Featured Question About Psalms Only

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    So, I was just reading a book on hospitality and the author quoted Tertullian. He in the second century described their church gathering. He said that each person after the meal would be asked to sing a hymn either from the scriptures, or one that they wrote. How does this history work with exclusive psalmnody? Thanks!
  2. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    It is possible that they had not understood that charismatic song (1 Cor. 14) had ceased. As for a hymn from the scriptures, the psalms are technically the only hymns in the Scriptures (i.e., they are the only literature composed for the purpose of singing), but the quotation is not specific enough to determine things one way or another for sure.

    I recommend getting Bushell's Songs of Zion. He deals with the history from an EP perspective. Some older works will do this too, and they will have their own treatments and opinions on how to interpret the surviving historical evidence, but his work is most comprehensive.

    Of course, even where exclusive psalmody has been regained, as in the Reformation era, the church can easily drift away from the practice so so quickly. It would not be surprising if the early church had done the same in some of its sectors (remember that the surviving quotations and writings from ECFs are not necessarily representative of the entire church's views on things). Hence, as with all things in doctrine, worship, and life, we must go to the Scriptures and evaluate the history in terms of its teaching.

    Edit: I don't recall when this "meal" was supposed to take place, but Paul explicitly removes the "meal" that the Corinthians were having around the Lord's Supper to their homes. So if this "meal" that Tertullian describes is in the context of their worship service, then that is another irregularity in what is described.
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  3. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Where in Turretin? If this is referring to Pliny's letter to Trajan, the translation and meaning of it are disputed. Ditto to see Bushell's Songs of Zion. "The fact of the matter is that none of the current interpretations of Pliny's letter requires that we see in it a reference to the singing of uninspired compositions, and there is nothing in the passage to preclude its being seen as a reference to the inspired Psalms."
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  4. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Frank must have been around for a long time! I thought that he only lived in the 17th century. ;)
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    That Presbyopia kicking in. Carry on.
  6. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi Chris. Here is the reference in the book: Tertullian, Apology, ch. 39, vol. 3 of The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, ed. Allan Menzies (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1957), 47.

    By the way, I was really building you up to Les on Sunday. I told him you seem to be very knowledgeable. He was saying that you are sending him some really good stuff to read. Keep up the good work.
  7. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Sophomore

    "The participants, before reclining, taste first of prayer to God. As much is eaten as satisfies the cravings of hunger; as much is drunk as befits the chaste. They say it is enough, as those who remember that even during the night they have to worship God; they talk as those who know that the Lord is one of their auditors. After manual ablution, and the bringing in of lights, each is asked to stand forth and sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing — a proof of the measure of our drinking. As the feast commenced with prayer, so with prayer it is closed."

    From Chapter 39 of Tertullian's Apology.
    Found on this (Roman Catholic) website: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0301.htm
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  8. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Sophomore

    Is this describing a worship service? In the context, it seems like a fellowship meal, or a 2nd-century version of a "praise night" with little triangular sandwiches and juice and cookies.

    That said, I have read that Tertullian was openly sympathetic to the Montanists, so an irregularity in worship, such as some kind of extra-biblical composition being used in worship, would not be completely surprising.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
  9. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    The only thing I know of the context, is that the author of the book describes it as a church gathering.
  10. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Sophomore

    You can read the whole chapter at the link I provided. Tertullian is speaking of a feast, which I would take as distinct from a Lord's Day worship service.
  11. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Are you sure? Here's what it says right before the passage: "As it is an act of religious service, it permits no vileness or immodesty."

    Maybe I'm not comprehending it right though.
  12. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Bushell also handles this passage and raises the Montanism concern in his analysis of it.
  13. Paul.Barth

    Paul.Barth Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with what has been said. Another thing to consider is that the quote seems to pose a problem for other Reformed views than Exclusive Psalmody. It seems to be talking about individuals singing solo rather than congregational singing, which I would think many who are not EP would agree lacks support from Scripture.

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