Looking For A List Of EP Scripture Proofs

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Rutherglen1794, Jan 29, 2018.

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  1. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Can someone please lay out for me in one place the Scripture texts used to formulate the EP position? Particularly, where it is commanded that the Psalms are to be used in worship.

    I have some understanding of the RPW with regards to EP; but, I have not seen where the command itself is that we are to be keeping.

    I want to learn more about the topic, but all of the resources I have found are longer than I currently have time to read; therefore, I would like to have a list of the related texts to scan through as time permits.

    Thank you very much.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  2. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Short answer: Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16.

    But those aren't immediately obvious without an understanding of the context, for which I'll provide a short answer by Archibald Hall found in "Gospel Worship", though he also was in favor of "scriptural songs" as well. It's also important to have a thorough understanding of the regulative principle. If you don't get that, this probably won't make sense.

    The important thing to note is that all three terms (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) are used directly as descriptions of various types of psalms found in the Book of Psalms, so the connection is immediately apparent. So much so that it seems to me that the burden of proof lies with those desiring to show that they don't refer to the Book of Psalms.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
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  3. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for that. I've only skimmed, will read in full later.

    My understanding is that EP is always talked about as the commandment having come from the OT though.
  4. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Start here:

    Then here (at page 5 in the pdf, p. 253 in the journal)):

    Review: Nick Needham, ‘Westminster and worship: psalms, hymns, and musical instruments,’ In The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century, 2, ed. J. Ligon Duncan (Rossshire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005). 540 pages. ISBN 978-1-857-92878-5. $37.99. Reviewed by Matthew Winzer, Grace Presbyterian Church (Australian Free Church), Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia.

    A good collection of Scripture contexts contained therein.
  5. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    These works should be studied; they are excellent resources on laying out the whole topic.

    The Puritans on Exclusive Psalmody – Edited by C. Matthew McMahon
    This is the first time in church history that you can read the four most comprehensive books on exclusive psalmody written by the Puritans in one handy volume. Compiled in this eBook is a 60% savings than buying each individual volume.

    The True Psalmody – by Various Reformed Ministers
    Do you worship the Living God in a manner He deems acceptable? Or is it according to men’s inventions?

    Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance – by John Cotton (1585-1662)
    There are a handful of puritan works on singing Psalms. This work by John Cotton (a New England Pilgrim) was quoted repeated by individual Puritans in England on this most important subject. It is one of the best treatments of psalmody now in print. For the student of worship this is an important biblical work on the subject of Christ’s worship.

    Singing of Psalms the Duty of Christians – by Thomas Ford (1598–1674)
    All Westminster Puritans believed in Psalm singing, but there are few works by the Westminster Divines written about this subject (other than the Confession and Directory for Public and Private worship). This work is one of the most famous and important. Psalm singing is almost lost today and it is commanded in Scripture.

    Gospel Music: or the Singing of David’s Psalms by Nathaniel Holmes (or Homes) D.D. (1599–1678)
    This wonderful work by Nathaniel Holmes is a beginning or introductory teaching on how to sing praise to God by the Psalms – God’s inspired songbook for the church. A biblical treatment not to be missed!

    A Gospel-Ordinance Concerning the Singing of Scripture Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs – by Cuthbert Sydenham (1622–1654)
    Psalm singing is a Gospel command but many churches don’t practice it. Sydenham explains why this is a command, and how we are to praise God in this central aspect of the Christian life – worshipping God correctly.
  6. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Okay, if books are being brought into this, is there one (1) book that can be considered THE book to get about the Psalms in worship and EP?

    Anyone read the one edited by Joel Beeke?
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  7. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    I haven't read it, but Songs of Zion by Michael Bushell is often cited as the best contemporary book on the subject.
  8. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

  9. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Bushell would interact with the few modern arguments; before that the 'standard' would be The True Psalmody, free online, produced by a joint committee of Reformed and United Presbyterians. It is shorter than Bushell but the newest edition of Bushell spends a lot of time on the RPW (there are 3 or 4 distinctly different editions of Bushell).
  10. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks everyone. I am just starting to work through the reasons why the Psalms are better than, and to be preferred over, hymns for corporate and private worship. I'm hoping to really crystallize my own view here.

    It is going to take me longer to work through the 'command' aspect, as that isn't as readily discernible to my understanding.
  11. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    One difficulty in answering your original question, asking for proof texts for the EP position, is that it implies that there are texts that we can go to that forbid the use of uninspired song. That's a tall order, indeed, and I don't know if you can find definite, explicit proof texts for that.

    Rather, your approach should be to begin with the regulative principle of worship: What God wants us to do in worship, he prescribes for us. We are not to add to it, or take away from it.

    With this perspective in mind, the question is, "What has God required us to sing?" The emphatic answer of the Scriptures is, "The Psalms!" You won't find a command for us to compose uninspired songs and sing them in worship.
  12. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    I just re-read your original post and saw that my comment ignored some important parts of it. Sorry about that.

    After Christ institutes the Lord's Supper (an act of worship), we read "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives" (Matthew 26:30). Note that hymnos is often used to refer to the Psalms

    Gill on Matthew 26:30:
    We read this of Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:25): "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." Here we see the singing of praises being used as a means of grace, alongside prayer. Note: the word for "sang praises" is hymnoun, a variation of hymnos.

    Gill on Acts 16:25:
    Take these alongside Logan's comment on Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3.
  13. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hm okay. Thanks for that.

    For Col 3: Does the word dwelling in us richly make sense if he then means psalms, uninspired hymns, and songs? Or does the indwelling word have to imply that the three are literally the words of Christ?
  14. scottmaciver

    scottmaciver Puritan Board Sophomore

  15. Ben Zartman

    Ben Zartman Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is the nub of the issue, as far as I can make out after following several threads on this topic. Being confessional, the Regulative Principle is a given. The question becomes, then: does "Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" mean three different classes of inspired Psalms, found only in the Book of Psalms; does it mean inspired Psalms from the Psalter and other songs found in Scripture, or does it mean "Inspired Psalms and uninspired hymns and uninspired spiritual songs." If it means the third thing, which seems to be the surface interpretation, then the RPW requires the judicious use of uninspired hymnody.
    There is no reason why if you hold to the third definition you cannot prefer Psalms as more excellent than other songs, that you cannot sing more of them than the other--and it's a shame that Psalms aren't more used in Hymn-singing churches.
    Soooo, this, like head coverings or paedo vs credo baptism, can run into long and contentious threads where the last few diehards on either side minutely hash out whether "psallo" means to pluck strings or not.
    Whichever side you land on ultimately, remember that you are to sing with grace in your heart to the Lord, and for the edification of others.
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  16. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you for your words.
  17. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    One thing that has struck me after several days of looking into some of these things, is that even though I don't currently believe that the Psalter is the only song-book allowed for the Church, I am convinced it ought to be used as such anyway. There seems to be so many positives to singing the Psalter.

    I am thankful to have come across psalm singing, considering I did not grow up with it.
  18. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    One of the most compelling revelations is that found in Psalm 22:22: " I will declare Thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the congregation will I praise (halal) Thee"-

    quoted in Hebrews 2:12, "Saying, 'I will declare Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will sing praise (hymneo) unto Thee.'" The context of both Psalm and epistle is Christ's victory in accomplishing the Father's will, and what He won.

    Christ is among us, speaking and praising, when we gather- his word is the hymn, and we must sing with him, not he with us! The verse in Hebrews is another example of how "hymneos" in the Greek NT is used to refer to the inspired praise of God.
  19. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Mr. Cross,

    One of the difficulties of this question is that there is not a clear, explicit command to sing in worship in the New Testament Scriptures. Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 come close, but they don't specifically say that the command is to be obeyed in worship; it's implied, in my opinion, but it isn't explicit.

    There are four distinct conclusions that people have come to from studying the relevant passages:
    1. Exclusive Psalmody -- This position, in my opinion, does justice to all the passages in question.
    2. Uninspired songs and hymns -- I really don't see where people get the idea that we should sing uninspired songs. The Bible never tells us to sing anything that isn't inspired, but frequently urges us to sing songs that are.
    3. Scripture songs -- This position is better than option 2, but it fraught with the difficulties of both proving that certain passages are songs, and proving that we are commanded to sing those songs.
    4. No singing -- If you want an explicit and indisputable command to sing from the New Testament Scriptures, this is where you'll wind up. This was Zwingli's position. Ken Talbot is the only person I've ever heard embrace this view other than Zwingli.
  20. koenig

    koenig Puritan Board Freshman

    Singing the Songs of Jesus is a book by an author who is EP, though it does not take the strategy of showing that we are commanded to sing only psalms. Its purpose, rather, is to show that the entire psalter is suitable praise for Christians today, and that it is superior at that task. Despite talking very little about EP as a command, it is probably the book that has gotten me the closest to that position by pointing out the benefits of psalmody that you will never have by singing a manmade hymn.
  21. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Much obliged, everyone. I don't have much to add to the discussion, as I don't know very much about this topic.
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