"The Sands of Time are Sinking" and the Free Church of Scotland

Discussion in 'Church History' started by TheOldCourse, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Freshman

    The thread on the dying words of Puritans brought to mind Anne Ross Cousin's 1854 poem based on Samuel Rutherford's final words which also were turned into the popular hymn "The Sands of Time or Sinking" or "Immanuel's Land." Out of curiosity I did a quick search on the background of the poem and was surprised to see a number of internet sources writing that she authored this poem among others as hymns for use in her minister husband's church services in the Free Church of Scotland.

    Given that the FCoS only began to allow non-inspired hymns to be used in public services in 2010, this surprised me. Cousin authored her poems and hymns well before the declaratory act loosed confessional subscription and the denomination began toying with liberalism en route to the union of 1900. Was the original Free Church not EP in those earlier days or did it change its practice at some point along the way?
     
  2. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior

    I made a comment to my minister once that not everyone who’s name bears the hymn meant it to be a hymn (e.g. Rutherford). There are a couple of songs that bear his name in the red Trinity Hymnal. Rutherford would be appalled to say the least.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  3. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    Some more notable hymnwriters of the Free Church of Scotland include Horatius Bonar, John Brownlie, and Walter Chalmers Smith. While not all intended their use in worship, some were used at some points in some congregations. Supposedly, Bonar for example did. I've found this anecdote on a couple of websites, but I'm not sure how accurate it is: "One time, near the end of his life, he attempted to sing two of his hymns at a worship service and two of his elders promptly walked out!"

    I think in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland there was some limited congregation-by-congregation introduction of hymn sining as well in this general time period. John Patton noted in his auto-biography that his father was an avid supporter of hymns and tried to introduce some into their local RP congregation in Scotland.
     
  4. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for those anecdotes. I'd be interested to know how the change happened, as the Church of Scotland at the time of the Disruption was, to my understanding, still EP itself. Was there a constitutional change on the practice at some point? It seems like the CoS, FCoS and UPCoS all introduced hymnody within a few decades of each other. One hopes that the FCoS today isn't following the same path towards liberalism with its decision in 2010.

    Did the Free Church after the Union of 1900 self-consciously return to EP practice immediately upon its reconstitution?
     
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    The CoS approved the other scripture songs and hymns nearly about the same time, I was thinking mid late 18th century?
     
  6. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  7. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Freshman

    The date I saw was 1861 for the CoS, though as is usually the case the practice had made its way into the church without official sanction beforehand. According to the same source the FCoS followed in 1869, however that motion seems to be to examine the existing collection of hymns in the church indicating that the practice was widespread already. Apart from the Relief Church which adopted hymns in the 18th century it seems that hymnody took hold in Scotland over just a few years in the mid 19th century and, soon thereafter, instrumentation.
     
  8. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    I'm having trouble finding the actual vow, and I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than me will chime in at some point. However, in 1900 I believe the ordination vows began to require limiting the content of sung praise to inspired songs. While this generally has the Psalms in mind, some congregations also used the Paraphrases (included in some editions of the 1650 Psalter) as well, though I'm not sure they were ever officially authorized. The Paraphrases are not nearly as carefully translated as the 1650 Psalter in my view, and they come from a variety of portions of Scripture... everything from Genesis 1 to the Song of Simeon.
     
  9. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Junior

    I heard an act of Assembly quoted at a meeting of our Presbytery on the exclusive use of the Psalms--I think it was when my pastor was installed. I cannot remember if the act was from before 1900 or after. If I'm able to dig it up, I'll post it.
     
  10. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Junior

    I wrote to the clerk of my presbytery (who happens to be a ruling elder in my congregation). He sent me the portion of the minutes I mentioned earlier. It is as follows:

    Reading of the Narrative of the steps leading up to the Call (Act V, Class 2 1932): It is my duty to explain to you, and also to the congregation here present, with reference to that part of the question which will be put to you as to purity of worship as presently practised in this Church, that in 1910 the General Assembly re-affirmed the legislation of the Church as to uniformity in public worship going back to the year 1707 and that in accordance with that legislation, it is the present practice of the Free Church to avoid the use, in public worship, of uninspired materials of praise, as also of instrumental music.​
     
  11. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    I saw a post from Travis Fentiman (perhaps he can chime in) on Facebook saying, if I recall correctly, that the Free Church, had always limited the content of sung praise to being inspired, such as in those minutes there, and then had authorized certain Psalters (some of which were sometimes published with other songs included, such as the paraphrases I mentioned earlier), so some had interpreted this as being open to inspired songs outside of the Psalter.
     
  12. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Junior

    That's very interesting, Jake. It's true, it does not explicitly limit the content to the Psalms. Whether it implies such, I suppose, would be the issue.
     

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