Sing Scripture and Psalms

At the Escondido URC in addition to the the 1959 Psalter-Hymnal we use a collection of songs that includes selections from a recent Psalter published by the Free Church of Scotland, Sing Psalms. We sang a terrific setting of a psalm yesterday so I started looking for it online.

The Free Church has graciously provided electronic versions not only of their psalter but also of a collection of other songs from Scripture set to music, Sing Scripture.

They are available as word documents and as PDFs.

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  1. Dr. Clark, with respect to exclusive psalm singing. I was wondering if you think singing the Doxology and Gloria Patri should be permitted to be sung during the divine service.

  2. Ding, ding!
    Dr. Clark,
    Vermonster wonders why you haven’t gotten the WSCAL Bookstore (vide supra) to get authorization to sell these resources on this side of the pond.

  3. The “songs from Scripture” in ‘Sing Scripture’ are not songs from Scripture but songs made out of Scripture – a very different thing – unless of course one is prepared to believe that when our Lord told Nicodemus that we must be born again and Paul exhorted the Corinthians to be reconciled to God they did so in song.

    The need is for churches to return to the practice of exclusive psalmody in public worship as taught in the Westminster Confession, not to turn further away from it.

    • David,

      Fair enough. They don’t claim that the texts are all songs but they have turned various texts into songs.

      There are, however, almost certainly songs in Scripture outside of the Psalter. The Song of Moses comes to mind. The NT “songs” are debated but if folk would give up non-canonical songs for canonical songs, even if they don’t come from texts that were originally songs, wouldn’t that be an improvement? Scripture is God’s Word, after all. I can’t see how one can argue, from principle, against the singing of God’s Word.

  4. Thanks. It all comes down to a question of divine appointment or divine warrant concerning the elements of public worship. I suggest that it is indisputable that we are commanded by God in the Bible to sing the Psalms in public worship; can it really be said that it is indisputable that we are commanded by God in the Bible to sing other songs contained in Scripture – and even more paraphrases of Scripture – in public worship?

  5. Dr. Clark,

    You may have addressed this elsewhere but other NAPARC churches do not hold to your view on this and allow or even joyously sing stuff not taken directly out of the ESV, NASB, NIV or KJV etc. Do you see this as sinful behavior or just something you see as a personal foible, something to wink at? If it’s the former, why isn’t something being done about it? If it’s the latter, why even bring it up at all? Or am I making a false dichotomy?

    On a slightly related note, how do you feel about singing, in Christian worship, songs written in 6/8 time?

    • Bruce,

      Well, the NAPARC churches all confess what you describe as “your view.” Don’t we all confess WCF 21 and/or HC 96? I didn’t write those documents. I subscribed them as a minister and a member of the Reformed churches. For a variety of historical reasons we find ourselves at a place where the churches have accepted divergence from the original sense of the standards. I’ve offered an explanation for how this came about in Recovering the Reformed Confession.

      It’s not up to me to say what should be done with respect to discipline. My job is to call attention to the discrepancy between modern practice and our confession. My sincere hope and prayer is that people will begin to see the discrepancy between our confession and our practice. I understand that it is uncomfortable but Reformation is painful.

      We didn’t get to this state overnight and we won’t get to where we should overnight. I am always hopeful about the power of the Spirit and the Word.

      I’m not sure if you’re kidding about the time signature but to the best of my understanding tunes and and language are morally indifferent. We could set Scripture to 6/8 time or other time signatures. In our history we’ve chanted Scripture. We’ve recited Scripture and we’ve sung it. WCF 21.7 distinguishes between those things that are essential to worship (Word and prayer) and the circumstances.

  6. Conflict notwithstanding, I am going to have to second David. The reformed thought at the very least, the mere presence of the Psalter in Scripture a command to sing from it. That the other songs in Scripture were not included in that inspired hymnal, was sufficient reason to also leave them out of divine worship.

    I would agree (no conflict there) that singing Scripture is better than singing uninspired hymns, but even better the Scriptural Psalms rather than the prose.

  7. Oh, how excellent! I heard about this project and was contemplating buying a copy. But to have them in .pdf is even better. I’ll take a look before I pass them on but expect I will bung them the way of our leadership responsible for worship and make use of them if I’m asked to pull songs together or preach exhort preach at some point.

    (And this is from a cheerful hymn-singer, no less… But I fully recognise the priority of singing God’s word and seek to influence our people in that direction.)

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