did they appear from nowhere? God gave the priests special ability to blow them without ever having practiced before? Seems fishy.

    But like I said, I’ll chew on it.

    But this needs response: “New song”? Please. We hasn’t done our homework. The phrase is found in the Psalms seven times, Isaiah once and Revelation, twice.

    Yes, quite. And *each* time it appears, it is attached to *new* material that was not previously in Scripture (with the possible exception of Is 42). I don’t see how “new song” could be more clear: A song that was not previously in existence.

  91. April 11, 2011 at 10:24 am

    FWIW, here is an extract from Bushell’s SoZ, 1993 ed., with his presentation of the meaning of new songs.

    http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/new_songs_of_zion.htm

  92. bsuden said,

    April 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

    89 John
    But I thought that Christ was at the center of the Psalms (David being a type)?

    Exactly, so no need for uninspired hymns like Amazing Grace to lift up the name of Jesus as per the argument for hymns.

    But we don’t detract from the doctrine of inspiration when we mix our uninspired prayers (as we’re praying along with the minister) with the inspired Lord’s prayer in the same worship service.

    Is this comparing apples to apples or crab apples to pineapples?

    1. Rather we do not rotate through various prayers lifted verbatim from the Bible mixed in with spontaneous ad lib “uninspired” prayers in worship. Prayers and sermons are generally not repeated verbatim as songs are from week to week, though the early Reformers did have set prayers.

    2. The Lord’s Prayer is a form of how to pray as per the catechisms’s exposition of it. Neither do we sing songs with a tacked on ending from the Psalter.

    Last, I’m sorry, but I don’t think any flowery hymn about Paul or whatever beats the Spirit of the Lord speaking through the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Sam. 23:1,2).

  93. bsuden said,

    April 11, 2011 at 11:11 am

    90 Jeff,
    A song that was not previously in existence.

    Exactly. A new inspired psalm that wasn’t in existence before.

    Yet as per Bushell’s extract on the same, NS are found 6 not 7 times in the Psalms.
    So now are homework is corrected.

  94. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Bob, I’m not tracking. Earlier, you said “A new song in Scripture means singing a song with renewed (regenerated) understanding and affirmation of what is being sung.”

    Now you seem to agree with me that “A new song refers to a song that was not previously in existence”? Or are we not in agreement?

    Help?

  95. Stuart said,

    April 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Since I’ve said before I think the issues behind the issue of EP are actually the best starting point for a discussion, I’ll offer a question as a suggested way of getting to the different frameworks EPers and non-EPers are using . . .

    What are the purposes of singing as an act of worship (other than to glorify God which for both sides is a given)?

  96. John Harutunian said,

    April 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Bob-

    >The Lord’s Prayer is a form of how to pray as per the catechisms’s exposition of it.

    But don’t OP churches recite it as part of their worship liturgy? Perhaps not “mixed in” with uninspired prayers but set apart from them. In the same way, a congregation could sing a couple of Psalms; then, at a later point in the service a couple of hymns. I don’t see that this would violate the unique inspiration of the Psalms.
    I think Michael Bushell does a good job of defending his concept of “new song” as it’s found in the Book of Revelation. He’s less convincing when it comes to the Psalms. Basically he falls back on three possibilities. The first is that when found in a Psalm, the expression “new song” simply refers to the particular Psalm in question. I can’t entirely rule this out; on the other hand if “Sing to the Lord a new song” is regarded as a worship command, it would then be impossible for us to fulfill it today. The second is that the term is to be interpreted proleptically: it represents a future development as being already existent. But this seems unlikely, since none of the Psalm contexts involve prophecy. The last is that it’s an instance of metonymy: calling something not by its own name, but by something else closely associated with it (e.g., “He sets a good table” -“good” referring not to the quality of the wooden object but of the food set upon it). I don’t see how this is applicable at all. In any case, none of Bushell’s interpretations make it possible for us to literally fulfill the command to sing a new song.
    The hymn about the conversion of Paul may not be to everyone’s taste. But the more important fact is: there is no warrant for limiting the Psalmist’s injunctions to praise God for his “deeds” and “works” to those deeds and works He accomplished before the Psalter was completed. We know about many deeds and works of God which the Psalmist didn’t know about; the conversion of Paul is only one of them.
    Regarding the fluid boundary between song and prayer, have you considered Psalm 42:8? “The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime: and His
    _song_ will be with me in the night, a _prayer_ to the God of my life [my emphases].”
    But all these are minor issues compared to my major point: where is the Biblical evidence that God gave the Book of Psalms to Israel (much less to us) for use as their exclusive hymnal? This needs to be shown from Scripture, and I can’t see that
    John Murray, or Scott Clark, or anyone else has done it.

  97. bsuden said,

    April 12, 2011 at 12:49 am

    94 Jeff,
    Since you want to argue that it means a new song, I went with and said essentially, yeah, it means at the minimum a new inspired song.

    96 John
    Glad to hear it you have looked at Bushell, at least on new songs. While I look at him again myself, regarding your last it seems pretty obvious on the face of it that that if God gives Israel an inspired hymnbook, one, he would desire them to sing out of it and two, just how could it be improved by uninspired songs?

    As re. the “fluid boundary” between song and prayer, that again is not the salient question. After all, song and prayer have didactic aspects to them also, just as the preaching and teaching. But if women are not to preach, but rather to be silent in church, maybe we shouldn’t let them sing either.

    Rather what are the things between them that differ? That is one of the presuppositions to all this that Stuart is talking about imo. If we all prayed by rote as we sing, it would be one thing, but we don’t though if we keep at this long enough, you might get me to argue that both our prayers and songs should be inspired and restricted to the Psalms! Might be an improvement all around.

    FTM if new inspired revelation and new inspired songs accompanied the new redemptive acts of God to the point that we now have 150 songs in the Sepher Tehillim or Book of Praises, it would seem to be a real switch in precedent in the NT if new uninspired songs are allowed, rather than that the prophetic and entirely sufficient psalter is now fulfilled and come into its own.

    IMO that is burden Eph. 5 and Col. 3 cannot carry, particularly when they can also be equally applied or understood as referring to the Psalms. David was full of both the Word and Spirit of Christ (2 Sam. 23:1,2), but not so Fanny or Charles.

    Thank you.

  98. John Harutunian said,

    April 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Bob-
    >if God gives Israel an inspired hymnbook, one, he would desire them to sing out of it and two, just how could it be improved by uninspired songs?
    But is it a hymnbook? If I gave you a hymnbook, and you opened it up and found no music, wouldn’t you think it was a book of sacred poems rather than hymns? Also, hymns aren’t an improvement over Psalms. They reflect God’s completed revelation as found in the Gospels and the Epistles, which Psalms don’t express. Granted, we address God in both of them, but their different content makes them a different kind of thing. It’s like saying that we don’t need creeds or confessions -because you can’t improve on the Bible. True enough -but creeds and confessions are valuable statements of Biblical truth. So are hymns (good ones, that is).
    >As re. the “fluid boundary” between song and prayer, that again is not the salient question.
    It is for those hymns which are sung prayers. As is, for example “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty; early in the morning our song shall rise to thee [etc.]” Hymns like this one help us to understand why David equated song with prayer (Psalm 42:6). They point against the conclusion that the two should be regulated differently.
    >After all, song and prayer have didactic aspects to them also…But if women are not to preach, but rather to be silent in church, maybe we shouldn’t let them sing either.
    But we pray to God, right? Exactly what are we supposed to be teaching Him? Yes, song can be didactic. But when a congregation sings, women aren’t teaching men as such. Men and women are teaching each other, or, more accurately, reminding each other of what they already believe. (Teaching is mostly reserved for the sermon, isn’t it?)
    Here’s a related thought. Prayer and song may be two different activities for Reformed Christians today. Can we assume that therefore they were such for the New Testament church? Especially since their mode of song was chant. (_Rhythmic_ music, that is, music having patterns of strong and weak beats, was reserved for dancing.)
    >FTM if new inspired revelation and new inspired songs accompanied the new redemptive acts of God to the point that we now have 150 songs in the Sepher Tehillim or Book of Praises, it would seem to be a real switch in precedent in the NT if new uninspired songs are allowed, rather than that the prophetic and entirely sufficient psalter is now fulfilled and come into its own.
    First, was the Book of Psalms Israel’s exclusive hymnal? It doesn’t claim to be. Some Psalms, like 51 and 88 primarily express confession and lamentation rather than praise of God for His redemptive acts. Second, though there are prophetic elements in the Psalms, just as there are elsewhere in the Old Testament (e.g., the protoevangel in Genesis 3:15), Jesus made a distinction between the Psalms and the Prophetic writings (Luke 24:44).
    Reformed scholar David Gordon has an excellent online article, “Some Thoughts on Exclusive Psalmody.” At the risk of making this an intolerably long blob (and turning off everyone who’s not as involved with this subject as you and I), I’ve copied parts of it, below. When you have time, read through them. (For what it’s worth, I’ve copied only those paragraphs most relevant to our exchange.) See if Gordon doesn’t have Scripture on his side. Thanks!

    Acts 2:41-42–“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

    One of the interpretive questions regarding Acts 2:42 is whether it merely records the activity of the people at Pentecost, or whether it records more generally their subsequent corporate life together. I concur with Calvin that the latter is more likely (Calvin argues for frequent communion in part by appeal to this text. Cf. Institutes, 4.17.44), and that this text is normative as a description of the early church under apostolic authority. The verb translated “devoted” (προσκαρτεροῦντες) does not describe the psychological state of those present, or the degree of their zeal; rather, it is employed by Luke to indicate those matters that are persevered in or continued in as non-negotiable. It is employed this way in Acts 6:3-4, for instance: “Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote (προσκαρτερήσομεν) ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Note here that the apostles determine to persevere in their non-negotiable duty of prayer and the ministry of the Word. In Acts 2:42, then, we have not a record of what the assembled saints merely happened to do on one occasion, but what they devoted themselves to doing on a regular basis, under apostolic supervision and approval.
    Calvin was not alone in viewing Acts 2:42 as a description of the regular meetings of the apostolic churches. Oscar Cullmann made the same observation:

    In the book of Acts instruction, preaching, prayer, and breaking of bread are mentioned, and mentioned in such a way as clearly to show that these elements were, from the beginning, the foundation of all the worship life of the Christian community. . .We know now the basis of early Christian worship; sermon, prayer, and supper.” (Cullmann, Early Christian Worship. Trans. A. Stewart Todd and James B. Torrance. London: SCM Press, 1953, pp.12, 20.

    If we grant that this text records the activity of the early apostolic church under apostolic oversight and with apostolic approval, then it becomes significant for the ordering of our churches in the NT era, as Calvin thought it was. Specifically, we will note the challenge then of how to understand “prayers” (ταῖς προσευχαῖς). Are we to understand the apostolic church to have been a non-singing church, or is it likely that the term here includes sung prayers as well as spoken prayers? I think the suggestion of F. F. Bruce is well-grounded, that the expression is a reference to the devotional worship of the church in general. Just as the Psalm of Moses (90) is referred to as a “prayer” (προσευχὴ) of Moses, so also I understand the reference here to be a reference to all of the devotional addresses of the saints to God, whether spoken or sung. Of course, the passage does not expressly indicate whether these “prayers” were OT psalms or otherwise, and the evidence of Acts 2:42 is not introduced to suggest that it is explicit on that point. I do think it is relevant to the question of whether the language of the Bible makes a clear distinction between song and prayer. I would suggest that it doesn’t; they are very similar elements of worship, elements of worship that, under certain circumstances, can even be spoken of by the usage of a single general term, προσευχὴ. Acts 2:42 then tends to militate against the exclusive psalmist view that prayer and praise are such different elements of worship as to be differently regulated.

    1 Cor. 14:26 What then, brethren? When you come together, each one has a hymn (ψαλμὸν), a lesson (διδαχὴν), a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

    It is very unlikely that Paul is here referring to canonical OT psalms, when he says “each one has a hymn/psalm.” It is far more likely that this refers to a hymn related to distinct NT realities, just as it is likely that the lesson, revelation, tongue and interpretation so relate. Nor can the force of this observation be evaded by pleading that the hymn is an inspired NT hymn, by allusion to verse 15: “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing (ψαλῶ) with the spirit and I will sing (ψαλῶ) with the mind also.” While it is possible that the first of these (sing with the spirit) is a reference to charismatic/inspired song, there is no reason to believe that the second (I will sing with the mind) is such a reference. Thus, there is nothing inherent in the verb itself, or the context, to suggest that it is a reference to anything other than an ordinary human song.

    When Christ entered human history incarnate, when he died and rose for God’s people, one would only expect, from the pattern revealed in the Psalms themselves, that there would be prophetic interpretation of this great act of God, and that there would be songs composed in response to the act. It is for this reason that many of us reject the arguments of exclusive psalmody. We reject them not because they have no plausibility; they have some plausibility. But we believe they come nowhere close to bearing the burden of weight that rightly rests upon them. How can one explain the silence of God’s people, who raised songs of praise, thanks, and lament at every comparatively-inferior moment in the history of redemption, when the supreme moment has arrived? What has held the tongue of the once-composing-and-singing people? What has curbed the devotional composition of a grateful people? The song of Revelation, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…” is precisely what one would expect. And yet, ostensibly, we must await heaven to sing that song. We may sing of the Lamb typologically through canonical psalms, but we may not sing of the Lamb expressly; even though Israel could sing expressly of deliverance from Babylon, and was not restricted to singing of it typologically through Exodus-psalms.

    Every author structures his words in a certain way. Whether in a sonnet-form, or in descriptive narrative of various sorts, authors present their thought in certain structures. These structures inform the reader’s expectations of the author, and this accounts for why we read a book faster in its middle and concluding chapters than we do in the introductory ones; because in the earlier ones we are learning (whether we are self-concious of it or not) how the author is structuring his thoughts. God is no less an author than human authors; He also structures His thoughts according to patterns that create expectations in us. My suggestion, which I believe concords with the best of the history of the Reformed tradition, is this: That God Himself establishes the pattern of Deed-Prophetic Interpretation-Devotional Response; God creates this expectation in us, by repeating it throughout history. Therefore, exclusive psalmody, which disrupts this pattern at its climactic moment, must offer us more than question-begging, more than mere logical plausibility; it must assume the burden of explaining to God’s people why this pattern has now been discarded at the very moment when shadow gives way to substance. And this, I respectfully submit, it has not done.

    For an example of this view of the progress of revelation, recall that Michael Bushell notes that it is instructive that at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, a psalm (probably the Hallel, 118) was sung by Jesus and the disciples: “We do not deny that the institution of the Lord’s Supper marks the beginning of the period of transition from the OT rite to the NT counterpart, but we do find it very significant that the Psalms were sung at precisely this point of transition” (78). What I find significant is that Bushell finds this “very significant.” What else could they possibly have sung at this moment? Could they have sung “Jesus Christ is risen today” before he was raised? Could they have sung “O Sacred Head now Wounded” before the cross? In its original historical institution, the Lord’s Supper was itself proleptic of events that had not yet occurred; hymns had not yet been composed to celebrate those not-yet-accomplished events. Jesus and the disciples therefore sang what other Jews did at the Passover, which is all one could have expected at the time.

    Such a diminished view of the progress of revelation has profounder affinities with Pietism than with the Reformed faith. Pietism has always had a tendency to structure itself by the Gospels more than the Epistles (e.g.., red letter editions of the Bible), whereas the Reformed tradition has contentedly awaited the concluding words of revealed truth before structuring its faith and life. Note the implicit Pietism in Bushell’s words about the psalm sung at the institution of the Lord’s Supper: “As our Lord chose to die with the words of a psalm on His lips, should we not so live?” (79). Well, we might as well ask: “As our Lord chose to die without a canonical New Testament, should we not so live?”, and I, for one, would answer as emphatically as I could: “No!” I don’t wish to live without the provisions God has made for His saints; I want all four gospels; I want thirteen Pauline letters; I want the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; I want the pastors, elders, and deacons of the New Testament Church; and, yes, I want another thing that Jesus died without: an empty tomb. Jesus is an example of perfect humanity in the era of the Sinai covenant (Paul says he was born “under the law”); he is not and was not an example of what is sufficient for saints who live under the New Covenant administration.

    … in point of fact, the Lord did not “hand us a book of psalms,” as Bushell claims. As he knows, the canonical psalter is itself a collection of five collections of psalms, none of which was “handed” to us, at least not in the sense that the decalogue was handed to Moses. Presumably, then, Bushell means that God in His providence superintended the collection of each of these five collections into a single collection. The Psalms are indeed a collection, even as the Proverbs are a collection. But God certainly did not, even in this providential sense, hand these psalms to “us;” He handed them, providentially, to the members of the Sinai covenant community, not to the members of the New Covenant community. He handed them to Jews, not to Gentiles; to members of a theocratic community, not to members of a non-theocratic community; to people who lived in a holy land, not to people who do not live in a holy land. The Psalms are “handed” to us just as the OT scriptures are “handed” to us; they were providentially given to the members of the Sinai covenant, and were entirely adequate to their purposes. But they were not given to the members of the New covenant as entirely adequate to our purposes.

  99. John Harutunian said,

    April 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Andrew-

    >In answer of the question what will be singing in glory? None on earth knows.

    But we do. In Revelation 5:12, myriads of angels, living creatures and elders are singing “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches and wisdom and might, and honor and glory and blessing.” Presumably we will one day be joining them. Also -since we are to pray that God’s will be done on earth _as it is in heaven_ -it is entirely appropriate for Christ’s church to sing those words in her earthly worship now. And, as David Gordon points out, those words speak explicitly of a New Testament reality.

  100. bsuden said,

    April 15, 2011 at 12:05 am

    98 John,
    I’m under the gun for time, but we’re not sure what the psalms are for?

    1 Chronicles 16:9  Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
    2 Chronicles 29:30  Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer.
    Psalms 95:2  Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
    Psalms 105:2  Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

    As for TDGordon’s article,
    1. The forest for the trees is that nowhere in scriptures, are we not only called to praise and thank God, but actually do just that – than in the psalms. (The OT song writers didn’t realize their songs were inspired according to TDG? 2 Sam 23:1,2?)

    2. The redemptive pattern of history revealed in Scripture does not contain any uninspired songs in response to the various acts of redemption. TDG’s appeal to RH is inconsistent.

    3. The implicit confessional Westminster paradigm in 21:5 is that the reading of Scripture and the singing of psalms are restricted to the inspired text. Sermons and prayers are not, but develop from the Scripture and are applied to the needs of the day and the listeners. There is both form and liberty/freedom/application.

    4. To argue from the redeemed saints in the eschatological state is an over realized eschatology. Obviously Rev. 5:12 is an inspired chorus. It is not an new uninspired hymn or song.

    IOW exclusive psalmody is not a violation of “both the pattern of scripture and the express teaching of scripture” in that again, “the pattern of the canonical Psalms and the express teaching of the canonical Psalms” are fulfilled in the Psalms themselves. That is the historic confessional position of the reformed church by and large with a few exceptions or additions, i.e. they sang the 10 commandments and the Apostles’s Creed in Geneva.

  101. John Harutunian said,

    April 15, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Bob-

    >we’re not sure what the psalms are for?

    I can see how you might infer that from my question as to whether the Psalter is a hymnbook. But I’m casting no doubt on the fact that the Psalms are a divinely inspired collection of songs/prayers that were given to Israel, and were sufficient for her worship under the Old Covenant. Like other portions of the Bible, they should also be used for worship under the New Covenant as well. However they, together with the rest of the Old Testament, are not _sufficient_ for New Covenant worship. If they were, we wouldn’t have the New Testament, right? So, on this we agree.
    It is at this point that Gordon’s claim for Acts 2:42 becomes of critical importance:

    “If we grant that this text records the activity of the early apostolic church under apostolic oversight and with apostolic approval, then it becomes significant for the ordering of our churches in the NT era, as Calvin thought it was. Specifically, we will note the challenge then of how to understand “prayers” (ταῖς προσευχαῖς). Are we to understand the apostolic church to have been a non-singing church, or is it likely that the term here includes sung prayers as well as spoken prayers? I think the suggestion of F. F. Bruce is well-grounded, that the expression is a reference to the devotional worship of the church in general….I do think it is relevant to the question of whether the language of the Bible makes a clear distinction between song and prayer. I would suggest that it doesn’t; they are very similar elements of worship, elements of worship that, under certain circumstances, can even be spoken of by the usage of a single general term, προσευχὴ. Acts 2:42 then tends to militate against the exclusive psalmist view that prayer and praise are such different elements of worship as to be differently regulated.

    To give Gordon’s point a practical thrust: As you probably know, in both High-Church Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy prayers are sung (chanted). Would you therefore to say to a priest in either of these traditions. “By the authority of God’s word, I tell you that you are not praying.” You’d need to have _very_ strong Scriptural backup for this -and I just don’t see that it’s there.
    (The flip side of this scenario would be one in which a priest were to say to you, “God doesn’t hear your prayers, because they’re spoken rather than chanted.” Both statements are silly, aren’t they?)

    >1. The forest for the trees is that nowhere in scriptures, are we not only called to praise and thank God, but actually do just that – than in the psalms.

    I don’t think this is true. What about the song of Deborah and Barak in Judges 5? But even if it is true, why would it necessitate the practice of exclusive psalmody for the church under the New Covenant?

    >2.The redemptive pattern of history revealed in Scripture does not contain any uninspired songs in response to the various acts of redemption.

    True -but only because any song of praise revealed in Scripture is inspired! This is arguing in a circle.

    >3. The implicit confessional Westminster paradigm in 21:5 is that the reading of Scripture and the singing of psalms are restricted to the inspired text.

    The singing of of Psalms is restricted to the inspired text? Well, I’d hope so! The question is whether _all_ singing is restricted to the inspired text.

    >IOW exclusive psalmody is not a violation of “both the pattern of scripture and the express teaching of scripture” in that again, “the pattern of the canonical Psalms and the express teaching of the canonical Psalms” are fulfilled in the Psalms themselves.

    Here it looks like you missed Gordon’s point. The pattern of Scripture is, chronologically: deed, then prophetic interpretation, then devotional response.
    God’s supreme act/ deed of revelation was the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There followed the Epistles, which supplied inspired interpretation of this deed (expressly, and not just typologically). Last is the devotional response of the Church, which includes liturgies and hymns.

  102. John Harutunian said,

    April 15, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    (Please ignore this blog -I forgot to check off notification of follow-up comments!)

  103. John Harutunian said,

    April 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    To All EP-ers-

    The stalwart EP-er John Murray (in a failed attempt to keep hymns out of OP worship), stated, “Prayer is one element of worship, singing is another.” But all that this means is that for him, they were separate. For High-Church liturgical Christians they’re not. In determining who is right, an accurate understanding of Acts 2:42 is critical: “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer [or "the prayers"].
    It looks like we’re pretty much reduced to three options here:

    1.New Testament Christians ceased Psalm singing.

    2. Starting on the day of Pentecost, New Testament Christians suspended the practice of singing in worship, for an unspecified period of time. By the time Paul wrote I Corinthians (see 14:26, “When you come together, each one has a hymn/psalm…) they had resumed the practice.

    3. “Prayer” includes singing. In light of the references within the Psalms to the Psalms themselves being “prayers”, and also in light of the songs sung at the Passover (now finding its fulfillment in the Eucharist, or “breaking of bread”) this way of categorizing worship elements would have been familiar to Luke’s readers.

    Ep-ers, which of these three options do you think is most likely? This point is critical.

  104. John Harutunian said,

    April 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Bob-

    >To argue from the redeemed saints in the eschatological state is an over realized eschatology. Obviously Rev. 5:12 is an inspired chorus. It is not an new uninspired hymn or song.

    I agree that Rev. 5:12 (“Worthy is the Lamb…”) is inspired -simply because it’s an expression of praise found in the Bible. But do you see what your argument is demanding? A Scripture passage in which God says to His people, “You may worship me by singing [fill in the blank with a song title] even though [same song title] is not part of the Bible.” This is simply an unreasonable expectation for a scenario. It is made to look reasonable by the Regulative Principle’s careful choice of wording, “We may not worship God in any way not commanded in Scripture.”

  105. bsuden said,

    April 18, 2011 at 12:55 am

    John,
    There are any number of comments to be made.

    101 The main point in all this still needs to be addressed. The question is not in what way song and prayer are similar, but in what way they differ? To choose the first is to go the route of Prof. Frame and blenderize WCF 21. Singing is praying is preaching is teaching.

    The elements of worship are mashed together indiscriminately and out of the scrambled green eggs and ham that result, Dr. Frame can conjure up his counter distinction of “applications”. Enter stage right Jordanschlisselmeyerleithartwilsonhorneandrjgore with the subsequent worship chaos in P&R churches resulting.

    But to the contrary, we are to sharpen the focus and divide the word properly, not glory in confusion and conflation, not to mention Anglican/EO practices and distinctions.

    More to the point, was Christ singing in the garden of Gethsemane or praying? To ask is to answer. Is the Lord’s Prayer a form for prayer or a song – although I understand some churches turn it into a song as they also do to the Heidelberg Catechism #1. Yet the Westminster catechisms are clear on how the LP is to be understood.

    Nobody questions or denies that both speaking/prayer and singing/song can be understood or are termed in Scripture as “prayers” or “the praise of God”. Nevertheless, Act. 4:12 notwithstanding, they can be and are seen as distinct elements in worship regardless again, of what the Anglicans or East. Orthodox think or do.

    FTM in that the West. Assembly was largely Anglican, one only has to read the Directory for Public Worship, beginning with the Preface to understand that the West. Assembly of Ch. of England divines repudiated the Anglican prayerbook/servicebook/liturgy, although they acknowledge the first generation reformers found the prayerbook to be expedient at the time.

    As per the DPW the reading and singing in public worship was restricted to the respective inspired texts of Scripture and the Psalter, while the preaching and praying – which could and did include portions of the inspired text – were free to ad lib, add to, and apply , as well as summarize and elaborate on Scripture and its themes and doctrines in addressing the congregation in the sermon, or addressing God in the congregational prayer.

    Neither have I missed TDGordon’s point. Rather, you have missed mine – and not for the first time. The devotional response in the OT to the new OT revelation as it progressed was inspired. David was inspired. Asaph, Korah and Heman were prophetic seers and divinely chosen songwriters. They were explicitly set aside to the task. We have their corpus in the Psalms, the Sepher Tehillim or Book of Praises, the inspired devotional response to God’s revelation in the OT – and the New. For RH to appeal to the OT pattern and then in the NT to advocate an uninspired devotional response to the NT revelation is inconsistent to its own presuppositions.

    Again the Book of Hebrews makes it clear that the ceremonial and sacrificial worship of the temple in the Leviticus has been superseded with Christ at Calvary. And the NT counterpart to the OT Book of Praises? Nonexistent or piecemeal scattered through out the NT in “hymnic portions”, if not that we are now free to improvise and use uninspired songs in the worship of the triune God ala Eph. 5 and Col. 3 contra the OT rule and practice? I don’t think the last two can bear the weight of the argument.

    104 Again, to argue from Revelation is to prove too much. Not only do the saints in glory have more revelation than we do, what are we to make of the white robes, golden crowns and incense? Of course these items don’t bother the Roman or Anglican church, which incorporate the like into their worship, but that is just the point. Historically and originally, presbyterianism repudiated Apocalypse style Roman/Anglican worship. Again, to appeal to examples of worship in Revelation is an over realized eschatology.

    w. apologies for length

  106. John Harutunian said,

    April 18, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Bob-

    No problem with the length of your email; in view of the length of my #98 my criticizing it would definitely be a case of the coal calling the kettle black!

    I agree with your opening points -as they relate to song and prayer within the context of much modern Reformed worship. Whether they’re an accurate reflection of NT worship is the point at issue.

    >we are to sharpen the focus and divide the word properly

    If we sharpen the focus on Acts 2:42 where no mention is made of “singing” (“And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer [or 'the prayers']“), what does the resulting clear picture look like?

    1.New Testament Christians ceased Psalm singing?

    2. Starting on the day of Pentecost, New Testament Christians suspended the practice of singing in worship, for an unspecified period of time. By the time Paul wrote I Corinthians (see 14:26, “When you come together, each one has a hymn/psalm…) they had resumed the practice? OR-

    3. Is Luke categorizing “Song/Prayer” by the usage of a single general term? In light of the references within the Psalms to the Psalms themselves being “prayers”, and also in light of the songs sung at the Passover (now finding its fulfillment in the Eucharist, or “breaking of bread”) this way of categorizing worship elements would have been familiar to Luke’s readers.
    The reason why I say that this point is critical is that if #3 is true, the “conflation” which you refer to is found not just in Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy but in Scripture itself; and prayer and song can not “be seen as distinct elements” in New Testament worship. It seems that the burden is on you to show that Luke thought of singing and praying as two distinct elements.
    Moreover, the Directory for Public Worship of the Westminster Assembly is, first of all, a man-made document. Second, it nowhere forbids the singing or chanting or prayers.

    >More to the point, was Christ singing in the garden of Gethsemane or praying? To ask is to answer.

    But I don’t see that it is. The prayer may well have been a sung supplication, as is found in many of the Psalms (with which Jesus was obviously familiar).

    >The devotional response in the OT to the new OT revelation as it progressed was inspired.

    This is doubtless true in some sense. But let’s try applying it to the Psalms. The clearest statement of the Crucifixion is in Psalm 22. But for the clearest statement of the Resurrection we have to go backward -rather than “progress” forward- to Psalm 16 (“For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.”) In any case, where in the Old Testament is the devotional response to these two pivotal truths of Christian faith? The response could be made only after the events occurred.

    >Again, to argue from Revelation is to prove too much. Not only do the saints in glory have more revelation than we do, what are we to make of the white robes, golden crowns and incense?

    But “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power…”) is a Biblical truth which God is revealing to us. It may be expressed in worship through a spoken prayer, or (in my view) through a sung one. Singing it doesn’t necessitate the wearing of a gold crown any more than does speaking it.

  107. John Harutunian said,

    April 18, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Bob-

    One thing which confuses EP-ers is the assumption that singing=praise. Just yesterday in my home church here in Boston, one of the texts in the service was Psalm 142. If you read it, you’ll see that there’s little praise there. The Psalm is primarily a sung supplication, similar to one which Jesus may have sung in Gethsemane.

  108. bsuden said,

    April 18, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    106 John

    1. Nobody denies that Scripture can and does refer to singing and praying by one term. But then again nobody denies that it also distinguishes and refers to singing and praying separately (1Cor. 14:15). Sola Scriptura and Tota Scriptura.

    2. Obviously the DPW is an uninspired document. But that’s not the point. It gives us the presbyterian understanding of Scripture, not the Anglican/Roman/E.Orthodox. This is after all, a P&R site.

    3. If Revelation is an approved example for earthly worship, as it is for heavenly worship, there is absolutely nothing stopping all the smells, bells, liturgical costumes and sundry dregs of Antichrist from being dragged into presbyterian worship.

    IOW to argue that Rev. 5:12 is an approved example of singing a biblical truth and we are allowed to go and do likewise proves too much, because we are also then allowed to have costumes and crowns, instruments and incense in NT worship. Can we again say popery in worship? But that in part was what the Reformation was all about, reforming in worship.

    107 I have no quarrel with the fact that the Psalms are called in Hebrew, Sepher Tehillim or the Book of Praises, the imprecatory psalms for example, notwithstanding. Neither do I see it as a problem. But you do?

    IOW I don’t get your point. Yes, prayers can be sung. Are all prayers in scripture sung? At the very least that remains to be proved, never mind if it is the rule and not the exception. Possibility of or even liberty to does not mean necessity of. IOW there is some confusion of categories going on and it’s not all on the part of those advocating psalmody.

  109. John Harutunian said,

    April 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Bob-

    >[Scripture] also distinguishes and refers to singing and praying separately (1Cor. 14:15).

    This verse needs to be read in context. Paul is referring here to praying in tongues -a particular kind of prayer which is a gift not given to every Christian. As one of the charismatic gifts, it is indeed separate from ordinary prayer/song. As such, it’s an exceptional case. Hence there’s no implication here that _ordinary_ prayer and song are to be placed in different categories and regulated differently.

    >Obviously the DPW is an uninspired document. But that’s not the point. It gives us the presbyterian understanding of Scripture, not the Anglican/Roman/E.Orthodox. This is after all, a P&R site.

    But because it’s uninspired, it’s open to question, isn’t it? And even though this is a P & R site, the site’s main purpose is to discuss whether the Reformed position implies Exclusive Psalmody (as John Murray, Michael Bushell and others believe) or not (as David Gordon, John Frame, James Jordan and others believe). And, this is all quite apart from the fact that the DPW nowhere states that prayers may not be sung.

    >If Revelation is an approved example for earthly worship…there is absolutely nothing stopping all the smells, bells, liturgical costumes and sundry dregs of Antichrist from being dragged into presbyterian worship.

    But the “smells” recorded in Revelation chapter 5 (which I assume you’re referring to) have nothing to do with the Antichrist. They’re the smells of the incense which signifies the prayers of the saints rising up to God’s throne. Re: “costumes” – would you regard a policeman’s uniform, a judge’s robe or a surgeon’s gown as a costume? They’re a lot more serious than costumes: they signify the person’s task
    -respectively to enforce the law, to pronounce guilt or innocence, to restore a person to health. Similarly, clerical vestments signify the serious task and office of an ordained minister: to preach the Word with authority. Finally, my point was that the prayers of Revelation do “reveal” truth about Christ, which may be expressed today in prayer/song -without _necessarily_ using all of the outward symbols accompanying them in heaven (incense, crowns, etc.).

    >I have no quarrel with the fact that the Psalms are called in Hebrew, Sepher Tehillim or the Book of Praises, the imprecatory psalms for example, notwithstanding.

    If you know Hebrew, you’re one up on me. But I would like to know where Scripture uses “The Book of Praises” to refer to all 150 Psalms. I understand that the Psalms are constituted of five different collections, or “books”. And Psalm 58, for example, is a Psalm of imprecation. It includes statements like “Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth (verse 6).” Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that God wants us to sing that Psalm in worship today. How does this constitute “sung praise?”

    >Are all prayers in scripture sung? At the very least that remains to be proved…

    I’d agree with that statement. The problem is that the EP position assumes that all prayers in Scripture -or at least in the New Testament- were spoken!

  110. bsuden said,

    April 25, 2011 at 12:53 am

    109 John,
    Your argument is erroneous in that it assumes what needs to be proved: that praying and singing are synonymous and the overlap is not minor, but major.

    That the DPW is not inspired misses the point. Again your argument is from silence. Neither does the DPW state that the reading or preaching may not be sung. Or that one may not stand on their head. Regardless, none of these are regularly done.

    That the original intent of the Westminster Confession was psalmody is not a matter of opinion, but historical fact. It’s called primary sources as in the references in the Standards as a whole to the “singing of psalms”, much more the Minutes of the Assembly, if not the the genesis and complete history of the Scotch Psalter of 1650, which began as Rouse’s psalter before it was revised by the Assembly.

    As regards incense, vestments etc. see the quotes from Dabney in reply to Richard on the Response to Dr. Clark #2 thread.

    We’ve already been through the imprecatory psalms, in that we worship a God who is just and punishes sin and sinners, however much we find that distasteful or unworshipful.

    And finally again, your argument assumes what it needs to prove, that the prayers of the NT were necessarily songs/sung.

    James 5:13-18 for instance, then would read (never mind the confusing injunction to “sing psalms”):

    Is any among you afflicted? let him sing. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
    Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them sing over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
    And the song of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
    Confess your faults one to another, and sing one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent song of a righteous man availeth much.
    Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he sang earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
    And he sang again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

    Thank you.

  111. Darrell Todd Maurina said,

    April 25, 2011 at 10:53 am

    BTW, the link to the minutes of the Westminster Assembly at #86 is wrong. Here are two corrected links:

    http://www.archive.org/details/minutesofsession00west

    http://www.archive.org/details/minutesofsession00westiala

  112. John Harutunian said,

    April 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Bob-

    >Your argument is erroneous in that it assumes what needs to be proved: that praying and singing are synonymous and the overlap is not minor, but major.

    I don’t say that they are synonyms. I do say that ever since David wrote Psalms, they regularly happened at the same time. Regarding New Testament prayers -unless you can respond to my critical point in #103, I’m afraid we won’t be able to pursue this aspect of our dialogue further.

    >Neither does the DPW state that the reading or preaching may not be sung. Or that one may not stand on their head. Regardless, none of these are regularly done.

    Bob, this is all quite true. My argument is that a)as you say, most of the Westminster divines were Anglicans, and b)many Anglicans chant their prayers in worship. But the sermon is never chanted. That’s why the point that the DPW doesn’t forbid the chanting/singing of prayers carries weight.

    >We’ve already been through the imprecatory psalms, in that we worship a God who is just and punishes sin and sinners, however much we find that distasteful or unworshipful.

    But if you re-check my penultimate point under #109, you’ll see that it was not that the imprecatory Psalms shouldn’t be used in worship. It was simply that asking God to curse people isn’t the same as “praising” Him. And again, John Murray’s case for EP assumes that all of the Psalms are “sung praise”.

    >As regards incense, vestments etc. see the quotes from Dabney in reply to Richard on the Response to Dr. Clark #2 thread.

    I couldn’t find this thread. But in any case, I’m less interested in the quotes from Dabney than I am in the response of Suden to Harutunian! Check my point #109 again (its long paragraph beginning with “But the ‘smells’…”). If my argument is flawed, by all means show me where -and we’ll take it from there.

  113. bsuden said,

    April 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    112 John,
    You don’t have a critical point with 103. Rather you have a critical assertion or presupposition you are trying to get over. I am not obligated to compress my position to fit your parameters, much more the passage from James 5:13-18 substituting praying for singing and vice versa is the answer to yours.

    As above, in 110:

    Is any among you afflicted? let him sing. Is any merry? let him pray psalms . . ..

    Your argument on the DPW misses the point again. The West. divines were puritan/presbyterian ministers in the anglican state church. Explicitly in the preface, if not implicitly in the entire directory, they repudiated a Laudian high church liturgical service and the Anglican service/prayer book and instituted a reformed puritan presbyterian replacement.

    And in the same, prayer by the minister took place before and after the sermon while a psalm was sung after the reading of Scripture – and also the sermon if time permitted – by the congregation.

    Again, as per the imprecatory psalms, perhaps our notion of praise is not scriptural. God has given us an inspired hymnbook. It many times does not fit our preconceived notions of what we should like or what we should sing. IOW praise does not always mean CCM ”praise & worship”, just as baptism does not always mean immersion.

    The Dabney quote is at:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/response-to-dr-clark-part-2/#comment-88219

    Your argument from Revelation is flawed because it permits too much. It is the same argument in principle as Richard’s, based on the Song of Moses in Ex.15, that instruments are allowed in worship. But then so too, the choirs, liturgical dancing and choruses that accompanied the instruments.

    Likewise if the “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” of Rev. 5:12 is an approved example to allow uninspired(?) song – never mind that the “new song” is in 5:9, while 5:12 says “saying” not “singing” – so too the elders in white robes, harps and vials of odors that accompanied this new song are permitted in NY worship.
    IOW Not.
    IOW it proves too much.

    Again as Robert Lewis says, in the NT worship of the church, “that whole apparatus of will-worship and superstition which bloomed into popery and idolatry” got its start in borrowing from the temple cultus of the Jews “vestments, pictures in churches, incense [and] the observances of the martyrs’ anniversary days”.

    111 DTM
    Thanks for the new links. In 86 I think I was trying to link to the search pages in the Minutes where in answer to the question of how to determine the divine rule/jus divinum in Christ’s church, the divines replied by way of “explicit command, G&N consequence” and “approved example”.

    Thank you.

  114. John Harutunian said,

    April 26, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Bob-

    Let’s see if we can resolve our difference on the Westminster Confession. Here’s a quote on it from “A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith” by the great 19th-century Reformed theologian A.A. Hodge:

    “Thus prayer in its wide sense includes all direct acts of worship. And hymns and psalms of praise are in their essence only metrical and musically-uttered prayers.”

    Note that Hodge says nothing about the prayer and singing overlapping -rather, that hymns are essentially musically-uttered prayers.

    The Wikipedia article on the Westminster Divines notes:
    “The members of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, sometimes known collectively as the Westminster Divines, are those clergymen who participated in the Assembly which drafted the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Long Parliament’s initial ordinance creating the Westminster Assembly appointed 121 ministers of the Church of England to the Assembly,”

    This doesn’t rule out your point about the ministers being Puritans, since there were Puritans within the Anglican Church. But, as Anglicans, how were they used to uttering their prayers? According to the Wikipedia article on Anglican Evening Prayer:
    “The service of Evening Prayer, according to traditional prayer books such as the 1662 English or 1959 Canadian Book of Common Prayer, is similar in structure to the equivalent Morning Prayer (or Mattins), but with different canticles and with evening-specific collects. It is made up of the following elements:
    • A spoken penitential introduction, including the General Confession and the Lord’s Prayer. These are frequently omitted at daily choral Evensong.
    • Preces — a series of verses and responses including the Gloria Patri.
    • A portion of the psalter, i.e. one or more prose psalms, concluding with the Gloria Patri.
    • Two lessons (readings) from the Bible. The first is usually taken from the Old Testament and the second from the New Testament. Each lesson is followed by (one of):
    • Two canticles, usually the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, each concluding with the Gloria Patri.
    • The Apostles’ Creed, often chanted on a monotone.
    • Several prayers and responses, often chanted. These include the Kyrie eleison and the Lord’s Prayer, followed by several verses and responses (“suffrages”), and the Collect of the Day and two additional collects (the “three collects”).”

    Note the last point -the prayers were often chanted.

    You note:

    >Explicitly in the preface, if not implicitly in the entire directory, they repudiated a Laudian high church liturgical service and the Anglican service/prayer book and instituted a reformed puritan presbyterian replacement.

    I think I found the sentence in the Directory of Public Worship which you have in mind:

    -“we have, after earnest and frequent calling upon the name of God, and after much consultation, not with flesh and blood, but with his holy word, resolved to lay aside the former liturgy, with the many rites and ceremonies formerly used in the worship of God”

    True, they repudiated a high-church service. But they nowhere state that the prayers of their simplified service are spoken rather than sung.

    Still more to the point:

    “Even the Westminster Confession of Faith cannot be used to support exclusive psalmody. Did not some of these Puritan divines plainly state in their commentaries on Ephesians, Colossians, and James, that they accepted uninspired hymns as well as the Psalms for public worship? All the Confession states is, ‘singing of psalms with grace in the heart’ (W.C.F. XXI-IV)”-Robert Morey, D.Min., Westminster Theological Seminary

    Here are some more relevant quotes from Morey’s article (“An Examination of Exclusive Psalmody”):

    “To the majority of Reformed people, exclusive hymnody and exclusive psalmody are just two extremes which illustrate the pendulum propensity of man’s fallen nature. One Christian sings only hymns and the other only the Psalms. But there is a balanced position between these two extremes. This position has been embraced by every major Reformed denomination …”

    “When we examine the Old Testament, we find the priests singing the Psalms but nowhere do we find a command for the congregation to sing the Psalms as part of public worship Thus, the Old Testament did not command the congregation to sing the Psalms in the public worship We must make the distinction between the choirs and the congregation What held for one does not necessarily hold for the other.
    When we turn to the New Testament, we do not find a single passage which explicitly commands the congregation to sing the Psalms in the public worship service But what about James 5:13, Eph. 5:19, and Col. 3:16? We shall see that these verses in their respective contexts do not speak directly or exclusively to the issue of congregational singing in public worship These verses primarily concern the private and personal singing of God’s people anywhere at anytime.”

    “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Eph.5 19)

    Question 1. Does this verse speak directly concerning the public worship of God by the gathered church? From the context, it is absolutely clear that the apostle was not speaking concerning the public worship of the people of God.
    Is the ‘filling’ of the Spirit restricted to public worship (v. 18)? Is giving thanks (v. 20)? Is mutual submission (v. 21)? Should wives submit to their husbands only in the public worship (v. 22)? It is obvious that the ‘speaking’ and ‘singing’ of verse 19 is but one example of what should happen to Christians when they are filled with the Holy Spirit. This filling takes place anywhere at anytime.
    Question 2. Does this verse refer exclusively to public worship? Verse 19 primarily concerns personal edification just as verse 18 refers to personal filling, verse 20 to personal thanksgiving, and verse 21 to private mutual fellowship. The rest of the passage concerns personal obedience in the home (22-6:4) or at work (6:5-9).
    While the exclusive psalmists allow hymns and songs to be used for personal edification, they point to Eph.5:19 as proving exclusive psalmody. If this verse actually taught exclusive psalmody, it would mean that only the Psalms are to be sung in private for personal edification. But this position is unacceptable to nearly everyone.
    Question 3. Does this verse command the singing of the Psalms in public worship? We have already seen that this passage concerns the everyday life of a Spirit-filled Christian There is no way that it can be restricted to the public worship of the gathered church.
    Notice also that the apostle said, ‘SPEAKING to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.’ If this verse refers to exclusive psalmody in public worship, then not only must singing be done by the Psalms, but all speaking as well. All sermons, prayers, and lessons must be restricted to quotations from the Psalms if this verse teaches exclusive psalmody.”

    “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart. (Col. 3:16).

    Question 1. Does this verse speak directly concerning the public worship of the gathered church? There is no indication in the context that public worship is being discussed. As in Eph 5, the totality of the Christian life is in view. We are told to exercise mutual love and forgiveness (vv. 12-14); to let God’s peace rule in our hearts (v. 15); to let the Word of Christ dwell richly in us (v. 16); to do all in the name of the Lord (v. 17). Then there follows instructions for family living and Christian slaves and masters (vv. 18-4:2)
    Even the words ‘to one another’ cannot be interpreted as referring exclusively to public worship. The focus of the passage clearly concerns private Christian fellowship at home or at work. And, indeed, in the worship services of Reformed churches, ‘teaching’ and ‘admonishing’ is the stated work of the elders or pastors and is not a congregational function. We do not know of a single Reformed church where the members of the congregation turn around and teach and admonish their neighbors during the worship service. Pandemonium would surely break out as it does in some Pentecostal churches. But to see two or more Christians gathered for private fellowship and each of them teaching and admonishing one another fits the passage without hesitation. The words ‘one to another’ in this verse do not point us to the public worship service.
    Calvin commented on this verse as follows:
    ‘Moreover, under these three terms [St. Paul] includes all kinds of songs. They are commonly distinguished in this way: a psalm is sung to the accompaniment of some musical instrument, a hymn is properly a song of praise, whether it be sung simply with the voice or otherwise; an ode contains not merely praise, but exhortation and other matters. He wants the songs of Christians to be spiritual, and not made up of frivolities and worthless trifles.’

    In conclusion, exclusive psalmody has failed to survive the rigors of detailed exegesis. It is noteworthy that the Reformers, the English Puritans, and the best modern Reformed commentators such as Hodge and Hendriksen all reject the exclusive psalmists’ interpretation of James 5:13, Eph.5:19 and Col. 3:16.”
    “The Reformers and the Puritans who established [the Regulative Principle] and fought for it, never understood it to mean the exclusion of uninspired hymns from church worship.
    1. Did not Calvin include uninspired hymns in the Geneva Psalter? Yes.
    2. Did not the first Scottish, English and Dutch Psalters include uninspired hymns? Yes.
    3. Did not the Puritans who developed this principle actively engage in the writing of hymns (Baxter, Henry, Bunyan, etc.) and publish them (Owen)? Yes.
    4. Even the great lights of the Evangelical Awakening were not opposed in principle to the singing of uninspired hymns in the services, (Whitefield, Romaine, Wesley, Toplady, Williams, etc.).”

    You state:
    >God has given us an inspired hymnbook.

    Where does Scripture refer to the five books of Psalms as constituting a hymnbook? Hymnbooks include music. And in light of Psalm 72:70 -“The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended”- wouldn’t it be closer to the truth to call the Psalms a prayer book?

    Finally:
    >James 5:13-18 for instance, then would read (never mind the confusing injunction to “sing psalms”):

    Bob, “sing psalms” is a mistranslation. “Psalms” isn’t in the original Greek. It’s better translated as “Sing praises.” And, believe me, I don’t agree with your paraphrase/rendering of the passage any more than you do. “Prayer” is something addressed to God; “singing” -as such- is not. James’ points are that the elders should address God in faith, that we should address God on behalf of one another that we may be healed, etc. Whether these addresses were spoken, or sung, as were the Psalms/prayers of the Old Testament, is the issue at hand.

    Thanks for being willing to wade through this lengthy blog!

  115. bsuden said,

    April 28, 2011 at 12:57 am

    114 John,

    We can either make our case from the primary sources or we can’t and bring in in a lot of extraneous material as you do, only confuses things.

    But we repeat the obvious.
    One, the Standards as a whole only mention the singing of psalms.
    Two, the Assembly revised Rouse’s psalter and recommended it twice to Parliament, even over Barton’s psalter, because the use of even just two different psalters would destroy the uniformity of worship of the churches in the three kingdoms.

    If you can prove that this psalter which became the Scotch Psalter 1650 was what we would generally call a hymnbook nowadays with a few psalms thrown in in the back, you might have a case, but I am not going to waste time holding my breath.

    Were there uninspired songs in the Reformation era psalters such as the Scotch 1650? Yes, at times there were, but as DH Fleming and Bushell point out, this was due to the printers inserting them, not ecclesiastical permission or approval. Even the great Synod of Dordt only allows a few NT songs besides the Psalms, not uninspired hymns en masse.

    Nor is anybody arguing against Hodge’s wider sense of prayer. Rather it has to do with prayer and song in the narrow sense, or once again, in what way do the elements of worship in WCF 21:5 differ? But we repeat ourselves again. You’re making a hodge podge of things.

    For example, to come to the DPW with the object of proving that since chanting or singing was not specifically mentioned or outlawed, it is then lawful to chant or sing prayers is pretty much special pleading.

    Never mind that the Assembly repudiated Anglican government and worship pretty much across the board, just because something is not forbidden, does not mean it is allowed. Presbyterians are not Anglicans. At least when it comes to the P&R doctrine of worship, commonly known as the RPW or regulative principle of worship.

    According to the same, something has to be positively commanded for it to be allowed in worship. Anglicanism only asks that it not be forbidden. IOW the Anglican view of worship and the RPW couldn’t be more opposite or different. Yet you repeatedly want the DPW to conform to the Anglican POV. Can you understand why this might be a “little” problem, if not a gross contradiction?

    As for Morey, he is a Baptist, who, if he is serious, ought to have some allegiance to the London Baptist Confession of Faith 1689 which modifies the singing of psalms of WCF 21:5 to read the “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our heart to the Lord” in LBC 22:5.

    True, Eph. 5 and Col. 3 are the proof texts to WCF 21:5, but the alternate explanations of the passages prove nothing as to how the Assembly viewed them. Could the Assembly be wrong or do we disagree with the Assembly? Yes, but so what? That is not the point.

    Likewise whatever can be said about Calvin on the same passages is largely irrelevant, because he saw the revival of congregational psalmody as one of the first things he recommended in the reformation of the worship of the church in Geneva. He was of course prevented and exiled, but when he returned, he picked up right where he left off. The only uninspired song in the Geneva churches, was the Apostle’s Creed, and that because arguably he thought it genuinely apostolic according to Bushell.

    Further in the NT with the priesthood of the believer, the congregation replaces the Roman priest and choir who did all the singing in the mass. Calvin’s restoration of congregational psalmody was one of his legacies to the reformed church according to Warfield.

    We say nothing, again, of his reorganization of the worship of the Reformed
    Churches, and particularly of his gift to them of the service of song: for the Reformed Churches did not sing until Calvin taught them to do it. There are many who think he did few things greater or more far-reaching in their influence than the making of the Psalter – that Psalter of which twenty-five editions were published in the first year of its existence, and sixty-two more in the next four years; which was translated or transfused into nearly every language of Europe; and which wrought itself into the very flesh and bone of the struggling saints throughout all the “killing times” of Protestant history (Calvin and Augustine, 1956, rpt. 1971, p.20.)

    Not that that is appreciated these days.

  116. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 28, 2011 at 6:28 am

    Bob: One, the Standards as a whole only mention the singing of psalms.

    Notice that the standards are worded in an interesting manner:

    5. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.

    But we notice immediately that this is not an exhaustive list. The statement is, “these are parts of ordinary religious worship.” NOT “These are the only possible parts of ordinary religious worship.”

    How do we know? Well, for one thing, prayer isn’t mentioned on this list — but it *is* mentioned in items 3 and 4! For another, giving of alms is also not mentioned; yet most consider this to be a part of worship.

    So the argument that the Standards only mention psalms proves simply what we already knew: that psalms are acceptable.

    In other words, we cannot transfer the RPW (only what the Scripture commands is allowed) over to the Confession (only what the Confession commands is allowed).

  117. April 28, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Regardless how it is worded there should be no question that the intent of WCF 21:5 is Exclusive Psalmody.

    See Matthew Winzer’s review of Nick Needham’s work in the Confessional Presbyterian Journal.

  118. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Benjamin, isn’t the Needham / Winzer debate over the meaning of the word “psalm”, NOT whether 21.5 is exclusive?

  119. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 28, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Bob (#115):

    Calvin on worship: Now there are briefly three things which our Lord commanded us to observe in our spiritual assemblies: namely, the preaching of His Word, prayers public and solemn, and the administration of the sacraments. …

    As for public prayers, there are two kinds. The ones with the word alone: the others with singing. And this is not something invented a little time ago. For from the first origin of the Church, this has been so, as appears from the histories. And even St. Paul speaks not only of praying by mouth: but also of singing. And in truth we know by experience that singing has great force and vigor to move and inflame the hearts of men to invoke and praise God with a more vehement and ardent zeal. — Calvin, Preface to the Psalter

    (He goes on to defend Psalms as the best songs to be sung in worship)

    Notice carefully that for Calvin, singing was entirely subsumed under the category of “prayer.”

  120. April 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

    RE #117 and #118
    If I may answer, the intent of the Matthew Winzer critique of the Needham is both to show what the Westminster Assembly meant by the term psalm in WCF 21.5 and that the assembly only acknowledges psalm singing as the element of worship song. But you can read the article yourself here:

    http://www.cpjournal.com/articles-2/articles/matthew-winzer/

    Needham holds “that the acts of worship the Confession explicitly authorizes are the only acts for which it finds scriptural justification.”

    I would note that one cannot come to a solid conclusion what the Assembly held as prescribed worship without taking all the Westminster documents as a package. Although it was a practical rather than a doctrinal document, the Assembly already made clear some years prior to the confession, what parts of worship they believed were prescribed, in their Directory for the Public Worship of God. The Assembly noted in their preface that they “agreed upon this following Directory for all the parts of publick worship, at ordinary and extraordinary times. Wherein our care hath been to hold forth such things as are of divine institution in every ordinance; and other things we have endeavoured to set forth according to the rules of Christian prudence, agreeable to the general rules of the word of God; our meaning therein being only, that the general heads, the sense and scope of the prayers, and other parts of publick worship, being known to all, there may be a consent of all the churches in those things that contain the substance of the service and worship of God….

    From the Directory it is clear the divines only found warrant for psalm singing. See the first sentence under “Of Publick Prayer before the Sermon,” the last sentence of “Of Prayer after Sermon,” and of course the section “Of Singing of Psalms.” As far as the tithe, they only note a collection for the poor to be taken in context of when the church celebrated communion or observed a thanksgiving or fasting service, but it is clear they did not see this as part of public worship, as it was not to be done in a way which would hinder any part of the public worship. Thus, why it is not noticed at WCF 21.5.

    In any event, I commend the Winzer piece, available at the link above. I think he has the argument as to original intent; certainly, others such as Joel Beeke find it more persuasive than the Needham argument.

  121. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Chris, thanks for the link.

    I have a question: In Vol 3 of the CP, you wrote:

    On the other hand, there has been perhaps some overstating of
    the case by the opponents of uninspired hymnody in
    public worship in portraying the Confession as teaching
    exclusive psalmody. It most certainly authorizes only the
    singing of psalms in public worship if the conclusion of
    this paper stands, but it is going beyond and against the
    known information to conclude the Divines did so because
    of an exclusive psalmody principle that developed
    through the “worship wars” of the succeeding centuries
    after Westminster. That it is clear that some of the Divines
    did not hold to exclusive psalmody as we know it, may
    explain why some have sought to go to sources external
    to the productions of the Assembly to seek a broadened
    interpretation of “singing of psalms.”
    – p. 200, cited here

    Could you develop that a bit? For it seems to me that if some of the divines did *not* hold to EP, then they would not have signed a document that required EP in worship. Is that not so?

  122. April 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Jeff, the distinction is with the principle as it has fully developed now. In that paper I argue that it at least is clear that the Westminster standards take a practical EP position without attempting to illustrate any unified theory behind it. As I said, it is very clear that they only saw a clear warrant of psalm singing when they drew up their directory for public worship.

  123. bsuden said,

    April 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    116 Jeff
    Huh?
    My point was as per the RPW, WCF 21 only listed what was commanded and that was the “singing of psalms” which the rest of the Standards back up.
    Psalm singing is mentioned twice in the Form of Pres. Ch. Govt. and eight times in the Dir. Public Worship, not to mention the entire rubric dedicated to “Of The Singing of Psalms”.

    At this point the argument generally becomes, ‘but psalms mean religious songs’ or’they did not explicitly forbid hymns’.
    Yet not only did the divines edit and revise a certain psalter (Rouse’s), they were adamant that only that psalter should be used. How much more would they oppose hymns.

    The objection then becomes ‘but those psalters contained hymns or songs’, if not that prayers can be sung and since we have freedom in our prayers, so too we have freedom to sing inspired psalms or uninspired hymns.

    Thus the general lay of the land traversed by the objections to the confessional position. More to the point, for the non RPW position, something has to be explicitly condemned to register. Hence if the Assembly did not explicitly forbid singing prayers and uninspired hymns – just as long as we included some psalms in the mix – it’s all good.

    But it is not just that “the psalms are acceptable”, but that according to the Standards, they are the only thing acceptable when it comes to what songs to sing. Like it or lump it, that’s the bottom line and original intent of the West. Stands., if we take the primary sources at face value and honor the 9th commandment in something more than its breach.

    As to whether again modern presybyterians understand the WCF in such a fashion, the answer just as obviously is no. But that is called “animus imponentis or the intent of the one imposing, (#47, 84).

    Thanks for the reminder of Calvin in the preface to the Psalter in 119. It was one of the loose ends with John, I didn’t get around to. I would only add that the term “praise”, as well as “prayers”, lumps both spoken and sung material under one term.

    But again John’s argument – and Nick Needham and Ian Murray and [fill in the blank] – is that if we are not restricted to the ipsissima verba of Scripture in our prayers and preaching, then neither are we restricted when it comes to singing God’s praise, because after all songs are only prayers anyway.

    The rebuttal is that the Assembly saw the reading of Scripture and the singing of psalms as restricted to the Bible and the Psalms respectively, while the preaching and praying were at liberty to elaborate in their exposition, application and supplication which necessarily and obviously means a departure from the ipsissima verba.

    And while all the big name reviews might be at the Conf. Pres., a less academic no name review of the sterling example of special pleading found in Vol. 2 of the WCF into the 21st Century series can be found here.

    Thank you.

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Bob S (#123) and Chris to an extent:

    Thus the general lay of the land traversed by the objections to the confessional position. More to the point, for the non RPW position, something has to be explicitly condemned to register. Hence if the Assembly did not explicitly forbid singing prayers and uninspired hymns – just as long as we included some psalms in the mix – it’s all good.

    And this is my point. You (Bob) have argued that since the Assembly did not permit uninspired hymns, the RPW therefore forbids them.

    And I’m pointing out that you are transferring the RPW over to the Confession: “Unless the Confession permits it, it is prohibited.” But that place is reserved to Scripture.

    Why does this matter? Because the Confession (unlike Scripture!) is a consensus document. It **may** be the case that there is silence on uninspired songs in the Confession for the precise reason that there was not agreement on uninspired songs.

    Now, Chris makes a reasonably good argument that this is not so; and he’s in an excellent position to make that argument.

    But my point, Bob, is that we cannot apply the RPW to 21.5. It isn’t Scripture, and it wasn’t written under the same conditions as Scripture.

    Or put another way: One can be pro-RPW and still not read 21.5 as forbidding hymns.

  125. bsuden said,

    April 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    124 Yo Jeffrey,

    You got to be kidding.

    WCF21:1 explicitly gives us the RPW and after talking about prayer in 21:3&4 – and including it with the other elements of worship in the opening lines of 21:6 – then goes on to apply it by giving us a list of the ordinary and extraordinary elements of worship in 21:5, with the singing of psalms being part of the ordinary.
    IOW what’s not to understand about WCF 21?

    From there the argument diverges into, mix and match as you will:
    1. Psalms only means religious songs. Inspired or uninspired does not enter into the equation.
    2. Uninspired hymns are not explicitly forbidden. (This is where you sign on, correct?)
    2. The proof texts of Eph. 5 and Col. 3 are expounded by even some of the West. divines if not CALVIN himself to include uninspired song.
    3. Since public prayer includes both the spoken and sung, and since the first are uninspired/depart from the ipsissima verba, therefore we have liberty to sing, uh . . chant uninspired prayers, er . . . songs.
    4. The psalters often/sometimes included other hymns and religious songs (and also ran/afterthought generally speaking).

    That one can be pro-RPW and read 21:5 as permitting hymns is one thing. To be both pro-RPW and pro- original intent quite another. In that case, one is restricted to the psalms.

    As for Chris’s position or mine, I think we are pretty much agreed. The primary sources in the Standards taken as a whole, as well as the Minutes, explicitly, if not implicitly, affirm singing psalms only and thereby rule out . . . . anything else.

    And just as we may not agree with the Council of Trent, there is no question that it denies justification by faith alone. Likewise, while we may not agree with Standards, they only call for the singing of psalms. NT hymns and uninspired songs are left out of the picture and the worship service entirely.

    (Yes, you may call me Robert.)

  126. bsuden said,

    April 28, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    But my point, Bob, is that we cannot apply the RPW to 21.5. It isn’t Scripture, and it wasn’t written under the same conditions as Scripture.

    Not to be redundant, but more to the point, Jeff, 21:5 (along with 3&4) is the further specific nuts and bolts application of the RPW in 21:1.

    No, it isn’t Scripture, but that’s immaterial. 21:5 must be read consistently in light of 21:1. No more, no less.

    Otherwise we play into the hands of John H or J Frame’s arguments and there, I will not willingly go, though reactionary stick in the mud I may be called.

    cordially

  127. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Well, here’s my last push on this.

    I will say that I respect the stand that you take, and I think it carries some serious weight. But not quite enough to convince me, pro-RPW though I am.

    First, yes, I get on the bus with your point #2 and your other point #2:

    * Uninspired hymns are not explicitly forbidden.

    If 21.5 were intended to be an exhaustive list, it would have included prayer, its presence in 21.3-4 notwithstanding. In my view, the real rule is given in 21.1: “[God] may not be worshipped according to … any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.” What follows was the *agreed upon* list of elements of worship.

    My reading may be wrong, but at this point in time, it makes the most sense to me. If 21.5 were absolutely exhaustive, I would expect the language “are the parts of worship”, not the text as written: “are all parts of worship.”

    And here we get to the subtle issue of trying to apply the RPW to the Confession. Grammatically, the Confession does not limit us to psalms only. This may have been an oversight on their part; or it may have been considered to be understood; or it may have been intentional. But grammatically, non-psalms are not excluded *unless* proscribed by 21.1.

    So what argument could be made, then, that 21.5 prohibits non-psalms? Only by reasoning, “If the Confession doesn’t allow it, it’s forbidden.”

    And that’s an illegitimate transfer of the RPW from Scripture to Confession.

    * The proof texts of Eph. 5 and Col. 3 are expounded by even some of the West. divines if not CALVIN himself to include uninspired song.

    I place a lot of weight on Calvin’s commentary on this point: Farther, under these three terms he includes all kinds of songs. They are commonly distinguished in this way — that a psalm is that, in the singing of which some musical instrument besides the tongue is made use of: a hymn is properly a song of praise, whether it be sung simply with the voice or otherwise; while an ode contains not merely praises, but exhortations and other matters. He would have the songs of Christians, however, to be spiritual, not made up of frivolities and worthless trifles. For this has a connection with his argument. — Calv Comm 3.17.

    It is clear that Calvin sees the three terms as genres, not specific reference to the 67, 6, and 35 psalms, hymns, and odes.

    I also would argue additional points.

    * The Israelites almost certainly sang songs not found in Scripture from the time of Moses to David. I recall that you have an argument that they didn’t sing anything at all in worship, but this strains belief, brother.

    * The designations “psalm”, “hymn”, and “song” are found in Psalms as genres of song. Thus Calvin (above). It is more probable, therefore, that Col 3.17 has reference to these genres, and not to the specific instances of them as found in Psalms. For if Paul intended this, he could easily have written “the Psalms”; yet he does not.

    And, O strict EPer, do you really follow your own principle and omit any psalms whose headline is not “psalm” or “hymn” or “ode”? :-)

    For those reasons, therefore, I think 21.1 trumps whatever interpretation we may have of 21.5: we are commanded to sing, to sing certain genres of songs. And we have as much (and no more) liberty in the content of those songs, as we have in the content of our sermons or our prayers.

    That said, you and Chris might persuade me yet. But the real stickler is the issue of songs pre-David. How did David learn how to compose music, if Israel was songless between Moses and David? What’s the song of Deborah and Barak all about?

  128. bsuden said,

    April 29, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I. In that repetition is hopefully the mother of comprehension, here we go again.

    Not that we’re trying to be snarky, Jeff, but seriously. There is no point in making WCF21 harder to understand than it is. Whether we agree with it is something entirely different, in that even Needham understands if the Assembly didn’t mention an element in WCF 21:3-5, they didn’t think Scripture commanded it according to the rule in 21:1. (True, Needham tries and fails to prove #1, that a psalm is only a religious song in general and not restricted to the OT psalter.)

    In WCF 21:1 we are given the scriptural rule for worship or the RPW
    21:2 tells us who worship is to be given to and by what mediator, i.e the triune God alone and Christ.
    21:3&4 talk about “prayer”, which – as 21:3 explicitly starts out by saying – is “one special part of religious worship” .
    21:5 gives us the other elements of worship of worship for both ordinary and special occasions.
    21:6 starts out by saying: “Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship” – IOW prayer is again considered a part of worship – and then goes on to deny that location is important, but rather the necessity of secret/personal, family and public worship.
    21:7&8 talk about the Sabbath.

    If 21.5 were intended to be an exhaustive list, it would have included prayer, its presence in 21.3-4 notwithstanding.

    This is special pleading and an argument from silence, if not to beg the question. Granted WCF 21:5 is not an exhaustive list. It leaves out the prayer of 21:3&4. But your argument is that since the prayer in 21:3&4 is left out, so too “singing hymns and uninspired songs” could have been left out.
    IOW it is an non sequitur.

    Rather the argument is that in light of the RPW of 21:1, 21:3-5 give us an exhaustive/complete list of what the divines understood to be the elements of worship commanded in Scripture. That’s the real status questionis.

    Even further, prayer, as the chief part of our gratitude, covers all the bases from private to public worship, if not that we can pray even when we aren’t “worshiping” strictly speaking. It is universal and necessarily accompanies all other instances of worship. That is why the WCF discusses it first in two sections before going on to merely list the other elements either for ordinary or for special occasions.

    In my view, the real rule is given in 21.1: “[God] may not be worshipped according to … any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.” What follows was the *agreed upon* list of elements of worship.

    ???What’s the beef? Or did you leave out the explanation that the *agreed upon* list of 21:5 – in contrast to the real list of 21:3-5 inclusive of prayer – was purely a non binding compromise between those in the Assembly who had differing views on the proof texts and might have cared to include other elements in their worship?

    My reading may be wrong, but at this point in time, it makes the most sense to me. If 21.5 were absolutely exhaustive, I would expect the language “are the parts of worship”, not the text as written: “are all parts of worship.”

    Again, 21:5 is clearly not exhaustive in regard to the clear testimony of 21:3&6 on prayer.

    And here we get to the subtle issue of trying to apply the RPW to the Confession. Grammatically, the Confession does not limit us to psalms only. This may have been an oversight on their part; or it may have been considered to be understood; or it may have been intentional. But grammatically, non-psalms are not excluded *unless* proscribed by 21.1.

    But 21:1 “conveniently” doesn’t tell us specifically what is commanded/proscribed. We have to wait until 21:3-5, upon which you want to equivocate by ignoring 21:3&4 and say that since 21:5 is not exhaustive, essentially WCF21 in toto does not contain an exhaustive list of commanded elements for worship.

    But we might as well ask, why not the deliberate liberal misread of SC Q&A 2 in the larger context; that the word of God is only “contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament” rather than the word of God “is the Old and New Testament”? Yes, the SC could have been phrased better, but does anybody really believe that the divines didn’t believe that O&NT in its entirety was the word of God? Or that 21:3-5 doesn’t contain an exhaustive list of the elements of worship according to the rule of 21:1.

    So what argument could be made, then, that 21.5 prohibits non-psalms? Only by reasoning, “If the Confession doesn’t allow it, it’s forbidden.”

    And that’s an illegitimate transfer of the RPW from Scripture to Confession.

    No, rather it’s the same thing as Bryan Cross accusing protestants of putting their private judgement or the WCF over Scripture, while all the time protestants merely confess that Scripture says something about itself just as plainly as Bryan tells us his name is Bryan.

    IOW it’s propaganda, if not a mischaracterization of the question. WCF 21:1 understands Scripture to forbid singing anything that is not commanded, so in light of both the RPW and the 9th, WCF 21 goes on to give us a list in 21:3-5 of what it thinks the Scripture calls for. That includes singing psalms.

    It’s not a subtle issue of trying to apply the RPW to the WCF. Rather we’re reading WCF 21 and it tells us both the rule and the application of it. And since the rule is whatever is not commanded is forbidden, then whatever is not listed, was seen as uncommanded.

    Further if the divines were adamant that only Rouse’s psalter was approved for worship, and wouldn’t even consider letting another psalter to be used along side their revision of Rouse, it begs belief that uninspired hymns – which were in no way as popular as they are today – would get a bye merely because the divines didn’t explicitly condemn them. That is anachronism with a vengeance, if not plain old wishful thinking, not to mention that in principle it is the same argument
    II. As regards the proof texts of Eph. 5 and Col. 3, whatever Calvin thought of them, he still practically speaking, advocated psalmody. At the end of the day, no amount of special pleading can deny that.

    III. Neither does anybody deny that the Israelites sang songs before David. The salient distinction is though, were they songs of worship or songs of national celebration like Ex. 15 or Deborah and Barak?

    Neither did the Israelites sing in the typical and ceremonial worship of the tabernacle under Moses. Only when the temple was built, did David, under divine inspiration, re-assign the priests to write songs, sing in choirs and play musical instruments 1 Chron. 15:16, 23:5, 2 Chron. 7:7, 29:26, 27.

    For those reasons, therefore, I think 21.1 trumps whatever interpretation we may have of 21.5: we are commanded to sing, to sing certain genres of songs. And we have as much (and no more) liberty in the content of those songs, as we have in the content of our sermons or our prayers.

    Whatever. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, Jeff, but as to whether it is reasonable or not, much more in line with the original intent and entirety of WCF 21:1-8 is quite another matter.

    Thank you.

  129. bsuden said,

    April 29, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Never mind all the gumflapping above from yrs. truly.
    Long story short, think: “fallacy of the undistributed middle term”.

    Prayer in WCF 21:3&4 is a lawful and commanded element of worship.

    But the prayer of WCF 21:3&4 is not included in the list of commanded elements in WCF 21:5.

    Therefore hymns and uninspired songs are a lawful and commanded element of worship because they were not included in the list of WCF 21:5.

  130. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Bob, could you explain your argument about preDavidic worship music a little more? For of course, the temple wasn’t built in David’s time as you know.

    So I’m lost as to

    (a) What your argument is exactly. I’m pretty sure you don’t mean that there wasn’t worship music in the tabernacle, right?

    (b) How you get from “David appointed some singers” to “there weren’t any singers prior to David”? That seems like a huge leap.

    Also, it would help me if you could distinguish between literal and grammatical readings and readings-in-context.

    My point was that the literal and grammatical reading of 21.1 – 8 does not prevent us from singing non-psalms.

    That is, “reading of Scripture, preaching, singing of psalms, and sacraments are all ordinary parts of worship” is no more restrictive than “bananas, apples, and grapes are all fruits.”

    Can you agree that grammatically, the language itself is not restrictive?

    And I think your point is that if we consider the context (the views of the writers of the Confession, the DPW, the existence of psalters), it makes it highly likely that 21.5 was intended to exclude non-psalms. Right?

  131. John Harutunian said,

    April 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Bob (and anybody else who cares to respond),

    You and a number of others on this blog know the Westminster Confession a lot better than I do. But there’s still a basic issue which hasn’t been addressed:

    >The West. divines were puritan/presbyterian ministers in the anglican state church.

    The Anglican Church was indeed the state church in England. But that doesn’t imply that its members -puritan or not- might not have “really” been Anglicans, any more than a member of the state Church of Scotland might not “really” be a Presbyterian. A contemporary example: J.I. Packer is in agreement with the five major points of Calvin’s theology. He has been called a walking, breathing, 21st-century puritan. But he’s not a Presbyterian -he’s an Anglican. Point: If the Anglican framers of the Westminster Confession had now come to the conviction that chanting prayers (as was often done in Anglican worship) was sinful, then, given their zeal for righteousness in both worship and life, it’s _inconceivable_ that they would not have forbidden the practice. And if the simple absence of a command was inherently sufficient to exclude an element from worship, why did they see the need to explicitly forbid prayers for the dead, the worship of saints, and the use of the Apocrypha in worship? The fact that they did forbid these things is a clue as to their “intention” regarding sung prayers: presumably they saw the practice as belonging to the class of adiaphora (“things indifferent”).

    Also, in blog #119 Jeff notes that for Calvin, singing was subsumed under the category of prayer. I would guess that the framers of the Westminster Confession followed him on this point.

    >Further in the NT with the priesthood of the believer, the congregation replaces the Roman priest and choir who did all the singing in the mass.

    OK, but where does the NT command the congregation to sing Psalms in public worship?

  132. bsuden said,

    April 30, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Jeff,

    Seriatim in reply to yours,

    Of course the temple wasn’t built in David’s time. Rather it was a time of transition between the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple, which David prepared for, but did not build. In that interim, he gave Solomon the blueprints for the both the temple and the new duties of the priests and levites, who laid down their old responsibilities, such as who carried what when they were moving around from place to place in the desert and turned to their new tasks before moving into the new building/temple.

    How do we know there is no singing in the worship of the tabernacle under Moses? Easy. The worship is explicitly set forth in Exodus by Moses. There are many sacrifices, but there is no singing, choirs or musical orchestras proscribed or commanded by Moses for the tabernacle of the wilderness.

    (At this point, if we want to argue from silence, we might as well say goodbye and good riddance to the RPW – and notify the presbytery as well, not that perhaps all might know exactly what we’re talking about, but let’s not sweat the details, alright? After all, this really is the Good Faith (Presbyterian) Tabernacle and we all agree in the Lord, just not his Word, OK!)

    Rather the choirs and orchestras were only brought into the tabernacle worship under David’s direction as per 1&2 Chron., just before it became the new temple.

    The literal and grammatical reading of 21:1 tells me that what God has not commanded/prescribed is unlawful in worship. The literal and grammatic reading of WCF 21:3 & 4 then tells me that prayer is a prescribed part of worship that pretty much accompanies all the other prescribed elements and parts of ordinary and special worship listed in WCF 21:5.

    Consequently I conclude that if the Assembly had thought Scripture prescribed any other elements of worship, they would have spelled that out plainly in WCF 21 taken as a whole rather than straining a gnat and swallowing a camel through insisting on divorcing one part from another in order to understand it properly. But the divines didn’t do that.

    Again if not-psalms are prescribed, WCF 21 would have explicitly said so. That’s why it was written in the first place.

    It is entirely immaterial that the language of 21:5 could be understood as non restrictive. Why” Because 21:5 is 21:5, not 21:1 nor does 21:5 make up the entirety of the WCF 21. In short, this is so elementary, I really can’t believe we’re quibbling about it.

    No, it’s not “highly likely that 21.5 was intended to exclude non-psalms”. Rather it’s a slam dunk. There is no other way to read 21:5 in context with the rest of WCF 21, whether literally, grammatically or whatever, even before we bring in the rest of the WCF or the Standards as a whole (we forbear mention of the rubric in the Dir. of Public Worship entitled just that “Of the Singing of Psalms”), never mind the Minutes of the Assembly regarding both Rouse and Barton’s psalters.

    Now let me ask a question. Do you agree/understand that your previous argument that since ‘WCF 21:5 is not an exhaustive list and left out the prayers of WCF21:3, consequently the divines could also have left out non-psalms’ is a non starter/non sequitur, if not a fallacy of the undistributed middle term?

    Thank you.

  133. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 30, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Bob (#132):

    Do you agree/understand that your previous argument that since ‘WCF 21:5 is not an exhaustive list and left out the prayers of WCF21:3, consequently the divines could also have left out non-psalms’ is a non starter/non sequitur, if not a fallacy of the undistributed middle term?

    No, I don’t agree, sorry. The fallacy of the undistributed middle is unrelated to the form of my argument (See here).

    My argument shows, successfully, that 21.5 is not an exhaustive list. It therefore defeats the argument “It’s not in 21.5, so we can’t do it.”

    There’s a bigger picture here. The Confession was deliberately written so as to make Scripture and not itself the final rule of faith. This is explicitly evident in 1.9 – 10 and 31.3.

    The language of ch. 21 is written in much the same way. 21.1 makes Scripture the rule of worship. The sections that follow then list prayer, preaching, etc. as parts of ordinary worship. Not “the parts”, but “parts.” The language used is “reading the Word, preaching, … are all parts of ordinary worship.”

    NOT all of the parts.
    NOT the only parts.
    NOT exclusively parts.

    The language simply doesn’t say what you want it to say, brother!

    But then you have another argument:

    Consequently I conclude that if the Assembly had thought Scripture proscribed any other elements of worship, they would have spelled that out plainly in WCF 21 taken as a whole …

    There are two good reasons that a Scripturally commanded element of worship might not appear in 21.

    (1) The assembly may not have agreed that such element was a part of ordinary worship.

    For example: the saying of the creeds does not appear. Yet it is clearly a part of Reformed practice (see Calvin’s 1645 Service of Worship).

    Why not?

    (2) The assembly may not have considered such an element.

    (Obviously, this is not the case with hymn-singing).

    So your argument that “if it’s not in the Confession, it’s not in Scripture” has two huge holes in it.

    Put it another way: Suppose, in the future, someone were to successfully argue as good and necessary consequence from Scripture, that tithes are a part of worship.

    Would we then have to amend the Confession?

    No. Why not? Because 21.1 takes care of it.

    But your argument would have all of us who believe that Scripture commands hymn-singing to take exception to chapter 21. Which section? Not 21.1. Not 21.2 – 4. Not 21.5. So which part? And that question reveals the hole in your argument.

    Out of curiosity: Do you say creeds in your worship service? For they are not listed in ch. 21 …

  134. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 30, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Ouch. That should be “Calvin’s 1542 Genevan Liturgy.” Quite the anachronism!

  135. April 30, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Re 131.
    Whether choosing to separate or work from within, Puritans generally rejected the worship and government of the CofE. A brief if imperfect perhaps entry on Puritanism is given here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=PN7UMUTBBPAC&lpg=PA484&dq=puritan%20intitle%3Adictionary&pg=PA484#v=onepage&q&f=false

    The Westminster Assembly did not have to condemn every worship practice or bit of heresy or idolatry they knew about. In the case of worship for instance, as I have already noted in this thread or one similar, in their directory for worship, the Ds noted what they could in good conscience from Scripture impose on the churches as biblical worship. They didn’t have to note everything they disagreed with in the CofE. In the other of the Westminster documents they might note some things in particular but again they did not need to exhaustively condemn every error as they laid out correct doctrine. You can find out more about the basic tenets and mindset of the Puritans at the WA in standard histories such as those by Mitchel and Hetherington (though both are dated and incorrect on this or that). See

    http://books.google.com/books?id=P0o3AAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:mitchell+inauthor:alexander+intitle:westminster&hl=en&ei=cWS8TeakEuTW0QHPwczQBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    http://books.google.com/books?id=wB1BAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=inauthor:hetherington+intitle:westminster&hl=en&ei=uWS8TfnJBsbY0QGKooTMBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

  136. John Harutunian said,

    April 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Chris-

    Re; #135>The Westminster Assembly did not have to condemn every worship practice or bit of heresy or idolatry they knew about.

    This sounds fine in theory. The problem is, assuming that I understand the Regulative Principle (and specifically the puritans’ application of it) correctly, it’s not just a case of failing to condemn a minor, or occasional, worship practice. Chanted/sung prayers are hymns. As such they would, I assume, fall under the category of “worshiping God according to the devices of man”. In other words, will worship. This might not constitute idolatry, but such worship is held to be sinful, isn’t it?
    If so, then it’s extraordinary that -either when drawing up the Confession, or (as far as I know) in their other writings- none of the divines spoke against the practice. The most reasonable inference is that they held it to be among “things indifferent.” Indeed, Robert Morey (D.Min., Westminster Theological Seminary) notes that some of these divines, in their commentaries on Ephesians, Colossians, and James, argued on behalf of hymns of human composure in worship.

  137. April 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I have already explained the divines position plainly stated in their DfPW. I suggest reading more on the subject of the assembly before sticking to such a theory blindly. I am no scholar, but only a bit of reading makes clear your dog won’t hunt.

  138. April 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    As far as hymns and Dr. Morey’s piece, I refer again to the Winzer article for the counter argument. I believe also the Morey was reviewed in Dr. Frank Smith’s various works on the RPW which have appeared in The Confessional Presbyterian journal. If not in his two part series on sixty years of RPW literature, in later book reviews.

  139. John Harutunian said,

    April 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    >As far as hymns and Dr. Morey’s piece, I refer again to the Winzer article for the counter argument.

    But Winzer calls Needham’s book a failure! Which Winzer article are you referring to?

  140. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Chris, which are the important works to read concerning

    * The making of the DPW
    * Pro-EP arguments
    * Anti-EP arguments?

    Thanks,

  141. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Bob, I’ve been investigating worship between Moses and David. Here are a couple of things of interest:

    (1) The song of Moses (Deut. 31 – 32) was taught to the Israelites in assembly (that is, before the Lord) and directed to be taught to their children (32.46).

    (2) Several festivals explicitly required trumpet music (Lev. 23.23-25, Num 10.10, 29.1).

    (3) Several times of worship were characterized as “festivals” and to be celebrated with “rejoicing.”

    (4) David actually appoints musicians *prior to* even the conception of the temple. The song leader appears to have prior experience at it (1 Chron 15.22).

    (5) Num 21.17, 18; Ex. 15.1 – 21; and Judges 5 all record songs sung “to the Lord” or “before the Lord.”

    (6) David composed songs that were not in the Psalms — e.g., 2 Sam 22 and 1 Sam 1.17ff. That later song is said to have been recorded in “the book of Jashar” — apparently, there were still more songs. Solomon likewise composed songs (1 Kings 4.32).

    None of that adds up to an absolute case that there was singing in worship. It does however change the burden of proof.

    For we see that there was at least one song sung in worship. Was it really the only one? We see that there was trumpet music in worship. We see that there were festivals with rejoicing as a part of worship — is it really plausible that these would be song-free? We see that David installed singers for worship (prior to the conception of the temple), yet there is no record of a special command from God to do so. And we see that the Israelites appeared to be familiar with the concept of worship singers (1 Chron 15.16, 22) prior to David’s installation.

    In light of all that it seems *more probable* (but not certain) that there was singing in worship during the tabernacle period.

  142. John Harutunian said,

    May 1, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Jeff, I appreciate your post #141. I think we’re on similar wavelengths. However, Scott Clark, in response to your Biblical erudition, would simply say that we’re not “canonical actors.”
    Wondering how you’d deal with this.

  143. bsuden said,

    May 1, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    131 Hi John

    The point about the Assembly vis a vis Anglicanism does not take into account the reformed view of worship, commonly called the “regulative principle of worship” or RPW these days. It is opposed to the Anglican view of worship in Art. 20 of the Thirty Nine Articles wherein the church has a right to decree things which are not forbidden in Scripture.

    IOW it is enough that God hasn’t commanded something – either explicitly, by good and necessary consequence or approved example – for it to be verboten. That means there is no need for a veritable laundry list of forbidden items and practices that the Roman church might drag into worship along with the kitchen sink.

    In regard to chanting, prayers for the dead, worship of saints and the Apocrypha, one, the Apocrypha was never mentioned in relation to worship in WCF 21, but rather as not being part of inspired Scripture in WCF 1:3. Two, as per Chris, it does not follow that since the divines brought up some forbidden practices, that they brought up all forbidden practices and therefore chanting prayers is necessarily/presumably indifferent because they did not specifically forbid it.

    J.I. Packer is what is known as the exception to the rule. But after ‘94 and the “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” fiasco, respectfully Packer’s puritan bona fides are under a cloud.

    That spoken prayers and sung prayers are subsumed, according to Calvin, under the more general terms of prayer (and praise) of the church is nothing to the argument. Rather it is a shell game, if not equivocation. IOW that spoken prayers and sung prayers are called prayers does not mean they are the same thing, for if they are, why the spoken/sung distinction in the first place? IOW the flip flop in content for prayer in general and sung prayer is to trade on the liberty in spoken prayer, in order to allow the same for sung prayers, i.e. to erase the distinction.

    Because we have liberty in spoken prayers and they are prayers in the general sense,
    so too we have liberty in sung prayers because they are prayers in the general sense.

    Or
    Spoken prayers are prayers in the general sense.
    Spoken prayers are not restricted to the ipsissima verba.
    But sung prayers are prayers in the general sense also.
    Therefore they are not restricted to the ipsissima verba.

    OK, then dogs are mammals in the general sense and live on land.
    So too dolphins are mammals and live on land.

    Think fallacy of the undistributed middle term.
    Again.

    The presence of an inspired hymnbook in the OT implies the command to sing the same.
    Moreover we know that that’s exactly what was done with the psalms of David, as well that the P&R have neither a baptist theology or hermeneutic. Whatsoever is commanded in the OT is commanded in the NT so long as it has not been forbidden or fulfilled. While the typical worship of the OT temple was fulfilled in Christ at Calvary, if not Pentecost, the psalms are not typical elements in the sacrificial worship.

    cordially

  144. bsuden said,

    May 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    133 Jeff.

    If your argument is not:

    Prayer is a prescribed element of worship.
    Prayer is left out of WCF 21:5
    But hymns are left out of WCF 21:5
    Therefore hymns are a prescribed element of worship

    Then what is it?

    And who denies that WCF 21:5 is not exhaustive. I made it very clear that according to WCF21:1, the ordinary and special parts of worship are contained in 21:3-5.

    The “bigger picture here” is that while the West. Stands were arguably compromise documents, they were written to bring about “conjunction and uniformity” in doctrine, worship, discipline and government”. And while it is true that “The Confession was deliberately written so as to make Scripture and not itself the final rule of faith. This is explicitly evident in 1.9 – 10 and 31.3″, that is beside the point.

    IOW it defies belief that the divines in order to their purpose of orthodox uniformity would only give us some of the commanded elements of worship, but not all. That just as they could leave out some things that were forbidden, they could and would leave out some things that were commanded. Were they incompetent or negligent to the purpose of WCF21, much more the charge of uniformity in the SL&Cov? I think not.

    Again to parse 21:5 grammatically to say what we know is not true; that the divines who edited and authorized a specific psalter and adamantly opposed the introduction of another psalter along side their first recommendation, at least two times in the written record, could or would have then left out the singing uninspired hymns if they thought it were commanded, is simply specious. It is clutching at straw, if not special pleading.

    As for creeds, we have been here before a couple of the times in the discussion. They are generally considered to come under the ‘lawful oaths and vows’ of the ‘special occasions of worship’ in 21:5. True, the reformed churches recite the Apostles’s Creed as a regular part of worship, but the West. Standard only annex it to the Shorter Catechism, denying that it is apostolic, canonical or a prayer, yet its substance is contained in the L&S Catechisms and it is a ‘brief sum of the faith, agreeable to the Word and anciently received in the church’.

    Tithes are no part of NT economy being done away with in Christ. The only pre-Mosaic examples were of Abraham of the spoils of war and Jacob voluntarily. So a S.Presbyterian like Thos. Peck (Miscellanies, I:130-157) following Owen, though Peck saw the collection as being part of worship.

    Still “taking the offering” is not considered an element of worship in the Standards per se, other than the DPW says “The collection for the poor, is so to be ordered that no part of public worship be thereby hindered” in the rubric on celebrating communion. (Musical accompaniment of the offering, if no hymns are sung, amounts to what? Mood music?) While modern American presbyterians no longer follow the practice, the Scotch had a collection box at the door in which the congregation put their gifts.

    But your argument would have all of us who believe that Scripture commands hymn-singing to take exception to chapter 21.

    Yup.
    Either that or a declaratory statement/animus imponentis.
    The last is what most modern American presbyterian churches have done. Singing hymns is not a violation of WCF21

    141

    Did your investigation turn up whether or not the Song of Moses was sung in worship? And like I asked Richard, if so, does it also allow for choirs and instruments?

    Does the parallel in our day of the ringing of bells in the steeple mean trumpets were allowed in Mosaic worship? IOW distinguish between the call to worship or assembly and what took place in the same.

    Num 21.17, 18; Ex. 15.1 – 21; and Judges 5 are all categorically instances of worship? In the temple?

    That there is no record of a special command is no argument against the RPW in that “approved examples” are taken as commands, much more that later on in the times of Hezekiah, reference is made to David appointing things under inspiration.

    Lefevbre argues that the Book of Jashar possibly preceded the Book of Psalms.

    And so forth.

    Thank you.

  145. John Harutunian said,

    May 2, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Hi, Bob-
    Re#131:

    >That spoken prayers and sung prayers are subsumed, according to Calvin, under the more general terms of prayer (and praise) of the church is nothing to the argument. Rather it is a shell game, if not equivocation. IOW that spoken prayers and sung prayers are called prayers does not mean they are the same thing, for if they are, why the spoken/sung distinction in the first place?

    In the interest of systematic and encyclopedic completeness, it was perhaps appropriate for Calvin to make a distinction which the Bible doesn’t make. But the distinction, considered as a _categorical_ distinction, was a later development -an anachronism which can’t be imposed on Scripture. I say this is the light of Psalm 72:20, Psalm 55:1 (“Give ear to my prayer, O Lord”), Psalm 54:2 (“Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth”), Acts 2:42 (where singing is subsumed under prayer), Ephesians 5:19 (“speaking to one another is psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” [How do you go about "speaking" in a "song" or a psalm if speaking and singing are two different acts? Does Paul really need help from Calvin here? Only if one imposes the modern anachronistic categorical distinction upon the New Testament Christians]), Deuteronomy 32, which records the “song” of Moses which he taught the congregation; wheareas in Deuteronomy 31:30 and again in 32:44 it says he “spoke” all the words of this song, which he refers to in verse 46 as a “law. Again, no clear demarcation between a speech act and a singing act. 

    >it does not follow that since the divines brought up some forbidden practices, that they brought up all forbidden practices and therefore chanting prayers is necessarily/presumably indifferent because they did not specifically forbid it.

    True in principle. The more relevant question is: Have any Anglicans ever brought up the practice of chanting prayers and forbidden it? Speaking as an Anglican -none that I know of.

    >The presence of an inspired hymnbook in the OT implies the command to sing the same.
    But you still haven’t shown that it was a hymnbook! No music, no divine command for the congregation to sing all 150 Psalms in worship.

    >Whatsoever is commanded in the OT is commanded in the NT so long as it has not been forbidden or fulfilled.

    But in Luke 24:44 Jesus says that all things which had been written about Him “in the Psalms” must be fulfilled. And when Jesus cried out in Hebrew “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” , and subsequently “It is finished” -surely this was a “fulfillment” of Psalm 22:1?

    Finally, I hope you don’t mind my butting into your exchange with Jeff!

    >Again to parse 21:5 grammatically to say what we know is not true; that the divines who edited and authorized a specific psalter and adamantly opposed the introduction of another psalter along side their first recommendation, at least two times in the written record, could or would have then left out the singing uninspired hymns if they thought it were commanded, is simply specious. It is clutching at straw, if not special pleading.

    But we’re dealing with two different issues here. The divines’ sole authorization of a specific Psalter was presumably made on the basis of accuracy in translation (though factors such as congregational familiarity, naturalness of flow and singability might also have been taken into consideration). Whether man-made hymns were allowed in addition is a separate question.

  146. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 2, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Bob (#144):

    Thanks for the interactions. I do appreciate where you’re coming from, even though I don’t agree.

    To me, it stretches belief to think that the Israelites were commanded to have religious festivals that were song-free zones. I’ve never heard of any festival in any culture anywhere like that.

    Nevertheless, the probability is not 0. Maybe, just maybe, the Israelites conducted their tabernacle worship without song, and David learned how to play the lyre and compose psalms by special inspiration from the Lord, and David created tabernacle worship de novo without any recorded command from God. Could be. So there we go: Your argument is within the realm of possibility.

    You asked,

    If your argument is not:

    Prayer is a prescribed element of worship.
    Prayer is left out of WCF 21:5
    But hymns are left out of WCF 21:5
    Therefore hymns are a prescribed element of worship

    Then what is it?

    It is:

    * Prayer is left out of WCoF 21.5.
    * Therefore other items might be also, and we must test those items against Scripture (not 21.3 – 5).

    21.3 – 5 IS, as Chris rightly said in #135, what the Westminster Divines were willing to impose on the churches.
    21.3 – 5 IS NOT, therefore, an exhaustive list of all elements that are or might ever be shown to be commanded in Scripture.

    And in the case of my denomination (PCA), it is the judgment of the general assembly that hymn-singing is commanded. (Thus the BCO). So …

    * Given that 21.5 is not exhaustive.
    * Given that hymn-singing fits under 21.1 according to GA.
    * Therefore, I have strong warrant to believe that hymn-singing is commanded in Scripture.

    That is the argument.

    You take care. Thanks again for the conversation.

  147. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

    John H: However, Scott Clark would simply say that we’re not “canonical actors.”

    I would say, He’s right that we are not canonical actors. For example: We are not at liberty to claim new revelation. We know this because Jesus is God’s final word to us.

    But where’s the relevance?

    For no-one claims that we are creating canon with hymns. We believe rather that we are faithfully following Paul’s command to sing “psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit.”

    We do not believe that such hymns are canonical, any more than our prayers or sermons are canonical, any more than the songs that Solomon composed were canonical.

    It is not the RPW that is in dispute here. What is disputed is whether the command to sing in Col 3.17 refers to genres of songs OR to the specific psalms denoted “psalms, hymns, and odes” in Psalms. That’s an exegetical question, not a canonical one.

    Additionally, I would ask Clark whether he sings the psalms that are *not* denoted “psalms”, “hymns”, or “odes”, such as Psalm 1. If so, then the EP argument faces both ways …

  148. Cris Dickason said,

    May 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Well, I’ve been tagging along like a well-intentioned little Shire foot-pad. Many things I would have offered have been more cogently stated by the brother from Maryland, Jeff C.

    After all these many words it still comes down to this, as found in #143:

    While the typical worship of the OT temple was fulfilled in Christ at Calvary, if not Pentecost, the psalms are not typical elements in the sacrificial worship.

    This is still only an assertion and (unless my eyes glazed over at some point) has not been shown, or explained or proved. Precisely how is it that the psalter of the typical, the psalter of the Temple, gets to survive the Temple’s fulfillment so as to be the exclusive song book of the Christian Church?

    Further, for those who would also forgo musical instruments, how do the instructions in songs of praise to praise with various instruments partake of a typical property, while the words containing those instructions are not typical.

    This is the real core issue, and I believe it has been misplaced amongst the scattered insights of Calvin, Clark, Dabney and Divines Westminsterian, etc., as well as all you fine folk herein.

    -=Cris=-

  149. Cris Dickason said,

    May 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    For fun here are some stats through comment #147 of this topic.

    With only a minimal removal of words (like the “related posts” stuff) the original post and 147 comments comes to 40,572 words.
    the 147 timestamps for each comment are 8 words each or 1,176 words.

    147 comments means “x said” or ” 1st last said” repeated 147 times. Some of us use 1st & last name, some just one name/id word. So 147 * 2 = 294 words.

    So this thread is close to 39,102 words up through comment 147. All word counts courtesy of MS Word 2003 and some spare brain-cycles on my part.
    Y’all will surely let me know if submission #148 is worthy of being counted .

    -=Cris=-

  150. bsuden said,

    May 2, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    145 John,

    Your argument is what?

    1. That because Anglicans chant the psalms and chant/read out of the prayer/service book and since their prayers are not restricted to the ipsissima verba of Scripture, so too their psalms?

    2. The Bible doesn’t make the distinction between singing and speaking in prayer, but rather that the rule – not the exception – is that prayers are sung.

    If so particularly regarding #2, the burden to prove belongs to whoever asserts it.
    It hasn’t been done yet by far.

    But good luck. I am unaware of an across the board consensus by reformed expositors on the proposition.

    That Moses spoke when he taught the song is no matter. So a precentor reads the line, gives out the lyrics before the congregation sings it.

    Regarding the command to sing psalms, for the divines that meant:
    1.An explicit command in Scripture, such as 1 Chron 16:9, Ps. 105:2, Jm. 5:13, if not that over 22 times in the Book of Praises (Psalms) we are told to sing praise unto the Lord
    2. Good and necessary consequence
    3. As well as approved examples of singing of psalms.

    But to flip flop and then argue that it needs to be proved that psalms are songs or hymns – when they plainly state that they are, fifteen times – is to beg one’s credulity, if not competence to the question.

    Regarding Luke 24:44, Ps. 22:, distinguish between prophetic fulfillment of the psalms and fulfillment of the ceremonial/typical worship of the temple.

    And while any or all are free to comment in the combox, again that their comments are necessarily germane is not a given. As above, let the reader judge.

    The divines only authorized the singing of psalms in the NT public worship of God.
    Neither did they think that “psalm” meant any religious song.
    Consequently with the RPW we need to see a definite statement from them that singing of hymns or religious songs was commanded, because if something was commanded the divines fell down on their job if they didn’t include it when they came to the topic.

    In short, any way we cut the cake, it’s still burnt.
    But au contraire we are still being told that’s because it is only chocolate.
    For anglicans maybe, but not presbyterians.

    Thank you.

  151. bsuden said,

    May 2, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    146 Jeff,

    Again, if the divines could leave out a commanded element of worship in WCF 21:3-5 in light of and according to what they see the Scriptural principle is in WCF21:1, what’s the point of having a confession at all?

    Again, we need an explicit command, G&N consequence or an approved example for song and instruments in the Mosaic tabernacle worship. You have yet to present one, all the while the same can be demonstrated for the Davidic worship of the tabernacle in the transition to the temple (for egs. 1 Chr. 23:1-6, 28:11-13,19, 2 Chr. 29:25,26)

    I think rather the PCA’s take on the confession is that psalms as per the proof texts of Eph. 5 and Col. 3 include psalms, hymns and religious songs.

    147
    What is disputed is whether the command to sing in Col 3.17 refers to genres of songs OR to the specific psalms denoted “psalms, hymns, and odes” in Psalms. That’s an exegetical question, not a canonical one.

    Rather it is between genres of songs or genres of psalms.

    Additionally, I would ask Clark whether he sings the psalms that are *not* denoted “psalms”, “hymns”, or “odes”, such as Psalm 1. If so, then the EP argument faces both ways …

    EP … so many Errors Perpetrated, so little time.

    Au revoir!

  152. bsuden said,

    May 2, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Cris
    148 on #143:

    It is a given, that the typical worship of the temple represents either Christ or the Holy Spirit if not both. With Calvary and Pentecost, those types have been fulfilled.

    Further, while the psalms contain references to typical worship – the sacrifices and musical instruments – the psalms themselves are not part of the ceremonial worship.

    So Calvin on Ps.33:2:

    I have no doubt that playing cymbals, touching the harp and the viol, and all that kind of music, which is so frequently mentioned in the Psalms, was a part of the education; that is to say, the puerile [i.e. immature] instruction of the law: I speak of the stated service of the temple. For even now, if believers choose to cheer themselves with musical instruments, they should, I think, make it their object not to dissever their cheerfulness from the praises of God. But when they frequent their sacred assemblies, musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The Papists, therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things from the Jews. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise, but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostle is far more pleasing to him.

    Or Ps. 81:3:

    With respect to the tabret, harp and psaltery , we have formerly observed [Ps. 33:2, 71:22], and will find it necessary to afterwards to repeat the same remark [Ps. 92:1,150:3-5], that the Levites, under the law, were justified in making use of instrumental music in the worship of God, it having been his will to train his people, while they were yet tender and like children, by such rudiments, until the coming of Christ. But now when the clear light of the gospel has dissipated the shadows of the law, and taught us that God is to be served in a simpler form, it would be to act a foolish and mistaken part to imitate that which the prophet enjoined only upon those of his own time. From this, it is very apparent that the papists have shown themselves to be very apes in transferring this to themselves.

    149
    You ain’t seen nothing yet. Compared to 2k and Roman church posts in the past, the comments here are a mere pittance. Neither was I necessarily involved in prolonging the first one.

    Ciao

  153. John Harutunian said,

    May 3, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Bob,

    >Your argument is what?

    >1. That because Anglicans chant the psalms and chant/read out of the prayer/service book and since their prayers are not restricted to the ipsissima verba of Scripture, so too their psalms?

    No. It is that Anglicans, together with Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, often chant their uninspired prayers. No Anglican that I know of -either at Westminster or anywhere else- considers this to be unbiblical worship.

    >2. The Bible doesn’t make the distinction between singing and speaking in prayer, but rather that the rule – not the exception – is that prayers are sung.

    I honestly don’t know which of the two was done more often in New Testament worship. But among the biblical passages proving my position is Ephesians 5:19 -“speaking to one another is psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…” As I wrote, how do you go about “speaking” in a “song” or a psalm if speaking and singing are two different acts? It would be like “walking” and “running” at the same time. I don’t say that singing and speaking are synonyms. I do say that unlike some Reformed Christians, the biblical writers (like Paul in this case) often used the two concepts interchangeably.

    >Consequently with the RPW we need to see a definite statement from [the Westminster divines] that singing of hymns or religious songs was commanded, because if something was commanded the divines fell down on their job if they didn’t include it when they came to the topic.

    No. The Bible nowhere commands the offering up of silent prayer in worship. That doesn’t mean that it’s forbidden. And because the divines didn’t include it, does that mean that they fell down on the job?

    >That Moses spoke when he taught the song is no matter. So a precentor reads the line, gives out the lyrics before the congregation sings it.

    Bob, you really need to take a serious look at what you’re saying. A precentor just speaks the _lyrics_ (i.e., words) of a line of a Psalm? Because the congregation doesn’t know the words, but does know the music? It just wasn’t done this way. “Lining out” historically refers to a leader’s singing a line before the congregation sang it, as documented by the Westminster Assembly, which prescribed it in 1644(for use in churches lacking either in literate members or printed Psalters). Just speaking the words, and then having the congregation sing them, would be needlessly confusing -whether done by Moses or a precentor.

  154. Stuart said,

    May 3, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Bob,

    Further, while the psalms contain references to typical worship – the sacrifices and musical instruments – the psalms themselves are not part of the ceremonial worship.

    To be fair, I think this is one of the weaker arguments for EP.

    Why would God command those of us who live on this side of the death and resurrection of Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit to sing only psalms when some of those psalms reference OT types which are now already fulfilled?

    When the church sings “Burnt sacrifices I shall offer, With choicest fatlings pay my vows. With smoke of rams, with goats and bullocks I shall adore Thee in Thy house” we are explicitly singing of the type and the shadow. Not that we can’t jump ahead in our thinking to the Christ, but we are one step removed from that by what we sing with our lips.

  155. John Harutunian said,

    May 3, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Proregno-

    In #27 you quote Michael Bushell:
    >The obligation to pray is not fulfilled by singing,

    But David thought it was! Check Psalm 72:20 (“The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended”) as well as Psalm 55:1 (“Give ear to my prayer, O Lord”), and Psalm 54:2 (“Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth”).
    It looks to me like you’d have to say, “When David sang those words he was praying, but when we sing them we’re singing praise.” Which doesn’t seem to make sense. (For one thing, the last two references aren’t praise, but petition.)

  156. bsuden said,

    May 5, 2011 at 1:01 am

    153 John
    Whatever Anglicans believe, the original presbyterian position is found in the Dir. Publ. Worship.
    To argue that the DPW allows the chanting uninspired prayers is strained to say the least.
    Besides, I understood anglicans to chant both the psalms and the prayers from the prayerbook and we know what opinion the Assembly had of the prayerbook.
    FTM I would be inclined to say it’s a nonstrater/adiaphora, but behind it, whether you realize it or not, is the old argument that if we can chant both, then both are not restricted to the ipsissima verba. But we’ve already been there many times in this discussion, no matter how you try to approach it from a different angle.

    How do you speak a song as in Eph. 5? Easy. How many times have you heard a minister quote a hymn – or even a psalm – in a sermon, without singing it? Or are we going to argue for chanting sermons because we can chant prayers because they are both uninspired? There’s too much flip flopping and equivocation going on in your terms for your arguments to hold water or carry a tune.

    No. The Bible nowhere commands the offering up of silent prayer in worship. That doesn’t mean that it’s forbidden. And because the divines didn’t include it, does that mean that they fell down on the job?

    The statement is a failure to understand the RPW. The divines included what was commanded in worship. You yourself admit that silent prayer was not commanded. Ergo . . . what’s the problem? There isn’t one.

    As far as lining out, you need to read the DPW. What does it say. The line is “read” out before the singing of it by the congregation, much more Moses could read/say/speak the lyrics to the congregation before they sang the song. What is gets down to is trying to learn the words or the tune. If the first, the lyrics are read. If the second, they are sung, but there is still speaking going on in learning a song.

    154 Stuart

    To be sure, the psalms do not always fit our sensibilities, much more the spiffy and santitized ethos of the CCM P&W gang. So what? No doubt it scandalizes some, but it might seem your argument proves too much. The occasional and typical exceptions in the psalms rule out their NT use. That has not been the historic judgement of the church.
    for EP.

    155 John

    Your bias is showing, as in the Book of Praises is not full of psalms of praise, but prayers. Rather they include prayer and petition, but God would have us sing them because we don’t know how to praise him of ourselves. Neither does he need our prayers, he already knows what we need, much more what we will pray – even if they are not the same thing as they often are, to our sin, shame, confusion and ignorance – but we even learn how to pray from singing some of David’s inspired prayers.

    Thank you.

  157. bsuden said,

    May 5, 2011 at 1:09 am

    156
    Do over.
    The last line responding to Stuart in 154 should read:

    That has not been the historic judgement of the church.
    Period.

    IOW regardless if the church in history has been EP or not, she has always seen the Psalter as a whole, not just a few psalms here or there, as appropriate in NT worship.

  158. John Harutunian said,

    May 5, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Bob-

    >Whatever Anglicans believe, the original presbyterian position is found in the Dir. Publ. Worship.

    I agree. The point is: what was that position? My claim is that it didn’t involve the rejection of sung uninspired prayers any more than it did the plain speaking of them. I think we’re back to your old assumption that all uninspired prayers must be spoken. This is what I can’t find either in the NT or in the WCF.

    >we know what opinion the Assembly had of the prayerbook.

    What was that opinion? I don’t see any references to the prayerbook in the WCF. And the Directory of Public Worship didn’t reject it in toto. For example, the prayerbook includes confession of sin, exhortations to repentance, and the approach of God through the grace of Jesus Christ. The Directory rejected none of these things.
    Perhaps more to the point: the prayerbook didn’t _command_ the chanting of prayers. Chanting was a _way_ that Anglicans offered up the prayers that were found in the prayer book. Where did the Westminster divines reject that way of offering up prayer?

    >How do you speak a song as in Eph. 5? Easy. How many times have you heard a minister quote a hymn – or even a psalm – in a sermon, without singing it?

    This is true. The problem is: Ephesians 5:19 says nothing about “quoting”. Take a good look at it: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” What you call flip-flopping, and what I call interchangeableness, is found in the verse itself. Speaking/singing.

    >The divines included what was commanded in worship. You yourself admit that silent prayer was not commanded. Ergo . . . what’s the problem? There isn’t one.

    Here you’re quite right. My statement had the wrong thrust. Let me reformulate it: The Scriptures don’t command silent prayer to be offered up in worship. Does that mean that it may not be offered up, just because it’s not commanded? As far as I know, no Presbyterian teaches that.

    >As far as lining out, you need to read the DPW. What does it say. The line is “read” out before the singing of it by the congregation

    You’re right again. The problem is: words aren’t the only things that are “read”. Music is also “read”. And Wikipedia defines lining out as: “a form of a cappella hymn-singing or hymnody in which a leader, often called the clerk or precentor, gives each line of a hymn tune as it is to be sung, usually in a chanted form giving or suggesting the tune.” In other words, what the precentor “gives” usually includes the “tune.”

    >What is gets down to is trying to learn the words or the tune.

    But the only way you can teach a tune without teaching the words at the same time would be to just sing the tune using nonsense syllables (like la-la), or just singing it on “ah.” This would create confusion. How would the people then know which syllables go with which pitches?
    And when teaching a song, just speaking the words without the melody doesn’t make sense either; because it’s the melody which makes the unfamiliar words “stick”.
    This is why you see childrens’ songs whose words consist of names of books of the Bible (“Joshua, Judges, Ruth…” etc.) It’s associating the words with the pitches which enables the kids to remember the words. Breaking things up into 1.first the words (spoken), then 2.now the words with music added -this complicates the process.

    >Your bias is showing, as in [that you're claiming that] the Book of Praises is not full of psalms of praise, but prayers. Rather they include prayer and petition,

    Bob, the truth is the other way around. David doesn’t say that the Psalms “include” prayers. Rather, as he is wrapping up the second book of Psalms, he implies that the Psalms _are_ prayers: “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended” (Psalm 72:20). The next Psalm, Psalm 73, is a “prayer” of Asaph.

    And I still don’t know where the Bible refers to the 150 Psalms as “the Book of Praises”! It would really help if you could refer me to the passage where it does.

    Thanks.

  159. stuart said,

    May 5, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Bob,

    A few comments . . .

    First, please note what my concern actually was in comment 154.

    You said, “Further, while the psalms contain references to typical worship – the sacrifices and musical instruments – the psalms themselves are not part of the ceremonial worship.”

    To which I responded, “To be fair, I think this is one of the weaker arguments for EP.”

    (Looking back on my comment, I probably should have said “this is one of the weak spots in the argument for EP.”)

    I was not arguing for CCM, P&W, hymns, etc. I was simply pointing out what I believe to be a weak spot in the EP argument.

    What I was trying to point out is that if we are commanded to sing only psalms from the Book of Psalms, and some of those Psalms “contain references to typical worship – the sacrifices and musical instruments -“, then there is at least a bit of tension in our post resurrection of Christ/post Pentecost era in which those typical elements of worship have been fulfilled.

    Doesn’t the Epistle to the Hebrews unequivocally state those sacrifices are things to be left behind in our worship because their real function was to point us to Christ? So we leave those elements of OT worship behind in actual practice of the thing itself, but we continue the practice of singing about them in our worship services. Maybe I’m off, but that practice creates some tension for me.

    That’s not to say I think such tension necessarily upsets the whole argument for EP. What I am saying, however, is that tension is a weak spot in the EP argument. A weak spot can be strengthened through various means, but
    it is still a weak spot in the way EPers I have known usually express their view.

    In addition, admitting there is a weak spot in the EP argument is not suggesting we should sing “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. There are other options. At this point I think the “Exclusive Scripture” argument is actually stronger than EP, but since the EP argument doesn’t allow for singing of anything but psalms from the Book of Psalms such an option is usually not on the table.

    Second, in response to some of your comments in which you responded back to me . . .

    To be sure, the psalms do not always fit our sensibilities, much more the spiffy and santitized ethos of the CCM P&W gang. So what?

    I’m not advocating that we base our worship practices on “our sensibilities.” I’m advocating a theology of worship that integrates the whole counsel of God in what we sing. We do this in our prayers, sermons, vows, etc. Why would we not do the same in the songs we sing?

    No doubt it scandalizes some, but it might seem your argument proves too much. The occasional and typical exceptions in the psalms rule out their NT use.

    Not sure I follow completely. Are you talking about how the NT authors wrote about those typical worship practices? The NT authors used the typical worship of the OT in their writings, but they used those things in such a way that they explicitly expressed the greater reality to which those types pointed (Christ, Holy Spirit, etc.). That’s not where I see tension. The tension arises when a psalm is sung and there is no explicit connection made (in the song or in any explanation of the psalm) to the realities of the new covenant and the blessings of Christ and the Spirit.

    That has not been the historic judgement of the church. Period . . . IOW regardless if the church in history has been EP or not, she has always seen the Psalter as a whole, not just a few psalms here or there, as appropriate in NT worship.

    You’re right that psalmody has always had a place in the worship of the church. But there is a distinction between a general psalmody and EP.

    I haven’t once in this thread argued against singing psalms. I have raised what I believe to be a weakness in the EP argument, but I have not argued that we should never sing the psalms.

    Whether one is EP or not, I think it’s fair to address the issue of what place the typical aspects of the psalms have in our worship and how we deal with them. We cannot simply say “the Book of Psalms is the songbook of the church” and leave it at that. We need to address how we engage those psalms in our new covenant context.

  160. stuart said,

    May 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    oops . . . in #159 the section that states “To be sure, the psalms do not always fit our sensibilities, much more the spiffy and santitized ethos of the CCM P&W gang. So what?” is a quote from Bob that I failed to italicize or put in quotation marks.

  161. bsuden said,

    May 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    158 John

    There are any number of remarks that could be made, but long story short:

    1. You argue from the Wikpedia, no doubt a virtual well of reformed truth, that:

    (W)ords aren’t the only things that are “read”. Music is also “read”. . . (the) precentor, gives each line of a hymn tune as it is to be sung, usually in a chanted form giving or suggesting the tune.

    OK, fair enough. The problem then is that while the preface to the Assembly’s gives all due recognition of what the first generation reformers accomplished in the Liturgy, a full half of the preface is taken up with the Assembly’s objections to it.

    Among those objections, we find them to say that the Liturgy “hath proved an offence. . . . not to speak of the reading of all the prayers, which very greatly increased the burden of it”.

    IOW the reading/chanting/singing of the prayers increased the offence and burden of the Liturgy/Book of Common Prayer/Servicebook.

    But your argument on the other hand elsewhere is that the Assembly did not condemn the reading/singing/chanting of the prayerbook in the DPW. (And therefore since it is not forbidden, it is allowed – which is to turn the RPW inside out – if not that the practice is adiaphora or indifferent.

    Hmmm.

    2. As to how, why or where we know or are told in Scripture that the 150 Psalms are “the Book of Praises”, a respective word count for “praise”, “psalm”, “song” and “prayer” tallies 181, 83, 46 and 35 respectively. Even granting that titles of the books in Scripture are not inspired, is it any wonder then that the collection of psalms in the Hebrew Scripture is commonly known as the Book of Praises?

    Yet your argument essentially seems to be that prayers are essentially religious songs/psalms, in that we may/should chant/sing them just like songs/psalms though you have yet to give us any reformed expositors or theologians that concur.

    And inexorably in the way these matters go, if discussions like this one are any general indication, the further conclusion, that song/psalms should not be restricted to the ipsissima verba, because prayers aren’t is assumed to be a given, if not that the Assembly thought so also.

    Rather the West. divines, if not also the Scripture, distinguish between psalm/songs and prayers – spoken and sung prayers – though they are generically called prayers.

    159 Stuart

    I realize what your point was and that you are not a card carrying member of the Contemporary P&W Gang.

    My point, was that scandal or stumbling block though it might appear to be, it is hardly insurmountable. Indeed the Book of Hebrews contains as many if not more quotes from the Psalms as any other NT book, much more Hebrews quotes the Psalms to the point that the Psalms point us to Christ, the typical language notwithstanding.

    cordially

  162. John Harutunian said,

    May 5, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Bob-

    >1.Among those objections, we find [the Westminster divines] to say that the Liturgy “hath proved an offence. . . . not to speak of the reading of all the prayers, which very greatly increased the burden of it”.

    But exactly what increased the burden? I’d say two things: a)the sheer quantity of the prayers required (“all the prayers…very greatly increased the burden”) and b)the pride of place given to the prayer book by (as you’ve pointed out) the Anglican “state church”. Presumably there was given an ecclesiastical mandate which had no biblical warrant. OK -there the divines had a point. But there’s no evidence that they thought that it was the _chanting_ of prayers -rather than the speaking of them- which created, or increased, the burden. Since Anglicans already chanted Psalms (on this we agree) they were used to chanting; they wouldn’t have found chanting -per se- to be burdensome .

    2. >is it any wonder then that the collection of psalms in the Hebrew Scripture is commonly known as the Book of Praises?

    Well, it might be commonly known as such among adherents to EP, or even to the Regulative Principle in general. But: having grown up in a dispensational church, then joined a conservative congregational church, then having been confirmed as an Episcopalian, then serving as organist at a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, then in a Presbyterian church -I never heard it until I started reading this website.

    >As to how, why or where we know or are told in Scripture that the 150 Psalms are “the Book of Praises”, a respective word count for “praise”, “psalm”, “song” and “prayer” tallies 181, 83, 46 and 35 respectively.

    I don’t doubt your figures. If I were to claim that the theme of praise is no more important in the Psalms than other themes (such as lamentation or imprecation) these statistics would be relevant. But I make no such claim. My point is that Scripture _categorizes_ the Psalms as prayers. The EP position says, “No. The fact that the Psalms are sung makes them to be ‘not-prayers’. Or make them to be compositions which often have ‘the nature of prayer’ (as John Murray puts it), or which ‘overlap’ with prayer, or are prayers is a vaguely ‘generic’ sense”, etc.

    >Yet your argument essentially seems to be that prayers are essentially religious songs/psalms, in that we may/should chant/sing them just like songs/psalms

    You’ve turned my argument around so that it’s backwards. My argument is that the Psalms are essentially prayers (as David notes in Psalm 72:20). “That prayers are essentially religious songs” would be my argument only if I claimed that all prayers are sung, *which I don’t.

    I really think you need to take another look at Acts 2:42. “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Who is Luke referring to? To those who were converted on the day of Pentecost. They were all Jews (check verses 5 and 36). So why doesn’t Luke mention singing Psalms? Did these particular Jews suddenly cease singing Psalms? Or did Luke consider singing Psalms less important than, say, fellowship, so he left it out? The answer becomes clear if we use the basic Reformed hermeneutical guideline of comparing Scripture with Scripture. Luke’s use of the word “prayer” is similar to David’s in Psalm 72:20. So Psalm singing/ chanting is subsumed under Luke’s category of “prayer”.

    So we’ve now established that these canonical prayers (the Psalms) were sung. What about non-canonical prayers? Were they spoken or sung? Implicit in the EP position is the assumption that all non-canonical prayers were spoken. And this is what I see no Biblical evidence for. Ephesians 5:19 is helpful here: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”. To condense Paul’s thought: he’s exhorting the Ephesian Christians to “speak to one another…in…songs”. Which is why I, together with many Reformed commentators, see Paul as using the terms interchangeably.
    The reason why we don’t talk that way today is that we draw a hard and fast line between the two. Unless, of course, we practice chanting, as the NT Christians did. (Chanting is more like speech than most music is because, like speech, it doesn’t have a regular pattern of strong and weak beats. [Think "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."] So there’s less of a hard and fast line.)

  163. bsuden said,

    May 6, 2011 at 1:03 am

    162 John,

    Since Anglicans already chanted Psalms (on this we agree) they were used to chanting; they wouldn’t have found chanting -per se- to be burdensome

    Not. I understand they have or do now, but what they have done in the past, particularly before the high church movement in the 1800’s, who knows? I don’t.

    If, as you contend the practice was well known and allowed, how come we read nothing of it then or since, but now coming from an admitted outsider, we are informed that the divines didn’t have a problem with it and the DPW allows it. Well, maybe. But we got a ways to go to prove it.

    And you left out the “offense” of the Liturgy, even if the further “burden” was that the many rote prayers were read out of a book. The Liturgy stumbled the other reformed churches, encouraged the papists, who thought the reformed were returning to them and encouraged sloth and negligence in the ministry with its canned/formula prayers, if not supplanted the preaching are just a few that are mentioned.

    In short, that the divines would consider chanting indifferent in light of everything else the Liturgy entailed needs to be proven, rather than asserted.
    It’s possible, but in context, unlikely IMO in that they might have considered imprudent to remind people so much of the Servicebook with the practice, even if it were lawful/indifferent. You disagree, but that’s to be expected. Among other things, you hold anglican sympathies. OK, but the Assembly was only nominally anglican at the most. They rejected the worship of prelacy, lock, stock and barrel.

    True, many in the P&R churches have not so much as heard there is such a thing as the RPW or its application re. psalmody, instruments or feastdays. Nevertheless it is the testimony of the WS, if not the reformed tradition.

    The Scripture pre-eminently characterizes the psalms as . . . . wait for it . . . . psalms, religious songs that also can be and are prayers at times, but are also other things, if not pre-eminently praise before they are prayers narrowly considered. That is the testimony of the Hebrew church and the name for Book of Psalms in Hebrew, Sepher Tehillim, the Book of Praises which the Christian church took over as part of its birthright.

    It’s not that I’ve necessarily turned your argument around, but here is where I can see the argument going in favor of uninspired song, which the divines did not endorse, whatever you think of uninspired songs. That is where it has gone in the past and still goes today. I.e scripture doesn’t distinguish between chanting songs or chanting prayers; likewise both are not restricted to the ipsissima verba. It behooves us then to examine that which could exhibit the same tendencies, if not in fact does.

    I don’t deny that psalm singing could be, if not in fact is subsumed under the “prayers” of Acts 4, but I would also include the spoken prayer.

    As for Eph.5 and Col. 3 they are the proof texts for psalmody according to the divines. True, the P&R, particularly today, differ, but that was not the Assembly’s understanding.

    Thank you.

  164. John Harutunian said,

    May 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Bob-

    I wrote,

    Since Anglicans already chanted Psalms (on this we agree) they were used to chanting; they wouldn’t have found chanting -per se- to be burdensome

    You replied,

    >Not. I understand they have or do now, but what they have done in the past, >particularly before the high church movement in the 1800′s, who knows? I don’t.

    You can easily find out. Open a book on the history of music and you’ll learn that up until the 11th century, all music in the Christian Church was chanted. (The specific chant example I gave you was “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, which I figured you’d be familiar with since it’s a Christmas hymn.) And this was what the Anglicans inherited from Roman Catholicism. It had nothing to do with the High Church Oxford Movement of the mid-19thcentury. Rather, it was way back in 1550 that John Marbeck published “The Booke of Common Praier Noted”, consisting of chant settings of the Psalms and canticles. So: This was the way Anglicans gave voice to the Psalms in worship. Chanting. Not singing in the style of modern Christians like you and me -that is, with patterns of strong and weak beats. And this musical style -chanting- goes back to the early church, indeed to the worship of the New Testament.
    This is why I said that Christians in England wouldn’t have found chanting -per se- to be “burdensome”. They were already used to it.

    >The Liturgy stumbled the other reformed churches, encouraged the papists, who >thought the reformed were returning to them and encouraged sloth and negligence >in the ministry with its canned/formula prayers,

    Now you’re raising another issue. Are you saying that only extemporaneous prayers should occur in worship? Or that the Westminster divines taught that? This sounds more Baptist than Presbyterian to me.

    >the Assembly was only nominally anglican at the most.

    But in #105 you wrote,

    >FTM in that the West. Assembly was largely Anglican, one only has to read the >Directory for Public Worship, beginning with the Preface to understand that the >West. Assembly of Ch. of England divines repudiated the Anglican >prayerbook/servicebook/liturgy,

    It’s a long way from being “largely Anglican” to being “only nominally Anglican at the most.” More important, there’s a lot in the Anglican prayerbook/service/liturgy which the divines _didn’t_ repudiate -such as anything which could find support in the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds. So we need to be specific in our focus: Did they repudiate the practice of chanting the non-canonical prayers?

    >The Scripture pre-eminently characterizes the psalms as . . . . wait for it . . . . >psalms, religious songs that also can be and are prayers at times, but are also >other things, if not pre-eminently praise before they are prayers narrowly >considered.

    Where? What Scripture passage(s) are you referring to? The designation of the Psalms as “The Book of Praises” isn’t entirely inappropriate -but it’s not Scripture. Psalm 72:20 doesn’t say that the “praises” of David are ended. Why not? Because the preceding Psalms include not only praise, but also laments (for example in Psalms 41 and 44) imprecations (in Psalms 5, 12, 35, 52 and others) and supplications (throughout). Rather, it says that the “prayers” of David are ended.
    Here’s the issue:

    1. You would say that the Psalms fall primarily into the category of a Book of Praises, a major element of which is prayer.

    2. I would say that the Psalms fall primarily into the category of a book of sung prayers, a major element of which is praise.

    >I don’t deny that psalm singing could be, if not in fact is subsumed under the >“prayers” of Acts [2], but I would also include the spoken prayer.

    Maybe, maybe not. The point is: what Biblical warrant would you have for doing this? (Arguing from your own experience -in which singing and speaking are two different things which can’t be interchanged- isn’t sufficient.) In addition, you’d then have to show that all non-canonical prayers were spoken in NT worship. I don’t see how this could be done.
    I hope I’ve somewhat cleared up the picture (at least re: Anglican chanting!). Thanks for being willing to think about these important issues.

  165. bsuden said,

    May 9, 2011 at 12:29 am

    164 John,

    FWIW I am very familiar with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. We sang it in the Roman church. Sang, not chanted. The priest, in the High Masses for the Dead, chanted the mass. Chanted, not sang. At least what to my mind sounded like a gregorian chant of sorts. FWIW whatever Anglicans do or have done.

    Yet as regards presbyterian doctrine and practice, in the interest of brevity, as well as clarity, would it be too much to ask for due diligence regarding:

    1. The Assembly’s repudiation in the DPW of the Anglican Liturgy and the recitation of prescribed forms for prayers as opposed to what the Assembly actually proposed, extemporaneous premeditated prayers that were not bound to the ipsissima verba of – what else? – the Book of Common Prayer or FTM, any other kind of form.

    2. The Regulative Principle of Worship, i.e. whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden in worship, if not that chanting is indifferent/a circumstance that is common to human actions and societies, if not agreeable to the light of nature and rules of Christian prudence.

    3. The historical context of the Assembly as the culmination of Puritan/Anglican conflict in both England and Scotland in the Second Reformation, regardless that many of them were ministers in the English church and concurred with its doctrine, but not its worship and government.

    4. Examples from reformed expositors that agree with the collapse of the distinctions between song and prayer in that both are chanted.

    5. Instances where the Assembly and the churches which followed the West. Stands. exercised the lawful option – if that is what it is – of chanting, as well that it might seem to collapse the distinctions the Assembly at least drew between singing psalms and extemporaneous prayer.

    6. The historic view of the Christian church that, as Calvin said, nowhere else are we taught how to both pray and praise God; moreover that the psalms are religious lyrics or poetry meant to be sung, as their titles more than amply state, psalms/mizmor, hymns/tehillim and songs/shir.

  166. bsuden said,

    May 9, 2011 at 12:30 am

    FWIW

    As for public prayers, there are two kinds. The ones with the word alone: the others with singing. And this is not something invented a little time ago. For from the first origin of the Church, this has been so, as appears from the histories. And even St. Paul speaks not only of praying by mouth: but also of singing.

    Calvin from The Preface to the Geneva Psalter 1565

    . . . . And it hath been delivered unto the Church of God, by his wisdom and goodness in musical or singing meter, or make it relish the better, and the fitter for memory and daily practise. The Hebrews call this Book Tehillim, or shorter Tillim, i.e. songs, or singings of praise, that being the main matter and substance of a great many of the Psalms therein contained. The Greek translators called them by the word Psalms or Psalter, which term is likewise kept in the Greek New Testament, and hath been continued the usual title of the Book, both among the Latines, and other Christian Nations, in their vulgar Idioms; although the Greek word do properly imply and signify such a kind of songs, as are fitted and accommodated to be sung to musical instruments, plaid on, or touched with the hand, after the manner used in the public service of the Tabernacle, and Temple, in the Old Testament. They are commonly called, The Psalms of David, in regard that King David himself, as one endued with singular ability by the Holy Ghost, for the enditing and composing of Psalms, recorded 2 Sam.23.1, 2. Made and composed most of them; the rest being enditing by other Prophets and men of God, as Mose, Asaph, etc. . .

    Preface to the Psalms from the Dutch Annotations 1637 called for by the Synod of Dordt 1618, translated by Theo. Haak in 1657 as called for by 30 Assembly divines in 1646

  167. John Harutunian said,

    May 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Bob (Warning: this is a long one. Also, sorry about the caps: I’m not screaming,
    I just don’t have a bold print option on my keyboard)-

    >FWIW I am very familiar with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. We sang it in the Roman church. Sang, not chanted.

    Bob, as someone who wrote an M.A. thesis/essay on Old Roman Chant, I can assure you that “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” really is a chant. If you look it up in the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal, you’ll see that it is listed as “Plainsong, Mode 1.” Plainsong means chant. Mode 1 refers to the Dorian mode -the first of the ancient church modes in which chants were written (as opposed to the major-minor, tension-resolution oriented key system which took over in the 17th century. [This particular mode corresponds to the white notes from D to D on a piano keyboard.] Another chant is “Creator of the Stars of Night”, listed as “Plainsong, Mode 4.”) Because chants were written in the old church modes, they have a floating quality, rather than a directional, goal-oriented quality.
    Now: I don’t know how you performed it in the Roman church (I wasn’t there at the time!). But if you really “sang” it as a hymn as opposed to a chant, this means that you imposed on it a regular pattern of accents. In other words, you made it sound: o COME, o COME eMANNuel, and RANsom CAPtive ISrael, that MOURNS in LONEly Exile HERE, etc. (Similarly, you’d sing ONward, CHRIStian SOLdiers, MARching AS to WAR…though the accented pattern here would probably be stronger). And if you performed it accompanied with harmony, this also represented a change moving in the direction of hymn singing: because chants were originally written as simple unison melodies.
    In other words, you turned it into something it’s not. Which of course can be done. Conversely, if “Holy, Holy Holy” were sung without harmony, and without accents, it would suggest chant. (Which could also be done, for special effect.)

    >what the Assembly actually proposed, extemporaneous premeditated prayers that were not bound to the ipsissima verba of – what else? – the Book of Common Prayer or FTM, any other kind of form.

    But in the Directory of Public Worship, the Public Prayer Before the Sermon appears in quotation marks -and it’s 11 paragraphs long! You’re right in that it’s prefaced by the injunction to pray “to this effect”, so yes, the minister wasn’t bound to the exact words. But it’s not extemporaneous in the sense of uttered on the spur of the moment.
    Further, if you check the Confession of Sin in the Anglican Prayer Book, you’ll find that much of its content is similar to what you see in the Directory of Public Worship (it reads, “We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed against thy divine Majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us…”) Of course, the emphasis on human sinfulness in the Directory is even stronger. But the overall thrusts and emphases of prayer in general are similar in both cases. With this kind of similarity I’d assume that if the prayers of the Prayer Book were sometimes chanted, those commended by the DOP would also be -barring a statement to the contrary. I don’t claim that this is proof. But I do think that the burden of proof lies with you.

    >2. The Regulative Principle of Worship, i.e. whatsoever is not commanded is forbidden in worship, if not that chanting is indifferent

    Yes, barring statements to the contrary I’d say that chanting was indifferent to the framers of the Directory of Public Worship. Especially since the Directory was detailed in other respects: worshipers were forbidden to greet each other after the service had begun, to read anything other than what the minister was reading at the moment, and from “gazing”.

    >4. Examples from reformed expositors that agree with the collapse of the distinctions between song and prayer in that both are chanted.

    To quote two Reformed sources:
    a.”The importance of this relation between song and prayer for the present discussion is significant, because this consideration causes a general problem with exclusive psalmody to be more acute. Generally, it is already problematic that exclusive psalmody argues that the words of songs of praise must be inspired, and restricted to the canonical psalter, while the words of the other elements of worship are not so restricted (ministers can speak to us, on behalf of God, in uninspired words, but we may only speak to God in inspired words). But this is even more acute a difficulty when two elements in scripture that are so similar (prayer and praise) are considered to be regulated differently. What is it in the nature of songs of praise or thanks that requires that our words be restricted to canonical psalms, while spoken prayers of praise or thanks need not be so restricted? Would it be lawful, for instance, for a minister to pray (not sing, but speak): “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty; early in the morning our songs shall rise to thee,” but not be lawful for the same words to be sung to a melody? Could we lawfully pray the words “I greet thee, who my sure Redeemer art,” but not pray the same words melodically? An affirmative answer to such questions demands some biblical explanation, especially since GOD IN HIS WORD (Ps. 42:8, Ps. 102, 142 and Acts 16:25, cited above),HAS VIRTUALLY EQUATED SONG AND PRAYER(my emphasis) (David Gordon, “Some Thoughts on Exclusive Psalmody”)
    b.”Moreover in Col. 3:16 there is a presumption against the exclusion of New Testament songs from the songs there mentioned. Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs….” To the Colossians, who had lately been brought from darkness into light through the gospel message, the phrase “the word of Christ” would probably mean the gospel message about Christ. And, as the word of Christ dwells in them richly, psalms, hymns and spiritual songs will flow forth in consequence; these songs will reflect the content of the word of Christ; and by means of these songs believers are urged to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. Thus at least some of these songs would be newly composed, either extemporaneously or as the result of some thought. It is well to consider in this connection that music in the time of the early church was rudimentary in comparison with the highly developed music of modern times. AUTHORITIES SEEM TO BE IN GENERAL AGREEMENT THAT EARLY CHRISTIAN MUSIC WAS WITHOUT HARMONY OR ELABORATE MELODY, AND CONSISTED MAINLY IN CHANTING. “The old Hebrew music was played thoroughly in unison…. In the place of harmony, rhythm plays a leading part, even at the expense of melody…. The singing was mainly a sort of rhythmic declamation” (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, article “Sacred Music”). While the writer quoted speaks of the music of the Old Testament, it may be inferred that vocal music had changed little by New Testament times. The early Christians, with their background in the synagogue, probably chanted their songs. Moreover the ancient Greeks presumably attained as high a development of music as the Hebrews, but even they adhered to the simplest melodies. Evidence of this is found in the fact that although they had a rude system of writing down music by using the letters of the alphabet to indicate degrees of the scale, between 200 and 500 A.D. this system dropped out of use and was lost; so that even Boethius (480-525), who in many ways was the connecting link between the wisdom of the ancient world and that of the middle ages, knew of no means of writing music (see Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, article, “Notation”). If the Greek notation died out it may be inferred that their music was of so undeveloped and impromptu a nature as not to be worth preserving. The early Christians could not have known this Greek method of notation or they, in a developing and expanding movement, would have preserved it if their music had been elaborate enough to keep. But it was not until about 680 that a new system of notation, by accents, was devised to preserve the melodies of the Christian Church. IN ALL THIS THERE SEEMS A GOOD ARGUMENT THAT THE EARLY CHRISTIANS HAD VERY SIMPLE MUSIC AND PROBABLY CHANTED. AND IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE MODE OF RENDERING THE LYRICS IN THE EARLY CHURCH WAS AS FOLLOWS: “THEY WERE RECITED BY A SINGLE PERSON, WHILE THE CONGREGATION, OR, AS REPRESENTING IT, THE CHOIR, SIMPLY RESPONDED AT THE END OF EACH VERSE WITH A SHORT REFRAIN.” (Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, article, “Hymns, Greek Christian,” by Baumstark). “THE PSALMS WERE CHANTED, ANTIPHONALLY OR AS A SOLO WITH A SHORT CONGREGATIONAL REFRAIN” (idem., article, “Music, Christian,” by Westerby). CHANTING MAY BE DEFINED AS MONOTONIC RECITATION WITH CADENCES, WITH OCCASIONAL RISE OR FALL IN PITCH. SINCE THEIR WAS NO REPETITION OF A SPECIFIC MELODY, THERE WAS NO NEED OR DESIRED FOR RHYMED METRIC STANZAS. INSTEAD, SIMPLE LYRICAL UTTERANCE, FREELY CHANTED, WAS THE CUSTOM OF THE TIME. These circumstances show how relatively simple was the composition of songs at the time of the early Church, and go far to explain how Paul could urge the Colossians to compose songs, either extemporaneously or after some meditation, for the general use of the Christian community. Such songs, flowing forth out of the rich indwelling store of gospel truth, would have that truth as their content. Thus, while the Old Testament Psalms were probably used by the New Testament Church, they were not exclusively used and they were not commanded in the New Testament to be the specific and exclusive manual of praise.”
    “According to the Westminster Standards we may not incorporate into the worship of God any element which is neither expressly set down in Scripture nor by good and necessary consequence to be deduced from Scripture. The New Testament definitely provides for the element of song in public worship in I Cor. 14:15 and 26, and probably also in Acts 4:23-31. However, the content of song is not expressly limited in the New Testament, and accordingly we deduce it from the New Testament by good and necessary consequence.
    In this respect song is like prayer, which although expressly given as a part of worship is not confined in Scripture to a set form of words. Indeed there is a very close connection between song and prayer. In Psalm 72:20, Psalms in the preceding subdivision are characterized as “prayers”: “the prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” Paul and Silas in prison engaged in both song and prayer at the same time, by one act: “praying, they were singing hymns” (Acts 16:25). THERE IS ALSO GOOD REASON TO BELIEVE THAT THE PRAYER OF THE EARLY CHURCH IN ACTS 4:24-31 WAS CHANTED. The majority of the commentators say that the prayer was spoken aloud by Peter alone and silently assented to by the rest. Thus they explain “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord.” To be sure the words “with one accord” may mean no more than they joined silently and unanimously in the prayer. But the words “they lifted up (their) voice” are hard to reconcile with the interpretation that the voice of Peter only was heard. In Acts 14:11 and 22:22 many voices are meant by the words, “lifted up their voices.” If Peter only had spoken, he would presumably have been mentioned as the speaker. The impression given by the Greek is that all joined aloud in the utterance. Perhaps, as has been conjectured, the second Psalm, or the part of it given here, was sung by all; and then Peter alone prayed aloud. But this is contrary to the apparent unity of the whole utterance as a prayer. ELLICOTT SUGGESTS THAT THIS WHOLE PHRASE(“THEY LIFTED UP THEIR VOICE WITH ONE ACCORD”) “SEEMS TO IMPLY AN INTONATION, OR CHANT, DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF COMMON SPEECH. The joint utterance described may be conceived of as the result either (1) of a direct inspiration, suggesting the same words to all who were present; (2) of the people following St. Peter, clause by clause; (3) of the hymn being already familiar to the disciples. On the whole, (2) seems the most probable, the special fitness of the hymn for the occasion being against (3), and (1) involving a miracle of so startling a nature that we can hardly take it for granted without a more definite statement.” In support of Ellicott’s view may be urged the fact already mentioned, that THE EARLY CHRISTIANS MOST PROBABLY CHANTED THEIR SONGS OF PRAISE. THUS ENABLING THEM TO IMPROVISE THEIR SONGS TO SUIT THE OCCASION. TO BE SURE, MUCH OF THE PRAYER IS NOT POETRY; BUT EVEN PROSE MAY BE CHANTED. Moreover it was suggested in the discussion of chanting earlier in this report that songs may have been chanted as a solo with a limited congregational refrain. Thus, if Peter (or another leader of the Church) chanted the words given here, the rest may have joined in by the repetition of certain words according to the probable custom of the synagogue, thus explaining “they lifted up their voice.” (Reports of the Committee on Song in Worship, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, my emphases.)
    Look at the first capitalized sentence in the above quote from the Orthodox Presbyterian Report: AUTHORITIES SEEM TO BE IN GENERAL AGREEMENT THAT EARLY CHRISTIAN MUSIC WAS WITHOUT HARMONY OR ELABORATE MELODI, AND CONSISTED MAINLY IN CHANTING. So: the Biblical terminology, whereby song/speech are often interchangeable categories, makes perfect sense in a chant context . In a way which it doesn’t to us today, since our music is more elaborate.
    Also-“There is not to be found in the Old Testament any explicit command which would require the Israelites to employ the entire Psalter which is now preserved, and only the Psalter, as the exclusive manual of praise in worship. Neither does it appear that the Talmud, which is the main source of information concerning worship during the inter-testamental period, makes any reference to the entire Psalter as the exclusive manual of praise, although it does require the use of certain Psalms on set occasions. Thus after the completion of the canon, or after the Psalter had become fixed as containing the present 150 Psalms, there is no evidence (or at least no remaining evidence) that the entire Psalter was used as the exclusive book of praise in worship. This lack of evidence obtains not only with reference to the inter-testamental period but also to the time of Christ.” (Reports of the Committee on Song in Worship, Orthodox Presbyterian Church)

    >6. The historic view of the Christian church that, as Calvin said, nowhere else are we taught how to both pray and praise God; moreover that the psalms are religious lyrics or poetry meant to be sung, as their titles more than amply state, psalms/mizmor, hymns/tehillim and songs/shir.

    But we’re taught both how to pray and to praise God in the Lord’s prayer (“for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory” is obviously praise whether it’s sung or spoken).

    Thanks for being willing to wade through all of this detail.

  168. bsuden said,

    May 10, 2011 at 12:07 am

    167 John,
    I am not willing at this point.
    Put your master’s thesis up somewhere to download as a pdf, but don’t filibuster the combox.

    Two, besides needing to figure out how to turn on the bold with a caret then a b then a caret and turn it off with an insertion of a slash before the b sandwiched between carets, as before you need to do due diligence re. presbyterianism if your argument is going to be anything but a nonstarter. Or I am going to pay attention.

    So you have Gordon. I have Calvin.

    Three, whatever you say, the Assembly said different re. the distinction between prayer and psalms. Again that is what is really going on here from what I can tell, in regard to chanting. We really want to collapse the distinction between prayer and song. It’s an old tactic. Everybody uses it. The Assembly with good reason didn’t buy it and you still at this point in the conversation have not demonstrated you even know what the position is, even as you disagree with it.

    IOW Christ and the disciples reclined at the Last Supper. Yet neither the Anglicans, Orthodox or Romanists recline at communion.

    Go figure.

    ciao

  169. John Harutunian said,

    May 10, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Bob,

    >So you have Gordon. I have Calvin.

    >We really want to collapse the distinction between prayer and song. It’s an old tactic. Everybody uses it. The Assembly with good reason didn’t buy it

    But Calvin used the “tactic” too! Here are some excepts from his discussion of “Prayer” from the Institutes.

    BOOK III.
    CHAPTER XX
    OF PRAYER–A PERPETUAL EXERCISE OF FAITH.
    THE DAILY BENEFITS DERIVED FROM IT.

    31.” Hence it is perfectly clear that neither words nor singing (if
    used in prayer) are of the least consequence, or avail one iota with
    God, unless they proceed from deep feeling in the heart.”

    32. “It is certain that the use of singing in churches (which I may
    mention in passing) is not only very ancient, but was also used by the
    Apostles, as we may gather from the words of Paul, “I will sing with the
    spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also,” (1 Cor. xiv. 15.)
    In like manner he says to the Colossians, “Teaching and admonishing one
    another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in
    your hearts to the Lord,” (Col. iii. 16.) In the former passage, he
    enjoins us to sing with the voice and the heart; in the latter, he
    commends spiritual Songs, by which the pious mutually edify each other.”

    “We must, however, carefully beware, lest our ears be more
    intent on the music than our minds on the spiritual meaning of the
    words. Augustine confesses (Confess. Lib. x. cap. 33) that the fear of
    this danger sometimes made him wish for the introduction of a practice
    observed by Athanasius, who ordered the reader to use only a gentle
    inflection of the voice, more akin to recitation than singing. But on
    again considering how many advantages were derived from singing, he
    inclined to the other side.[20] If this moderation is used, there cannot
    be a doubt that the practice is most sacred and salutary. On the other
    hand, songs composed merely to tickle and delight the ear are unbecoming
    the majesty of the Church, and cannot but be most displeasing to God.
    33. It is also plain that the public prayers are not to be couched
    in Greek among the Latins, nor in Latin among the French or English, (as
    hitherto has been every where practised,) but in the vulgar tongue, so
    that all present may understand them, since they ought to be used for
    the edification of the whole Church, which cannot be in the least degree
    benefited by a sound not understood.”

    Note that in point 31 Calvin says that singing may be used in prayer. Further, this whole discussion falls under the heading of “prayer.”

    Thanks.

  170. May 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Re: 140
    April 30, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Chris, which are the important works to read concerning

    * The making of the DPW
    * Pro-EP arguments
    * Anti-EP arguments?

    Thanks,

    Jeff,
    I’m sorry I missed this request; bailed on the thread but someone kindly pointed it out to me, so I’ll address best I can.

    On the DfPW, the only modern works I can think of are Scripture and Worship: Biblical Interpretation & The Directory for Public Worship by Richard A. Muller and Rowland S. Ward. The latter half by Ward is on the DfPW.

    The directory is printed alone in Westminster Directory of Public Worship: Discussed by Mark Dever and Sinclair Ferguson, but the information is minimal on the history in the respective introductory essays which focus on preaching.

    More extensive history is given in older works, and I expect any of the good histories on the Assembly would be important to check too.

    For some of the older, see the lecture in A. F. Mitchel’s The Westminster Assembly: its history and standards .
    Google books: http://tinyurl.com/3f6768d

    C. G. McCrie, The public worship of Presbyterian Scotland: historically treated
    Google books: http://books.google.com/books?id=UF5IAAAAYAAJ&pg

    Rev. Thomas Leishman, The Directory for the Public Worship of God with historical introductions & Illustrative Notes; see in The Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland etc. by George W. Sprott and Thomas Leishman (1868). I could not find this online, but it would be an important one, though the author’s approach is affected by his involvement in the liturgical renewal of his day.

    There are points to quibble about in all of the above given each author’s peccadilloes.

    The only modern book length treatment I would recommend for EP is Songs of Zion by Mike Bushell; a new edition should be out soon. There are older and shorter works certainly; but that would be the book non EPs should interact with given its statue (5 printings?).

    I do not know of anything comparable on the non EP side. Anti EP arguments are made in shorter workss, and these I’m sure could be found online.

    I would love to see some kind of written debate and attempted to put one together once for the PuritanBoard. I could never find an advocate for the non EP side that wanted to put the time into it that I envisioned. That is understandable given all the fervor for the issue is on the EP side given their minority status.

    Someday I would like to arrange a thorough written debate/discussion of EP for the Confessional Presbyterian, but expect I’ll have the same problem. But anyone interested in this idea contact me at my editor’s email!

    Jeff, again sorry I missed this. Please email me if you have any questions on the above as I’m not checking this discussion.

  171. Jeff Cagle said,

    May 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Thanks, and no problem. Your contributions are of the longer-lasting nature.

  172. bsuden said,

    May 12, 2011 at 12:54 am

    170
    Good call, Chris. Forgot about Muller and Ward.

    Would only add H Davies’s Worship of the English Puritans from 1948 to the list, which is the beginning of a whole slew of modern books on worship. He does a pretty good job of comparing lutherans & anglicans to Calvin and the puritans on worship as well as give the backdrop to the West. Assembly’s DPW. He even goes so far as to say the divines, through the influence of the Independents went further than Calvin on some matters.

    169 John, thou are too clever by half.

    Or as O. Scott said, the essence of propaganda is to state the facts, but leave out the salient details.

    IOW for Calvin, singing prayers meant singing psalms. He is not talking about singing the prayer before or after the sermon, nor was that ever the practice in Geneva.
    Again and it’s getting old, this is to play on the ambiguity between prayer in general and prayer specifically as spoken and distinct from that which is sung.

    Thus if Psalms are sung and Psalms are prayers,
    since spoken prayers are prayers, they too may be sung. (Fallacy of the affirmation of the consequent)

    Furthermore, if (spoken) prayers are not restricted to the ipsissima verba of Scripture, so too our (sung) prayers are not restricted to the ipsissima verba. (Fallacy of the ambiguous/undistributed middle term)

    But not only has this been the thrust of yours since #39, it is confusion.

    IOW your quote from the Inst. 3:20:32 conveniently elides the paragraph where Calvin quotes Augustine talking about the attack of Hilary on the custom of “singing hymns from the book of Psalms”.

    But if the suppression of truth leads to expression of error, to return to your assertion re. the Assembly:

    1. The divines did not have to per se forbid chanting (spoken) prayers for the practice to be unacceptable. The RPW is sufficient to that.

    2. Neither did they include it in the DPW, wherein their care was to:

    . . . hold forth such things as are of divine institution in every ordinance; and other things we have endeavoured to set forth according to the rules of Christian prudence, agreeable to the general rules of the word of God.

    3. Neither can it be shown that it ever was their practice.

    Can it be shown that the early church engaged in the practice? Perhaps, depending on how one defines prayer, but for the West. divines, no.

    You of course, are an Anglican and wish to do as Anglicans do. Fine. Just don’t mistake it for presbyterianism, please.

    Thank you.

  173. John Harutunian said,

    May 12, 2011 at 4:31 am

    Bob-

    >IOW for Calvin, singing prayers meant singing psalms.

    Calvin introduces the subject of singing in chapter 20:32. The word Psalm doesn’t appear in that section. You’re reading this it into it. Neither does it appear in section 33, where he criticizes the Roman practice of praying in a foreign language -Greek among the Latins, or Latin among the French or English. You’re implying that Roman Catholics prayed/sang Psalms in Greek among the Latins and in Latin among the French and English -but read the remainder of Scripture in the familiar language? Why would they choose a foreign language only for the Psalms? And if they didn’t -if the whole of Scripture was given in a language foreign to the people- Calvin would have pointed this out as the larger problem. Further, note how Calvin mentions that while “the best prayers are sometimes unspoken, it often happens in practice that, when the feelings of the mind are aroused, unostentatiously the tongue breaks forth into speech [not singing]…” There’s no indication that Calvin has the Psalms in mind, since he says that the _best_ prayers are sometimes unspoken [not unsung].
    Your reference to Augustine’s reference to Hilary’s attack on Psalm singing constitutes one of the two references to “Psalms” under Calvin’s discussion of singing. The other is his preceding quote of Colossians 3:16, where he gives no indication that he understands Paul’s references to hymns and spiritual songs as canonical psalms. And note that immediately following it, he refers to a practice observed by Athanasius,

    >who ordered the reader to use only a _gentle
    inflection of the voice, more akin to recitation than singing_. But on
    again considering how many advantages were derived from singing, [Augustine]
    inclined to the other side.[20] If this moderation is used, there cannot
    be a doubt that the practice is most sacred and salutary.

    Athanasius’ practice sounds like chanting to me. And Calvin not only allows it, but he calls it “sacred”! Again, this shows how fluid was the boundary between speech and song.

    Finally, if Calvin is not talking about

    >prayer specifically as spoken and distinct from that which is sung.

    then why does he start the next section (34) with “Now we must learn not only a more certain way of praying but also the form itself: namely, that which the Heavenly Father has taught us through His beloved Son”? Calvin’s reference to the Lord’s prayer as “a more certain way of praying” makes much better sense when contrasted (as being “more certain”) with prayers of human composure than with the sung Psalms, doesn’t it?

    >1. The [Westminster]divines did not have to per se forbid chanting (spoken) prayers for the practice to be unacceptable. The RPW is sufficient to that.

    Then why did they have to lay down strictures (in the Directory) such as once the service has begun, the people must not “read any thing, except what the minister is then reading” and to abstain “much more from all private whisperings…all gazing, sleeping, and other indecent behavior, which may disturb the minister or people..”? I can’t see why the RPW wouldn’t be sufficient for these things, but would be sufficient to forbid chanting spoken prayers.

    >You of course, are an Anglican and wish to do as Anglicans do.

    OK, guilty as charged :)

    >Just don’t mistake it for presbyterianism, please.

    Bob, I can’t blame you for not wading through my voluminous quotes in #167 (under point 4). But do at least read 1)the eight sentences which I capitalized, and 2) the name of the source for the quotes -it’s the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (Majority Report on the Committee on Song in Worship).
    Thanks.

  174. John Harutunian said,

    May 12, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Bob-

    Correction -my first line should read “Calvin introduces the subject of singing in chapter 20:31″. (Not 32.) Sorry for the confusion. But otherwise, what I wrote still stands. And notice that the chapter is entitled “On speaking and singing in prayer.” Not “spoken prayers and sung prayers.”

  175. bsuden said,

    May 16, 2011 at 12:26 am

    John,
    I see you are up to the same old sophistries in your latest of a few days ago. Evidently ignoring the obvious is what they teach grad students these days.

    Regardless, if you really wish the proverbial last word you need a substantive rebuttal to:

    I. The paragraph you don’t quote from of Calvin”s Inst. 3:20:32 – with good reason – is plainly and explicitly talking about the singing of psalms as per Augustine.

    Much more it is anachronistic to judge Calvin on the Institutes alone. We know what the practice in Geneva was. While the Lord’s Prayer was sung, because it was inspired, Calvin introduced congregational psalmody to the reformed churches, not chanting the prayer before and after the sermon.

    True, Calvin also quotes Augustine alluding to the “custom” introduced by Athanasius of chanting the psalms. “Custom”, not commandment. As in: reclining at the Lord’s Supper, feet washing, kiss of peace, head coverings for women.

    II.
    1. It is not enough that something is not forbidden. According to the RPW it must be commanded contra the anglican view.

    2. Barring command, it must be shown to be indifferent or in agreement with the rule of Christian prudence as set forth in the Assembly’s DPW. But the Assembly didn’t include the chanting the psalms in the uniformity of worship, never mind prayers.

    At best, while chanting of psalms was a custom in the early church, it was not part of the uniformity of worship promoted by the Assembly.

    3. And if chanting spoken prayers was legit for the Assembly, you still have yet to come with even one example from history. Good luck with that.

    III. “The Maj. Report of the OPC Church”?
    That’s hilarious/ a red herring/ clutching at straws. This discussion has been whether or not the West. Assembly countenanced the chanting of prayers, not to mention psalms, because they didn’t specifically forbid the practice. No more. No less.

    That modern American presbyterianism including the OPC has by and large departed from the position of the Assembly is a given/obvious/no brainer. And immaterial.

    Yet we repeat ourselves. Nevertheless, that’s what needs to be done in order to obliterate one’s record and reputation as an anglican obscurantist.

    But whatever.

  176. John Harutunian said,

    May 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Bob-

    >I see you are up to the same old sophistries in your latest of a few days ago.
    Evidently ignoring the obvious is what they teach grad students these days.

    Maybe it is -but since I finished grad school 30 years ago, this doesn’t really apply to me.

    >It is not enough that something is not forbidden. According to the RPW it must be commanded contra the anglican view.

    OK. Where does the New Testament command that non-canonical prayers be spoken, rather than sung as were David’s prayers, the Psalms?

    >And if chanting spoken prayers was legit for the Assembly, you still have yet to come with even one example from history. Good luck with that.

    If you mean an example from history prior to the Westminster Confession: hymns, many of which are sung prayers. (Remember, throughout most of the Middle Ages, “singing” in church meant chanting. The strong beat/weak beat pattern didn’t arise until the 12th century.) And if you mean after the Westminster Confession, the Gloria in excelsis (Glory Be to God on High), which was an old Scottish chant dating from around 1763.

    >We know what the practice in Geneva was. While the Lord’s Prayer was sung, because it was inspired, Calvin introduced congregational psalmody to the reformed churches, not chanting the prayer before and after the sermon.

    Bob, you may be right in what you say here. But what you need to show is that Calvin mandated that the prayer before and the prayer after the sermon -as well as any other non-canonical prayers- had to be spoken; they couldn’t be chanted or sung, despite the long history of chanted prayers in the Christian church.

    >I. The paragraph you don’t quote from of Calvin”s Inst. 3:20:32 – with good reason – is plainly and explicitly talking about the singing of psalms as per Augustine.

    True. The question is: is Psalm-singing the _only_ church singing which the paragraph is referring to? No. Calvin notes that Augustine testifies that the practice of singing in church “was not universal when he states that the church of Milan first began to sing only under Ambrose…Then the remaining Western churches followed Milan.” If the “practice of singing in church” which Calvin and Augustine are referring to was singing only Psalms, then either a) the Psalms weren’t universally used in Christian worship until Ambrose came along the the 4th century, or b) contrary to Hebrew practice, the Psalms were sometimes spoken, not sung -until Ambrose had them sung in Milan (and the remaining die-hard Western churches then followed his practice). I think you’d rule out both of these options.
    So what’s the one remaining option? That what Ambrose introduced at Milan were hymns! Hence, this is what Calvin has had in mind all along -in particular when he refers, in the preceding paragraph, to “the practice of singing in church” which “was in use among the apostles”.
    Do you see the point? Calvin and Augustine are saying that what Ambrose did was only to continue a practice that was in use among the apostles. Which was singing prayers of human composure, or hymns.
    To clinch the point : Bob, if you check out any book on hymnody -even one written by an adherent of Exclusive Psalmody- you’ll find that Ambrose was the first major writer of orthodox hymns.
    Do you see how perfectly the whole picture comes together?

    Also, Calvin added to the original Strasbourg Psalter several more hymns of his own composition in the Geneva version.

    Finally, here’s a quote from Reformed theologian Jonathan Edwards:
    “I am far from thinking that the book of Psalms should be thrown by in our public worship, but that it should always be used in the Christian church until the end of the world: but I know of no obligation we are under to confine ourselves to it. I can find no command or rule of God’s Word, that does any more confine us to the words of Scripture in our singing, that it does in our praying; we speak to God in both. And I can see no words, that we find in the Bible, in speaking to Him by way of praise, in metre, and with music than when we speak to Him in prose, but way of prayer and supplication. And it is really needful that we should have some other songs besides the Psalms of David.”

    And I don’t know of anyone who would consider Jonathan Edwards a sophist. Thanks.

  177. bsuden said,

    May 16, 2011 at 9:53 am

    John,
    Here we go again.
    Athanasius, not Ambrose.
    Custom of chanting.
    In Calvin’s Inst.
    Which you cited.

    This discussion has been whether or not the West. Assembly countenanced the chanting of prayers, not to mention psalms, because they didn’t specifically forbid the practice. No more. No less.

    That’s the status questionis. The answer is …..no.
    Doesn’t make any difference what the ancient church did or even what Calvin did, even if Calvin did what the Assembly did. The Assembly very possibly, if not in fact did otherwise than the ancient church. You no like? Sorry. It’s called history.

    And Edwards did otherwise than the Assembly? So what? My reference to sophistry, indirection and red herrings is toward how you have persistently framed the question and then answered it. It’s either dishonest or immaterial, if not betrays ignorance, negligence or incompetence regarding the Assembly.

    But was the Assembly wrong in what they actually did?
    Ah, but we can’t even figure out what the Assembly actually did and erroneously assert otherwise as we have seen regarding the RPW, the DPW, the Anglican/Puritan conflict or Calvin on the Psalms, never mind his practice – although he was well aware of what the early church did, even according to your take.

    All I have said is that the Assembly didn’t go for what you are advocating – regardless if what you are advocating was the practice of the ancient church or not. I’ll leave it at that.

  178. John Harutunian said,

    May 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Bob-

    You just wrote,

    >“This discussion has been whether or not the West. Assembly countenanced the chanting of prayers, not to mention psalms, because they didn’t specifically forbid the practice. No more. No less. ”
    >That’s the status questionis. The answer is …..no.

    But in post #165 you asked for,

    >Examples from reformed expositors that agree with the collapse of the distinctions between song and prayer in that both are chanted.

    “Reformed expositors.” You didn’t limit it to the Westminster divines. Which is why I’ve continued to bring in things like Calvin (who considered the practice of chant “holy” [Institutes, Book III, ch.20, section 32, last paragraph, penultimate sentence]), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Jonathan Edwards.
    If you choose to interact with my first few points in #176 -1)the absence of any NT indication that all prayers in worship, unlike David’s sung prayers in the Psalms, are now to be spoken 2)the specific “example[s] from history” of chanting non-canonical prayers which I supplied for you, and 3)the need to show that Calvin mandated that non-canonical prayers must be spoken rather than sung- if you’d like to interact with any of these, then we’ll continue the exchange. If not, then, as you suggest, we’ll “leave it at that.”
    Thanks.

  179. bsuden said,

    May 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    John,
    If you could do due diligence to the first 3 points in 165, before we even get to the 4th point about other Reformed expositors that agree with your take, that would be one thing, never mind due diligence regarding the main contention under debate about the Assembly, but since that hasn’t happened, well . . . . connect the dots.

    IOW with all due respect and as a due consequence, my confidence in your ability, never mind your desire to address the real question is nil/null and void.

    Thank you very much.

  180. Roger du Barry said,

    May 17, 2011 at 1:13 am

    John Harutunian, thank you for your responses here. You have addressed in detail an issue that I have been thinking around, and provided excellent answers.

    I have been concerned at the poor content of so many hymns, with their editing out of God’s wrath and judgement, and the sentimental nature of so many of them, even from the 1800s. I have begun insisting upon more Psalm singing, and begun the process of reducing the number of hymns. IMO there are only about 30 hymns that are worth singing. We also sing NT scripture often, such as Magnificat etc.

    I have been wondering about singing non-scripture prayers. You have provided me with a biblical answer to that issue.

  181. John Harutunian said,

    May 17, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Roger, thank you for your appreciative comments. Also: I had assumed that all bloggers on the site were Americans; it’s most gratifying to know that the range of the postings extends to England!
    In my opinion, the 1940 Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA is arguably the finest of all hymnals. Its 1982 remake is also superb; as far as I can tell the major difference is its excision of a few rather sentimental Victorian hymn. (Needless to say, it doesn’t reflect the present theological state of the Episcopal Church here in the US!)
    I’ve also heard excellent comments about a British publication, Songs of Praise.

  182. John Harutunian said,

    May 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

    To all and sundry-

    On the Westminster Confession,I’ve just realized something (I can’t believe I didn’t see this earlier).
    In #127, Jeff notes concerning the Confession’s agreed-upon elements of worship,

    > it makes the most sense to me, if 21.5 were absolutely exhaustive, I would expect >the language “are the parts of worship”, not the text as written: “are all parts of >worship.”

    In view of the previous mention of prayer in 21:3, I’d personally say that I would expect the language to be “are the _remaining_ parts of worship” or “are the _other_ parts of worship”.

    In #128, Bob replies,

    >did you leave out the explanation that the *agreed upon* list of 21:5 – in contrast to >the real list of 21:3-5 inclusive of prayer – was purely a non binding compromise >between those in the Assembly who had differing views on the proof texts and >might have cared to include other elements in their worship?

    Though I’m far from being an EP-er, I think Bob is onto something here. I’d suggest that the Westminster divines were deliberately being all-inclusive (or just plain shrewd, depending on your point of view). As Jeff implies, it would have been very easy for them to insert the definite article when they were listing parts of worship under 21:5. And as Bob would stress, 21:1 does indicate that they held to the Regulative Principle.
    The question is: Does the Regulative Principle imply Exclusive Psalmody? Evidently, some of the divines believed that it did, and some believed that it didn’t. So (ironically): On this point, perhaps in the interest of unity, the Westminster divines -as forceful and uncompromising as they ordinarily were- agreed on a compromise position.
    Any thoughts from anyone on this?

  183. June 15, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I’ve only just noticed this blog.

    It would be rather characteristic for the Divines to have a consensus wording at 21.5. Indeed, that’s the nature of creedal statements intended for wide acceptance.

    In regard to the EP question. The Divines were not all EP. We know they intended a Psalter but they certainly were not united on the precise limits of sung praise. In the Scottish Church immediately after the WCF was adopted in August 1647, the next day in fact, the Assembly took up the matter of ‘the other Scripture songs’. This kind of ES idea – allowing all the songs of Scripture, is consistent with the general practice of the Reformed churches of the 16th/17th centuries, although usually there are only several used.

    Rowland Ward
    Melbourne, Australia

  184. John Harutunian said,

    June 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Rowland-
    Thanks for your erudite observation. What you say about consensus wording and “the nature of creedal statements intended for wide acceptance” make sense to me.
    I still regret the fact that all of the Westminster Divines, brilliant as they were, apparently didn’t recognize a critical point in this whole issue: With regard to any human utterance, the basic, category-determining factor is the object of its address. If the object is the transcendent, holy God rather than a mortal human being, the utterance is, categorically, prayer. (In comparison to this factor, whether or not the words of the utterance have a melody attached is almost trivial.) Given the Reformed emphasis on God’s transcendent “otherness”, I would think that the divines would have been the first to recognize this.
    Explicit Scriptural support for this is found in Psalms 4:1, 17:1, 39:12 and 55:1. In all of these instances, David -as he is singing- articulates the words “Hear (or give ear to) my prayer.” And it’s all summed up in Psalm 72:20, which reads: “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” Obviously, for David, singing and praying were not two separate activities. And neither should they be such for God’s people today.
    Hence the whole case for EP, and even ES, collapses.

  185. greenbaggins said,

    June 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Welcome to my blog, Rev. Ward! It’s good to see you here.

  186. June 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    John, I wouldn’t be quite so confident that the distinction between prayer and and song as elements of worship is invalid. In the OT we find that the song service in the temple is divinely appointed (1 Chron 6:31-48; 25:1-31 cf. 2 Chron 29:25) and in the various subsequent reforms Israel returns to songs of divine prescription. Yet there was freedom in regard to the words of prayer. Song and prayer may overlap in some ways but are still distinct.

    Similarly in the NT singing and praying are recognised as distinct (! Cor 14:15, 26). Quite a good argument can be made that in the NT temple (the gathered people of God) only the songs of divine prescription, which have now come into their own should be used. That doesn’t touch what might be appropriate ‘at home’ as distinct from ‘in the church’ (cf. 1 Cor 11:18-22; 14:19,35). You could eat a meal at home but not in the church; women could speak at home but not in the church.

    A couple of other arguments on the EP side are the very extensive quotations and allusions to the Psalter (40 psalms directly quoted another 70 alluded to) in the NT, as well as quite sophisticated argumentation expected to be conclusive to the readers (eg Heb 1).

    On the other hand Col 1:28 – ‘teaching with all wisdom’ might suggest Col 3:16 could include songs explanatory of Scripture/ Gospel proclamation songs.

    I think EP in practice is good, EP in theory has a fair bit going for it but shouldn’t be laid on the conscience as mandatory.

  187. John Harutunian said,

    June 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Rowland-
    Thank you for your prompt and Biblically knowledgeable reply.
    First, let me address the whole Regulative Principle issue. Regulate: “to govern or direct according to rule.” For example, as an American citizen I am governed by the laws of the U.S. Those laws tell me that I must not steal, vandalize public property, must drive within the speed limit, must pay taxes on time, must obey the police, etc. They do not tell me that I may not a)walk rather than drive to the local supermarket b)wear a hat in the summertime, c)own a bicycle. I may indeed do a,b, and c. Because the U.S. government (at least as I write!) has not laid out a blueprint, or template, according to which I must live. Nevertheless my life is regulated by the aforementioned laws.
    Does the New Testament “regulate” the Church’s worship? Not in the sense of laying out a blueprint for it. If it did, then and only then could one could argue that anything not commanded was thereby forbidden. One problem with this line of thinking is that silent prayer would thereby be forbidden in worship, simply because Scripture nowhere commands it.
    Now to your Scripture references. In the two passages from I Chronicles the appointments which you refer to were not made by God, but by David. This certainly carries weight, but I don’t quite see that a divine command was involved. Secondly, the appointments pertained primarily to specific individuals who had been trained in singing. The only reference to the _content_ of what was sung is found in 25:5, where (according to the New American Standard translation) it was stipulated that “Heman the king’s seer” was to be exalted “according to the words of God.” I frankly find the exaltation of a man in the context of the worship of God to be problematic; you may have an exegetical insight for me here. But even other than that, I don’t see that “according to the words of God” necessarily means that only verbatim Scripture was set to music. A more natural reading would surely be that what was sung had to be “in accordance with” Scripture.
    2 Chronicles 29:25 does indeed involve a divine commandment. But the content of the commandment involves the persons (Levites) and the instruments used (cymbals, harps and lyres), rather than the words sung.
    With respect to I Corinthians 14:15: First, I don’t claim that praying and singing are synonyms, simply because not all singing is prayer (obviously). “I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also.” A couple of observations here. First, insofar as Paul here speaks of singing and praying as being regulated, the emphasis is on similarity rather than difference; they’re both to involve “the mind” and “the spirit.”
    In any case, I can’t see (either here or elsewhere in Scripture) that the two are “distinct” in the sense of being separate from each other so that different manners of regulating are necessary. Indeed, it seems to me that Paul is setting forth a parallelism here: he is referring to the same action, first in a way which focusses on the words (praying), then in a way which focusses on the music (singing). Admittedly, if one’s context is Reformed worship, in which there is a hard line drawn between speech and song, this seems odd. But if one’s context is Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and much Episcopal and Lutheran worship -in which the entire liturgy is chanted or sung- it is a natural reading of the text. More important, in view of David’s five references to his Psalms as “prayers” (see my last post), it would make perfectly good sense to him. (Interesting, isn’t it, that David rarely, if ever, refers to his Psalms as “songs”?)
    The number of New Testament references to the Psalms, which you cite, is indeed impressive (as is the presumed familiarity of the readers of Hebrews 1 with Psalms 2, 45, 97, 102 and 110). I do think that the sheer length of the book of Psalms is one factor here. Also, since the Psalms were regularly sung in worship, and since singing a text makes it stick longer in the memory, the New Testament authors had good reason to believe that their readers (or rather, hearers) would be especially familiar with the Psalms. But of course it’s another thing to claim that nothing was ever sung in worship beside Psalms. Further, at least with some advocates of Exclusive Psalmody, I have seen the implicit claim that God has, in effect, given us two books: 1)the Bible, and 2)its accompanying songbook, known as the Psalter. Obviously, I think there’s a major problem with this concept; God has given us one book, of which the Psalms are a part.
    Finally, I’d draw attention to the emphasis which the New Testament puts on the _name_ of Jesus Christ. His name is seen as inseparable from His saving work (Matthew 1:21); a healing miracle is granted to a lame beggar on the basis of faith in His name (Acts 3:16); and His is the only name through which we are saved (Acts 4:12). So: assuming that one grants that singing is an important element in Christian worship, then, with all deference, I can’t concur that a worship service which excludes singing praise to the name of Jesus Christ is a good thing. It just doesn’t harmonize (no pun intended!) with the tenor of the New Testament.
    (Which of course isn’t saying that God, in His grace, may not honor and accept it nevertheless.)
    Thank you for your open-mindedness on this important issue.

  188. June 17, 2011 at 1:48 am

    You might care to read my chapter in Beeke/Selvaggio (Eds) Sing a New Song (RHB 2010) to see my position.

    The RPW is a non-biblical term to describe a certain position and shouldn’t be defined by general dictionary meaning. The RPW argues that a positive warrant either express or by good and necessary consequence is required for the leading elements of public worship.

    Are you going to set the 1 Chron refs over against 2 Chron 29:25 which is explicit the Levitical singers were of divine appointment while 29:30 indicates they sang the words of David (‘The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me his word was on my tongue’ he claimed) and Asaph the seer. We need to read Scripture together not atomistically in discrete bits.

    1 Chron 25:5 in regard to Hemen: there are a number of possibilities in understanding ‘to lift up the horn’ including ‘to exalt’ and ‘words’ might mean ‘promises’ in this context but we needn’t trouble ourselves for the present purpose.

    Singing and prayer in the congregational context of 1 Cor 14 are communal acts, thus tongues were not to be used but direct singing and praying were appropriate not a song or a prayer that then had to be interpreted.

    If we excludes the ‘titles’ David has a few references to singing songs (eg 28, 40,68),
    but all the Psalms are undoubtedly songs even if they may also be considered prayers because they contain, praise, petition, intercession etc. Ps 72:20 is an interesting marker to the gradual composition of the Psalter, and of course very interesting work is being done on the structure of the psalter showing it is not without significance, see Michael Le Febvre’s chapter in the book mentioned at the beginning of this post.

    In regard to singing of the psalms we have no authoritative info on their use outside the temple for instance in the synagogue. Some writers affirm it but the evidence is not there. (It was of course used among the common people in everyday life and the Hallel at Passover) The Psalter was the hymnbook of the temple and it should be the hymnbook for the spiritual temple. I may not be so strongly opposed to singing orthodox hymns as some, and I hold no brief for exaggerated argument, but it certainly has not been the practice for the larger part of church history, and ‘hymns’ are relatively late. If we have eyes to see surely the Lord Jesus is throughout the Psalter. He is the tuning fork by which we pitch the psalms correctly.

  189. John Harutunian said,

    June 17, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Rowland-

    First, thanks for being willing to continue our dialogue.

    >Are you going to set the 1 Chron refs over against 2 Chron 29:25 which is explicit the Levitical singers were of divine appointment while 29:30 indicates they sang the words of David (‘The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me his word was on my tongue’ he claimed) and Asaph the seer. We need to read Scripture together not atomistically in discrete bits.

    I fully agree with the last sentence. But once again, the actual command to sing the words of David and Asaph was issued by Hezekiah rather than by God. Second, this doesn’t imply exclusive Psalmody; there are churches today (e.g.,in the Orthodox Presbyterian tradition here in America) which do indeed regularly sing Psalms, but sing hymns as well. Finally, the command presumably allows for non-canonical Davidic Psalms. (A helpful, though loose, analogy here might be St. John’s assertion that Jesus did many miracles which aren’t recorded in his Gospel [20:30 and 21:25]; in both instances, there is no implication that what is canonical is therefore exhaustive.)

    >If we excludes the ‘titles’ David has a few references to singing songs (eg 28, 40,68), but all the Psalms are undoubtedly songs even if they may also be considered prayers because they contain, praise, petition, intercession etc.”

    Good point. I would just point out that Psalm 72:20 designates them as prayers in a categorical manner, rather than implying concepts such as “overlap”, or of “points of similarity vs. points of difference [between singing to God and praying to Him]” -as it’s sometimes put. The implication here is that “prayer” is a broader, more overarching category than “song”. (Who knows -David may have written secular songs as well!)
    Here’s a related consideration. No minister in a modern EP congregation would refer his congregation back to the previous Sunday’s sung Psalm by saying, “As we _said_ in our Psalm last Sunday…” But that’s precisely what Scripture does in Matthew 22:43 and Acts 2:25. My point is that it’s in Reformed worship that speaking and singing have become separate elements of worship. Not so in the Bible.
    And here’s an excerpts from an online article by T. David Gordon, “Some Thoughts on Exclusive Psalmody.” My apologies for its length -but I think it’s worth plowing through!

    Psa. 42:8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love; and at night his song (ᾠδὴ) is with me, a prayer (προσευχὴ) to the God of my life.
    “This text is significant in its own right, but especially as regards the relation between “song” and “prayer,” which appears again when the Psalm of Moses (Psalm 90) is entitled by the LXX a προσευχὴ of Moses. This is the lexical ground for Calvin, Bucer, et. al. concluding that the “prayers” of Acts 2:42 include the various devotional aspects of the assembled saints, prayers that are spoken and those that are sung (F. F. Bruce refers to τῇ προσευχῇ at Acts 1:14 and 6:4, and ταῖς προσευχαῖς at 2:42 in this manner, as “the regular worship of the church,” and “the appointed service of prayer,” pp. 152 and 74. The Acts of the Apostles: The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary, 1951). And it is significant because it shows the artificiality of the exclusive psalmist argument that we may pray in words of “human composition,” but we cannot lawfully sing in such words. I would suggest that prayer and song are not as rigidly separated categorically in the scriptures as they are in exclusive psalmody; that they are much more similar (as human addresses to God) than they are dissimilar; which would make it surprising if the one would be governed by a different principle than the other. The preface to Psalm 102 entitles it “A Prayer (προσευχὴ) of One Afflicted,” and the preface to 142 calls it also “A Prayer” (προσευχὴ), indicating again that many of what we call canonical “psalms” are, in fact, prayers. So why can some prayers be human compositions but other prayers require inspiration?”
    “[Michael] Bushell’s argument for exclusive psalmody differs from that of some exclusive psalmists… [H]e argues that exclusive psalmody is a necessary correlate of the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture, and indeed that the entire case for exclusive psalmody rests here: “The assertion of the sufficiency of the psalter is of such strategic importance, in fact, that the whole argument for exclusive psalmody stands or falls with its vindication. It is here, ultimately, that the battle for exclusive psalmody is to won or lost” (pp. 11-12, emphases mine). Bushell’s view of the sufficiency of scripture differs from that of the majority of the Reformed tradition by coming dangerously close to suggesting that the OT scriptures are sufficient without the addition of the NT. Consider this: “The way of salvation finds expression in the psalter in terms every bit as clear and forceful as those in the New Testament” (p. 20, emphases mine). Now, if the way of salvation is “every bit” as clearly and forcefully stated in the psalter as it is in the New Testament, one wonders what need we have for the New Testament. We also wonder why the apostles preached, rather than merely read canonical psalms. Why, for instance, did not Peter at Pentecost merely read a few psalms, and say to those assembled: “That’s as clear and forceful as it gets; I can’t really add anything to it.”? When the Ethiopian eunuch came to Philip, with questions about Isaiah 53, why didn’t Philip simply shrug and say: “I don’t know; that’s as clear and forceful as I could have put it myself”? Why didn’t Jesus Himself bumble through His incarnate life silent as a Tibetan monk, on the theory that everything about redemption was already revealed in the OT canon–“You search the Scriptures because that in them you have eternal life; and, come to think of it, that’s about all I have to say on the matter; they are as ‘clear and forceful’ as it gets.”? I think to raise the question is to answer it: The OT scriptures are not sufficient to reveal to the world God’s accomplishment of redemption in Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Christ; they are not sufficient to reveal to the church its ethic or polity; and they are not sufficient to reveal the Triune God, either ontologically or economically considered. For these reasons, they are also not sufficient to express the worship of saints who are familiar with NT realities. And, if they were sufficient, why wouldn’t the eschatologically-redeemed saints, whose worship is represented to us in John’s Revelation, have employed those psalms? Why do the saints in the consummated state worship via something other than OT psalms, if those psalms are sufficient? ”

    “I suggest that the implied message of the Psalter itself is this: That as God does new works of salvation and deliverance, His people properly respond in praise and thanks to these new works, composing new devotional material to correspond to the new acts of God. That is, when the Israelites return from Babylon, they do not merely sing psalms about the deliverance from Egypt, even though one could certainly see the Exodus as “typical” of that later deliverance. Rather, despite the obvious typology/analogy, they compose new songs to express their gratitude for this specific act of deliverance. Throughout Israel’s history a three-fold pattern is evident: Deed-Prophetic Interpretation-Song. God acts, His prophets interpret those acts, and the people respond with appropriate song. The “cessation” of new psalms in the OT corresponds identically with the cessation of OT revelation itself; that is, when God’s distinctive acts, prophetically interpreted, cease, the composition of new songs also ceases. But any Israelite living in the period between the testaments would almost certainly have expected that the pattern of Deed-Prophetic Interpretation-Song would resume at the next epochal moment in her history.”

    “When Christ entered human history incarnate, when he died and rose for God’s people, one would only expect, from the pattern revealed in the Psalms themselves, that there would be prophetic interpretation of this great act of God, and that there would be songs composed in response to the act. It is for this reason that many of us reject the arguments of exclusive psalmody. We reject them not because they have no plausibility; they have some plausibility. But we believe they come nowhere close to bearing the burden of weight that rightly rests upon them. How can one explain the silence of God’s people, who raised songs of praise, thanks, and lament at every comparatively-inferior moment in the history of redemption, when the supreme moment has arrived? What has held the tongue of the once-composing-and-singing people? What has curbed the devotional composition of a grateful people? The song of Revelation, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…” is precisely what one would expect. And yet, ostensibly, we must await heaven to sing that song. We may sing of the Lamb typologically through canonical psalms, but we may not sing of the Lamb expressly; even though Israel could sing expressly of deliverance from Babylon, and was not restricted to singing of it typologically through Exodus-psalms.
    Every author structures his words in a certain way. Whether in a sonnet-form, or in descriptive narrative of various sorts, authors present their thought in certain structures. These structures inform the reader’s expectations of the author, and this accounts for why we read a book faster in its middle and concluding chapters than we do in the introductory ones; because in the earlier ones we are learning (whether we are self-conscious of it or not) how the author is structuring his thoughts. God is no less an author than human authors; He also structures His thoughts according to patterns that create expectations in us. My suggestion, which I believe concords with the best of the history of the Reformed tradition, is this: That God Himself establishes the pattern of Deed-Prophetic Interpretation-Devotional Response; God creates this expectation in us, by repeating it throughout history. Therefore, exclusive psalmody, which disrupts this pattern at its climactic moment, must offer us more than question-begging, more than mere logical plausibility; it must assume the burden of explaining to God’s people why this pattern has now been discarded at the very moment when shadow gives way to substance. And this, I respectfully submit, it has not done.”

    >I may not be so strongly opposed to singing orthodox hymns as some, and I hold no brief for exaggerated argument, but it certainly has not been the practice for the larger part of church history, and ‘hymns’ are relatively late.

    Rowland, I’m not certain of what you mean by relatively late. But the first orthodox hymns were written by Ambrose in the 4th century, which most Christians (including Reformed) regard as “early church” rather than “early Middle Ages”. (The latter began -at the very earliest- with Augustine.) As you doubtless know, this was the century which also saw the development of the great Nicene and Athanasian creeds.
    Another point, which I’ve never seen made: the EP position assumes that outside of the Psalms, the New Testament Christians spoke, rather than chanted/sang, all of their prayers. I don’t know of any New Testament support for this. And it does shift the burden of proof to the other side, doesn’t it?
    Finally, I have ordered “Sing a New Song” and will read your chapter in it.

    Thanks again, Rowland, for the dialogue.

    John Harutunian
    Newton, Massachusetts

  190. darrelltoddmaurina said,

    June 17, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Dr. Harutunian:

    From your own church website: “Rev. Alexander Blaikie, D.D., a member of the Associate Reformed Synod of New York, came to Boston in May 1846. He helped the small group of Presbyterians to hire a small hall at 26 Washington Street, and they began worshiping. The services kept going and growing, as more and more people wanted a place in Boston to hear some “Scotch preaching.” Psalm-loving Presbyterians could comfort their hearts with “those strains, which once did sweet in Zion glide.”

    http://www.newtonpres.org/history/

    Again from your own church website:
    “Session Members:
    Moderator: Dr. Rob Perkins
    Class of 2011: Geneinde Jones, Kristen Lucken, Trent Staats, Wendy Williams
    Class of 2012: Carmen Aldinger, Michi Sefick, Tom DeVol
    Class of 2013: Frank Tully, Mark Saunders, Ann MacKay, Kelly Beiro”

    http://www.newtonpres.org/elders/

    You obviously disagree with the history of your church on psalmody. I hope you also disageee with the current practice of your church on women’s ordination and PCUSA affiliation.

    I’m well aware that Newton Presbyterian is a conservative church by PCUSA standards, but those standards are getting worse and worse.

    By the way, if your church ever decides to return to its heritage, the ARPs would probably be happy to have you back, as long as those women elders are willing to become women deacons…. ;-)

  191. June 17, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks also for the dialogue. I wasn’t thinking of the 4th century as the early church. And the fact that I heartily agree with the Nicence conclusions doesn’t baptise everything else to that point! Gordon has some useful comment although I suspect I fall between him as Bushell. Let me know what you think of Sing a New Song – the contributions vary of course but overall there is some useful stuff.

    Rowland

  192. John Harutunian said,

    June 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Rowland-
    I will indeed get back to you on “Sing a New Song.” It may take a while, since I leave for New Hampshire this Thursday, to spend 8 weeks as a teller of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles at a Christian camp.

    Darrell-
    Well, I see you’ve been engaged with the Department of Google! Actually, Newton Presbyterian isn’t my church; I do work there as church organist, but my home church is Park Street Church in Boston (a member of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference). Park Street is a fascinating place. Its theological outlook has always been loosely Reformed, but the church used a choir as well as an organ soon after it was founded in 1809. (Which raises an interesting question. There seems no inherent, absolute reason why a church, in theory, can’t be EP and still make use of instruments and a choir -but in the real world I have yet to see this happen!)
    Regarding the “Psalm-loving Presbyterians” who first started Newton Presbyterian back in 1846, this doesn’t necessarily imply _Exclusive_ Psalmody. Again, I think the example of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church today is instructive: they use both Psalms and hymns (despite the efforts of John Murray to keep the latter out of worship). Also, I would guess that 100 years after the death of Isaac Watts, there weren’t too many EP churches left in the Boston area.

    >I hope you also disagree with the current practice of your church on women’s ordination

    You’re right on that one: I do. Unlike Newton Presbyterian, Park Street fully recognizes that Biblically-informed Christians can in good conscience disagree on this issue, just as they can on Baptism.
    At this point, you’re probably wondering what I call myself! I’m a confirmed Episcopalian (Anglican would probably be more accurate), who holds membership in a Congregational church and works in a Presbyterian church.
    And: I don’t believe that any one tradition has all of the truth:)
    Thanks.

  193. darrelltoddmaurina said,

    June 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the note, Dr. Harutunian… FWIW, I’m quite famiiar with Park Street Church and back in the 1980s was on their sermon distribution list. I was a lifelong Congregationalist, and was a 4C member for two decades until earlier this year when I finally joined the then-independent church I have been attending for years here in Missouri, joining shortly before the church joined the Associate Reformed Presbyterians.

    Am I correct that your last name indicates an Armenian ancestry? I sometimes run into Congregationalists who were refugees from the American Board of Commissioners missionary work in Armenia who managed to flee the Turkish genocide, who explain that they were taught the Reformed faith in Armenia by Congregational missionaries and when they came the United States couldn’t figure out why the home church was teaching heresy.

    As for Newton Presbyterian originally being exclusive psalmody — somebody can correct me if I’m wrong about the ARP Synod of New York, under which Newton Presbyterian was organized,. but I believe at that time all of the semi-independent ARP synods were exclusive psalmody, and I believe that continued to be the case for the northern synods for many years even after they became the United Presbyterian Church in North America (UPNA). I’m not that familiar with the UPNA history since the denomination was basically lost to history after the merger with the Northern Presbyterians.

  194. John Harutunian said,

    June 19, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Darrell-
    First, I was frankly amazed to discover that ARP churches were indeed exclusive psalmody -until 1946! As you know, I feel strongly about this issue. But I won’t rehash the arguments here; if my past blogs (and especially their T.David Gordon excerpts) haven’t convinced you, then we’ll just move on to other things.
    You’re right about my Armenian ancestry. My grandfather, who passed away back in 1953, was a congregationalist pastor in Chelsea, MA. But I don’t think his orientation was Reformed. He was, to some extent, identified with the small church in Watertown which I grew up in. Though it has long since become the “Watertown Evangelical Church” it was, up until around 1960, the “United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church of Watertown.” Which of course meant a basically dispensationalist orientation. Which in turn meant the saccharine sentiments of Gospel songs (with rare exceptions like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”). So it was basically at Park Street that I really got to know the transcendence and depth of the great hymns.
    Living in Missouri, you’re doubtless also familiar with Missouri Synod Lutherans. Before taking the position at Newton Pres I served at a LCMS church. It was a great place, with excellent preaching and wonderful people. The only problems were that a)I felt that they had Law and Gospel not only distinct from each other, but practically in opposition with each other, and b)the Pastor micromanaged the music. (I must say, LCMS pastors are pretty autocratic.)

  195. John Harutunian said,

    July 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Hello, Rowland-

    My apologies for the lateness of this response. I received “Sing A New Song” and read your article with interest. I realize that you don’t hold to Exclusive Psalmody (at least not strictly speaking). So I’m not sure if what I’m about to say is directly relevant to you. But, having looked over the volume, here are my comments.
    When all is said and done, I don’t believe that the fundamental starting point of the authors’ position is Scripture. Rather, it’s a concept which they are bringing to Scripture -that of a hard and fast distinction between speech and song. The assumption seems to be that such a hard and fast distinction is somehow inherent in the nature of human utterance. In reality, it is primarily a post-Enlightenment Western phenomenon.
    I see no reason to hold to this concept. Indeed, Michael Bushell himself, in “The Songs of Zion” unwittingly provides evidence against it when he notes that for St. Paul, “singing” probably meant more like what we mean by “chanting” (p. 50) -and of course chant shows that the distinction between the two categories is sometimes fuzzy.
    Secondly, the Psalms, as a corpus, are never referred to as “songs”. At the conclusion of Book 2 there is a reference to the _corpus_ of David’s Psalms as “prayers.” (Not “sung praises”.) And I see nothing in the remaining three books of Psalms which would warrant their insertion into a different category. Hence, the most fundamental category to which the Psalms belong is “prayers.” They are “songs” secondarily. (And, as you probably realize, their ancient designation as “The Book of Praises” is not itself canonical. Psalm 51 is primarily a confession of sin, Psalm 10 primarily an imprecation, Psalm 14 is essentially a lament for human evil, Psalms 12, 13 and 70 are primarily supplication, etc.)
    One major argument advanced is that “singing and praying are not the same thing.” The statement has an appearance of plausibility simply because “praying” is a religious word, and singing isn’t. The argument should be articulated, “Singing to God and praying to God are not the same thing.” Which is of course true if the prayer is spoken rather than sung. Hence the circular nature of the argument becomes apparent.
    Further, it seems fairly plain to me that I Corinthians 14:15 is a parallelism. Indeed, J.V. Fesko notes is the book that in Calvin’s view, Paul was here equating prayer and singing in worship (p. 175). In light of this, one might ask: “What could be more pleasing to God than to offer up to Him the sung prayers which He has given us in His Word?” There is a logic to this -but I’m sure you’ll agree that inasmuch as no church restricts prayers to canonical prayers, it’s an overly linear perspective!
    Finally, there is an argument which carries both historical and theological weight. As far back as we can tell historically, prayers in Christian worship were chanted. We know for a fact that the Psalms were sung/chanted. What New Testament warrant do we have to address a holy and transcendent God in worship in the same way that we would address a fellow human being -plain speech? Is it not more reasonable to address Him in the which we He has set forth in the Psalms -chanting/singing?
    Thanks for your openness on this important issue.

  196. July 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    John,

    I think we’ve covered these matters earlier except the chanting one. I don’t entirely follow what you’re getting at. The psalms themselves give ample evidence of plain speech to God, eg Listen, bow down your ear etc.
    Chanting is a particular cultural form of singing is it not? – ‘the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two pitches called reciting tones’.

    Rowland

  197. John Harutunian said,

    July 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Rowland-

    >Chanting is a particular cultural form of singing is it not?

    Not exactly. The definition which you supplied itself supports my point: “the rhythmic speaking _or_ singing..” In other words, the hard-and-fast dividing line is blurred. (Likewise, the restriction to one or two pitches results in a rather crude, speechlike kind of “melody”.) And, as I understand it, the case for Exclusive Psalmody is dependent on such a hard-and-fast distinction.
    Thanks.

  198. July 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    If we are to take the Psalms as prayers (as indeed they are) then perhaps we can think of them as prayers given for the special use of the congregation thus sung by the congregation, while said prayer is an individual leading the congregation.

  199. bsuden said,

    July 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    John,

    You’d really have more of an audience if you could demonstrate that, as Rowland alluded to, the distinction between speaking and singing – speech and song – does not exist in Scripture (good luck with that). Much more is the fact that no where else are we exhorted, if not commanded, to sing songs/psalms/praise unto the Lord so eloquently as in the Psalms themselves, prayers though they also are in fact.

    Until then what is essentially the trojan horse and paradigm of John Frame in order to subvert the confessional view of worship, however sincere or naive on his part: speaking is singing is teaching is preaching is . . . . standing on your head and picking your nose?, doesn’t carry much weight.

    cordially

  200. John Harutunian said,

    July 5, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Rowland-
    Thanks for the point. There may well have been spoken prayers in New Testament worship. But, since (as Michael Bushell himself points out) “singing” for St. Paul probably meant “chanting”, the line between the two was never drawn in a hard way.
    If this seems overly dogmatic, consider this. What we call “singing” today is characterized by 1)a pattern of strong and weak beats (i.e., meter), and 2)tension and resolution through harmony (by virtue of which we say that a particular song is in a particular “key”). If you check any history of church music, you’ll see that the first was unknown until the 11th century, and the second until the 17th century (16th at the earliest). So what you had in New Testament times was a flow of pitches in free rhythm, with no harmony to supply tension and resolution, and unaccompanied by instruments. This is of course, chant. And it explains the fluidity of NT (and for that matter, OT) usage with respect to speech and song.
    Thank you.

  201. July 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I think you can’t see the wood for the trees. Singing may/should involve teaching (‘teaching and admonishing one another’) but the songs may also include prayers, but in the gathered worship of the people of God you have a distinct teaching ministry, public prayers and congregational singing each of which are significant and serve a common goal.

  202. John Harutunian said,

    July 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Rowland-

    OK. But where does the NT indicate that the public prayers were spoken, rather than sung/chanted as the “prayers of David” had been? Again, I agree with Calvin when he states that in I Corinthians 14:15 Paul equates “prayer” and “singing” in worship (as I mentioned in blog #195, near the end). Apparently Calvin nevertheless felt that exclusive Psalmody -or more accurately- exclusive [sung] canonicity was required in worship. I can’t see how he harmonized this (no pun intended) with his exegesis of I Corinthians 14:15.

  203. July 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    We have nothing very certain as to the method of singing the psalms in the OT temple. But what makes you think the only public prayers in the temple were Psalms.

    Prayer and singing are separated out in 1 Cor 14:15 but are they equated? As I think I said in an earlier post they are treat6ed as they are because both are of a nature thatr to use a language given by the Spirit and then to translate would be contrary to their nature as communal acts.

    Calvin may conceibable been more insightful than either of us!

  204. John Harutunian said,

    July 6, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Rowland-
    I don’t think that the only public prayers in the temple were Psalms. But I would suggest that if _they_ were sung or chanted, then the position that all other public prayers were spoken must carry the burden of proof. I think that this needs to involve more than just a general Hebrew term that could imply either plain speech or song/chant. And I believe that this is where the Biblical terminology is loose. (Do correct me if I’m wrong about this.)
    I’m personally not Reformed -but in view of Calvin’s exegetical gifts, I have no problem with your last sentence! But: it’s Calvin himself who interprets I Corinthians 14:15 as “equating prayer and singing in worship” (see “Sing A New Song”, p. 175, line 6). Unless Fesko is misinterpreting Calvin here.
    Thanks for your continued openness to dialogue.

  205. May 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    [...] Dr. Clark sufficiently in his posts that you will get the gist of Dr. Clark's arguments. Part 1 – I'm Just Wondering Part 2 – Response to Dr. Clark Part 3 – Response to Dr. Clark part 2 Part 4 – Roundup Response [...]


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