Synod 1928’s Grounds For Adding Hymns To The Psalter

The advice of the Committee is that the Synod accede to the overture of Classic Grand Rapids East, that is

a) ‘To amend Article 69 of our Church Order….so that a synodically approved collection of hymns may be added which may be used in our public worship and regular services;

b)’To take the required steps to procure such a collection of hymns which may be used in our divine worship.’

As reasons for this advice the Committee adduces that which Classic Grand Rapids East has submitted to the Synod, and which is re-affirmed by Classis Hackensack.

In addition to the material brought by these Classes your Committee would call the attention of the Synod to the following matters:

1. There is a need for definite action. Our people are using hymns. Our churches in some localities sing hymns in song services held immediately before the public worship. The demand for hymns has gained great momentum. Your committee feels that Synod should exercised a guiding hand before this demand can no longer be controlled…..

…Not to encourage hymns would cause increasing discontent among our people.

—Acta der Synode 1928 van Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerk, 11–29 Juni, 1928, Holland, Michigan. Artikel 57.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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16 comments

  1. I have seen what hymnals and hymns the women pick – full of sentiment and emotion but bereft of God-honoring truth. No male oversight is a terrible thing to behold. Hymns should never be added to the Psalter. Hymns do not belong in the worship service proper. I understand that I have made controversial and sweeping remarks – so be it. I have grown weary of the level of irrational sentiment that pervades our church gatherings. We must be wary of elders not willing to maintain oversight via the Regulative Principle.

  2. You’re on point Richard.

    I have observed something very similar. Most of our dear sisters love hymns and contemporary songs more than singing God’s word.

    …and then you wonder why men have been leaving the church in droves since ‘revival’ times. (Apparently, the Enlightenment and the two World Wars are the only culprits to be blamed…really?)

  3. “To take the requires steps to procure such a collection of gyms which may be used”

    Is this the Dutch Reformed version of muscular Christianity?

  4. Compare Exodus 32. The source of the new worship is from the people just as in Exodus 32. The response of Synod is almost just like Aaron’s, except Synod could just borrow the counterfeits from the Presbyterians, they didn’t have to put pen to paper and then say those songs just appeared.

    Where is the appeal to the Reformed Confessions? Where is the appeal to Scripture for the practice? It’s what the people want, so Synod says, better give them what they want. At least they left out the lie that singing man made counterfeit psalms is actually based on the command of Scripture, or did that come after the ellipsis?

    Care to compare the act of Synod that allowed the ordination of women – I wonder how that reads in comparison.

    Ordaining women, intolerable, overthrowing the scripture commanded worship of God, well, we just need to provide a guiding hand.

    • Andrew,

      We should note that the committee does refer to classical overtures which had other grounds and arguments. I suspect that material is in Dutch. I agree that the language used by the committee is quite striking, however, which is why it’s posted here.

  5. Your horse has been out of the barn for four-score and five years. For those of us in more pietistic streams, it has been out for centuries. It seems that we’re reduced to exposing the short-comings of lyrics song by song.

    (I’d love to see a website where one could post lyrics and have the critique crowd-sourced.)

    RPCNA, please plant a church near me!

  6. Ed, you mean “near me”.

    Bob, if you’re near Seattle, there’s a great Psalm-singing only RPCNA here.

  7. I grew up on Lutheran hymns (the next “best thing” to Psalms) and had no problem going directly into exclusive Psalmody once I got it. And I don’t like to sing generally but now I have to, nay I want to, because what a great way to learn God’s word.

  8. An interesting piece of history for sure. I’m not sure what to make of some of my pastor-to-be friends who seem to think that planting a church which practices exclusive psalmody would be a detriment to the establishment of that church (who would come?). And then pastors who take positions at established churches seem to often think that change should occur slowly. I have a hard time telling when there is a need for pastoral patience or, on the other hand, when a pastor is leading his congregation into what he believes to be sin for the sake of their comfort and ultimately their attendance. Also, I do not think only women should be blamed for the church’s inability to separate her worship from mere sentimentality. Many brothers would also participate and defend that cause.

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