God’s Word Is Transcultural

Book of Psalms for WorshipThe Psalms (or any of the rest of God’s Word) are not sung in Reformed worship as often as they once were. In some places neither the Psalms nor any other part of Scripture are sung at all but it is still done and by folks from a variety of cultures. Recently my friend Leon Brown alerted me to the existence of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Selma, AL, a historically African-American congregation where God’s Word is sung in worship, without accompaniment as it was sung in the early church and later in the Reformation and post-Reformation periods by the Reformed. In 1996 the LA Times published an unusually well-researched AP story about the congregation and its practice of worship. If you’re unfamiliar with this aspect of the Reformed tradition, this article is a good place to begin.

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  1. There are a few Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland congregations in Zimbabwe, all of which sing only psalms a capella. The African ministers are fully integrated into the ministry of the international Denomination as equal partners. Indeed, in 1989, when the Association of Presbyterian Churches split off, the Moderator of Synod, internationally and in Scotland, happened to be the late Rev. Aaron Ndebele.

  2. Everyone knows that the Psalms cannot express the experience of the contemporary Christian. What would God know of our condition? How could Jesus possibly know? Why would we expect that He would be capable of supplying his people with 150 songs that both worship Him and express our own experience in coming to Him through His Son Jesus Christ, and how we are to trust Him and live in Him. Plus it’s important that we sing about Jesus in worship of God, and everyone knows the Psalms with only a couple of exception have nothing really to say about Christ.

    The mainstream of American reformed churches has substituted their own songs for His Psalms for the last 250 years, and nothing bad has happened. Those churches are bigger, stronger and more faithful than ever — oh wait.

    No, any decline is just due to time and chance (Eccl 9:11) there is no way that any collective trouble in our churches could be because Jesus is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him. (cf Ex 20:5) or having worshiped the creature rather than the Creator, there is no way he has turned anyone over to unnatural affections (cf Rom 1 & the PCUSA and sodomy)

  3. My Church accidentally sang a capella due to ‘technical problems’ this past Lord’s Day. I must tell you, the singing was not only beautiful but much better! Many were ‘surprised’, but they went back to the keyboard in the evening service anyway…

    • Kepha, are you trying to suggest that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 are in the Bible and that the Bible is authoritative?
      I’m not an Anglican, but the book of Common Prayer demands the singing of at least one psalm per service, and in a better translation than is provided in Metrical Psalms.

  4. I recently began attending a local Reformed Presbyterian church here in Seattle and it is exclusive psalmody a cappella (I normally don’t like to sing because I really dislike my voice). It’s wonderful and I hope to join and never leave this church. Just need to get my wife to agree now.

  5. One or two of our finest preachers this side of the pond are Reformed Presbyterian.

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