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Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by David Taylor, Feb 10, 2020.
Where in Scripture do we derive to notion of Psalms only?
I don't believe that we do derive EP from scripture, but many here would disagree. There are numerous threads debating the issue and the merits can be weighed accordingly.
I think the question is where do we derive the notion of anything else besides the Psalms? Everyone agrees we ought to sing Psalms, right? So then the question is where in Scripture are we commanded to sing anything else?
A good sermon series on this can be found here (the EP part starts half way down the page): https://www.sermonaudio.com/search....ord=Gospel+Worship&keyworddesc=Gospel+Worship
Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual songs
And that means?
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Eph 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
Col 3:16 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 hearts to the Lord.
Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Colossians teaches us that "psalms, hymns, spiritual songs" are the Word of God that should dwell in us richly in all wisdom.
Word of God = Scripture
Wisdom = All true wisdom comes from God.
Teaching and admonishing one another - Are we supposed to do that with man's word or God's word? God's word.
Not only this psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are often used words in the Psalms themselves to describe types of Psalms.
As for spiritual songs? What makes a song spiritual? Your intent, emotion,etc? No. The Holy Spirit makes a song spiritual. The song must be "of the Spirit".
Finally, I'd listen to the sermon I provided above that specifically addresses this phrase: https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1110191125271
So what about songs made from other places in Scripture?
The only command we're given in regards to singing is referring to the Psalms. For more information about passages in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 I wrote an article about it here: oppuritan.home.blog and I would also highly recommend this thread: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/“psalms”-psalms-hymns-and-spiritual-songs.87141/
And this site: https://kingandkirk.com/kings-songs/exegetical/ephesians-519-colossians-316/
All three are quick reads. We also can't pretend Paul was speaking about 'hymns' the same way we tend to think of them.
As much as I'd love spending my whole day answering your questions , really every question or thing you will bring up here is answered in the sermons I have provided.
I agree with what Pr. Barnes says. This thread will likely take off far more quickly than you can keep up with. Give the messages above a listen.
I implore though that you listen to at least a few of the ones on the nature of worship. Amongst the first ten. So many, many times we talk about the RPW, do's, don't's, but what is really needed is to have a convicting grasp on what worship is about, whom we are worshipping, and how to worship spiritually. We need to worship as those who are gripped by the Triune God, as though we had seen Him and felt the full force of the majesty of the persons. I really wish there was much more discussion and encouragement to this end than just being precise in forms and actions.
But in context of our discussion, I think once you are so gripped, and with a good understanding of the Psalms and faith in Christ to bless the singing by the Spirit to the glory of God, you'll find that the Psalms have not only all you ever need, but all you'd ever want.
Thanks I'll have a look.
On this topic, how do you know what to sing with the Psalms? Where would I find a Psalter that has music with it?
The 1650 psalter app is a good place to start, since it has text and recordings of every psalm.
I don't have a smartphone or tablet (I know, I know...) is there a different way to get this?
Well you can easily look up the 1650 text and if you go to Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church's website, and you can listen to all 150 Psalms sung. That's the church I mentioned earlier.
Here, from the Free Church of Scotland is the Sing Psalms psalter, with the Scottish Psalter of 1650.
But where is the music?
Check out The Book Of Psalms For Worship by Crown & Covenant.
They have quality audio albums to accompany their Psalter.
Unfortunately they don't make a staff edition available.
However, for the Scottish Psalter, you can use any common metre tune for any the psalms. Sing Psalms isn't quite as easy, but still it shouldn't be too hard to set the psalms to well-known hymn tunes.
If you know a tune name, check out the channel of Andrew Remillard on YouTube. Lots of hymn tunes there, and many of them can be used with psalms.
You'll also be able to find helpful recordings on Soundcloud.
No, but their website indicates a liberal use of their Psalter with "Versions of the psalms found in Sing Psalms may be reproduced in any form without express permission of the Psalmody and Praise Committee provided the quotations occur in non-saleable media and provided no more than six psalms are quoted at any time." So, to help my wife, who prefers sheet music, I have imported a midi file into Muse Score (https://musescore.org/en) and transcribed the Psalm. That is the only modern English Psalter, that I am aware of, that doesn't a restrictive copyright (e.g. Crown and Covenant).
Where in Scripture do we derive the notion that we can sing man-made songs?
This was a question my son asked me earlier this evening.
https://www.fpchurch.org.uk/free-presbyterian-bookroom/ sells the Scottish Psalter with 193 tunes in split leaf format - both solfa and staff editions. I think @alexandermsmith could probably give more details on how you can get your hands on one.
This is a good choice for a modern language Psalter that is familiar to hymn-singers as it is set up like a hymnal.
The Psalter: https://www.crownandcovenant.com/The_Book_of_Psalms_for_Worship_s/117.htm
They also make free Psalm recordings available each month which can be a good starting place to follow along: https://www.crownandcovenant.com/Articles.asp?ID=123
This is a good and fair question. But I think when Paul says Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs, he obviously means more than the 150 Psalms. Why else would he make the distinction? And what about songs, if you want to make the inspired argument, that come from other portions of Scripture?
It's quite common in scripture to use three almost synonymous words to convey a single idea, or perhaps three aspects of the same thing (e.g. "forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin"). The book of Psalms contains psalms (e.g. Psalm 8), hymns (e.g. Psalm 116), and songs (e.g. Psalm 45) - there are fine distinctions between these, but to all intents and purposes for the use of the church they are practically synonymous.
That actually doesn't answer the question. If, as you argue, the Psalms contain the three types, that still doesn't get you Psalms exclusively. What about other portions of Scripture? How do we know that Paul was, in fact, referring to Psalms that could be used as Hymns and Spiritual songs? Is that just an inference, which causes issues, or is that known?
The Greek words Paul used which correspond to psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, are inscribed above the Psalms in the Septuagint version that he utilized in his ministry. So the EP argument is not simply "the Greek hymnos can refer to certain psalms", but "the Greek hymnos is the normative way in the edition of Scripture that the apostle himself used to refer to certain psalms".
Now as for your other question, whether "hymns" can also refer to other songs, it of course can, but what matters is if it actually does refer to other things. We need to determine the referent, not simply the sense, as linguists say. If I say, "Mike went to the store", there are 100,000 Mikes in America that I could be speaking about, but I am only actually referring to one of those. By analogy, there are lots of things that can be called hymnos either properly or equivocally; other considerations must be made in determining what is actually referred to. A few relevant considerations are that, firstly, psalmody did not begin with the NT church. The psalter dates to the time of Solomon's temple, its earliest song to Moses, and its final compilation to the era of Ezra the Scribe. So Paul was merely exhorting to the continuance of a 1300 year tradition in the Church. There's not any evidence to my knowledge that any song but those in the psalter formed a regular part of the public worship of God in those days. There's also not good evidence that the early church sung anything else, and as late as the fifth century Jerome wrote that the Christian inhabitants of Palestine sung the Psalms throughout the day amidst their ordinary labors. If Paul was exhorting to any other practice, one might expect some historical evidence of its its use.
The obvious questions for this position (which is standard in EP) are "Which psalter?" and "In what other context than public worship were these psalms transmitted prior to being incorporated into the canonical psalter, given that (as you correctly state) the present psalter dates from some time after the exile?
The first psalm to be written, as you say, was that of Moses (Psalm 90). In what context was it sung prior to the formation of the psalter? Is it plausible that it was never sung in worship prior to the inspired collector adding it to the canonical book? Likewise 2 Samuel 22, which forms the basis for Psalm 18. Was the first time it was sung when it became part of an official written "hymnscroll" in the temple? Would it have been sinful to sing 2 Sam 22 or Ps 90 in worship prior to that time?
And when was that? Did David have a collection of his own psalms? The subscript to Psalm 72 suggests that there was an early collection of the Prayers of David (3-72), but that is certainly not the only pre-existing collection (the Elohistic psalter covers 42-83, bound together by a notable preference for Elohim rather than Yahweh and adding the psalms of Asaph to those of David). The subscript suggest that it was collected after David's death. There is a Korahite collection, as well as the Songs of Ascents, which cover Psalms 120-134. Books 4-5 seem likely to be a later addition, perhaps after the whole present psalter was arranged around a set of distinctly post-exilic themes (see O. Palmer Robertson's The Flow of the Psalms). What is more, there are Davidic psalms included in all the layers of the composition of the final psalter. Where were these psalms being sung, if they were not part of the then-canonical collection?? And where did the non-canonical "Psalm 151" come from, recorded in most copies of the Septuagint and in Hebrew form at Qumran?
At the very least, we have to say that "the Psalter" (as we recognize the term) did not exist in the Solomonic era, though "a psalter" very likely did. That psalter was added to and edited in a variety of ways up to an after the Babylonian exile, including "new songs" that were newly written to address the development of redemptive history and "old psalms" (including some by David) that had not been included in the original version but had carried on being transmitted (most likely by being sung in some worship context).The most obvious explanation is that "exclusive psalmody" was not practiced in the Old Testament until after the return from Babylon, at least not as currently understood. "David's prayers" probably existed as one psalter alongside several others, which may well have included other psalms that were not chosen for inclusion in the final canonical version (just as there were other Davidic psalms not included in "David's prayers").
That doesn't prove that EP is unbiblical or wrong, or that we shouldn't perhaps sing more psalms than we do, but it does highlight the fact that the argument is a whole lot more complicated than "where is Scripture do we derive the notion that we can sing man-made songs?" or "Paul was merely exhorting to the continuance of a 1300 year tradition in the Church."
Another problem I see is that if the Psalter was indeed used exclusively both NT and OT then they would have had specific music. Should that same music not also be mandated? Do we have that music? If not, is not adding different tunes going against the very principles that EP says it upholds?
God's given us the words, not the musical notes.
The command is to sing the psalms, not to sing them to specified tunes.
Dr. Duguid, I always appreciate your contributions to these discussions. They certainly make us think harder about the subject.