Why does the PCA read lots of psalms and only sing hymns?

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Theoretical, Oct 5, 2008.

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  1. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    Maybe it's just my limited experience visiting/attending 4 different PCAs, but why do PCA churches seem to never sing psalms but use tons of them for responsive readings and other components of the liturgy.

    Is there any logical reason for this or is it a "we do it because that's how we do it" answer?

    I don't want this turning into an EP debate, just seriously asking why this is such a prominent feature.
  2. Presbyterian Deacon

    Presbyterian Deacon Puritan Board Graduate

    Don't judge the whole on the basis of a few....

    If you came to my church the past couple of weeks, you might conclude that PCA churches have their responsive readings from only the Minor Prophets, and sing both Psalms and hymns.

    A month ago, you might have concluded PCA churches don't do responsive readings and sing only hymns, while the Scripture reading is from the Epistles of Paul.

    I think you'll find, should you continue to attend more PCA churches, or better attend one for several weeks in a row, that the order of worship and material selected for worship in PCA churches varies from church to church, and what is used by pastor/session of one church might be similar or very different from the next PCA church you attend.

    In our church there seems to be great variety in the contents of the order of worship from week to week. So what you would have seen there this morning will most likely not be the same thing you see next week, or next month. :2cents:
  3. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

  4. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If you had been at our church this week, you would have noticed we sang two Psalms. Last week we didn't sing any Psalms. Next week it will be different again.

    Based on my communications with PCA worship leaders (I belong to a large network of them from all over the country), it seems the majority of them choose music either based on a biblical theme, or they choose it based on the passage of Scripture the pastor is preaching that week. Some consciously try to choose from the Psalms, and others choose what works best, whether it's a Psalm or a hymn.

    Just as an aside, I've been spending a lot of time lately looking at old hymns set to more contemporary tunes, and I am both surprised and delighted to find that many of them are metered Psalms or based on Psalms.
  5. SueS

    SueS Puritan Board Freshman


    That's pretty much how we are in our PCA. We sing only hymns at the moment, a practice that our pastor who is originally of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland, considers to be "pathetic". However, I believe steps are currently being taken to begin introducing Psalm singing, which I think is very encouraging. It's an older, pretty much set in its ways, congregation, so it will probably be a rather slow process. As our pastor says, "You eat an elephant one bite at a time". :lol:
  6. bradofshaw

    bradofshaw Puritan Board Freshman

    I read the post wrong. Nothing to see here.
  7. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    The PCA church I was a member of sang Psalms from the psalter along with hymns.
  8. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    My PCA church was a rare exception; it held to exclusive psalmody.
  9. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    :pilgrim: :sing:
  10. brianeschen

    brianeschen Puritan Board Junior

    The church that I attend just started singing Psalms recently. We are recovering from a "seeker sensitive" methodology. It took over six years for the change . . . but it is a blessing to be able to sing the Psalms.

    Just as "love takes time to heal when you're hurting so much:sing:" so too it takes time for congregations to change. Most people in today's churches just do not know what is being missed . . . I know I was this way.
  11. HokieAirman

    HokieAirman Puritan Board Freshman

    My church is making an effort to sing more psalms. Currently, we try to have at least one per Sunday, but the most important thing is that they support the sermon and aren't just 'out there on their own',and of course the hymns must be scriptural. Our church is an exception in the PCA in that most members are postmillenial, so we generally leave out pre-mil hymns like #381 in the red Trinity Hymnal.

    For the past few months, I've been choosing hymns for our services and I've found that while the Trinity hymnal has some excellent hymns, I haven't found a psalm in the accompanying psalter yet that isn't stellar.

    We don't however, have as much responsive reading as others might. We just respond to the catechism question. I'm on a worship committee to try to make our order and content of worship more Biblical, so we'll probably change some things.
  12. HokieAirman

    HokieAirman Puritan Board Freshman

    Hey Brian...looks like we both got in from our run and hit the PB!
  13. brianeschen

    brianeschen Puritan Board Junior

    Ha! I beat you to it Jeremy.
  14. Reepicheep

    Reepicheep Puritan Board Freshman

    We read and sing psalms (not to mention hymns and spiritual songs also)
  15. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    We read Psalms if it is for our Scripture reading or Call to Worship (not responsively). But since we are going through the Bible reading Consecutively 1 chapter in the morning (right now Ruth) and 1 chapter in the evening (right now James) with short exposition, it will be awhile before we get to the Psalms.

    We sing one Psalm, at least, morning and evening. Hoping to increase that. We usually have 3 songs total. The two hymns are usually with the theme of the sermon, the Psalms we sing through consecutively. So we don't leave any out or forsake any.

    I would assume however that in most PCA churches (not represented on the PB) that what you are stating is correct. I've had the same experience. Many/most churches, in my opinion, have neither reading responsively or singing of Psalms.
  16. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    It's a sad and telling fact that pro-hymnody ends up being exclusive hymnody. :um:
  17. ericfromcowtown

    ericfromcowtown Puritan Board Sophomore

    We have responsive reading of Psalms, but not at every service.

    Perhaps 2/3 of the songs we sing are from the hymnal and the remainder would be more contemporary or otherwise not from the hymnal.
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