Ken’s Doxology: A Subversion Of The Psalter?

Bishop [Thomas} Ken wrote a number of hymns, and it was always his desire that Christians be allowed to express their praise to God without being limited only to Psalmody and to the Bible canticles. He was one of the first English writers to produce hymns that were not merely versifications of the Psalms.

In 1673 Thomas Ken wrote a book entitled A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College. In one of the editions of the manual, Ken included three of his hymns that he wanted the students to sing each day as part of their devotions. These hymns were called “Morning Hymn,” “Evening Hymn,” and “Midnight Hymn.” Each of these gyms closed with the familiar four lines we now know as the Doxology….

—Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1982), 67. (HT: Mark Smith)

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    • Robert,

      The Scriptures are Trinitarian. I’m suggesting that Scripture is sufficient, that we don’t need uninspired doxologies. There are plenty in Scripture itself. I point out this one because it’s a good example of what happened to our practice. In both the case of Watts’ paraphrases and in this case, uninspired texts were substituted for inspired texts. We should be aware of what happened to our practice and the basis on which the changes were made. We should not assume that what we do now is what we’ve always done or that things could never be other than they are now.

  1. But you argue in Recovering the Reformed Confession that a return to the practice of the early Reformed church is beneficial. The Scottish church used the “conclusions” to the psalms from our very first psalter. The doxology itself is a paraphrase of Scripture, therefore it could be argued, as Bailie does above, that it is simply combining Scripture.

    Like you I firmly support a return to the use of the psalter in all all its richness, although not necessarily the exclusive use. Our Free Church practice now permits other scriptural songs alongside a plurality of psalms, a sort of preferential psalmody position. We are also developing a new set of paraphrases of scriptural passages:

    As always, I enjoy and deeply appreciate your ongoing discussion of worship practices within the Reformed community.

    Every blessing

    Robert M Walker

    • “The public worship of Presbyterian Scotland historically treated.” C G McCrie (Published 1892)

      “The contention of some, that the ” conclusion ” was not employed in divine service earlier than 1595, or at least than 1575,can not now be upheld in view of an explicit reference to Protestant use of doxologies made by Ninian Winzet, the able defender of the old unreformed Church, which has hitherto escaped notice in this connection.

      Among the eighty-three questions touching doctrine, order, and manners published at Antwerp in 1563 by the ex-schoolmaster of Linlithgow, and delivered to John Knox, with a challenge to answer them if he could, one (the 67th) was
      thus drawn up : ” Why do you, Calvinian Preachers, sing with us Catholics at the end of every psalm, Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, &c., seeing that godly form of praise was first ordered to be sung by Pope
      Damasus as a rebuke to heretics ? ” The very construction of such a question, pointing as it does, not to the simple repeating, but to the singing, of doxologies by Scottish Protestants, would seem to indicate that tlhey had association with psalm-singing from the very beginning of the Reformation movement. “.

      1563 is taking this right back to the early days of the Reformation in Scotland

      We also have Neil Livingston, “ The Scottish Metrical Psalter of 1635” (1864); Dissertation 3 is on the “Conclusions”, and they are given in full later in the volume. He also mentions them appearing in the 1595 edition

      • Robert,

        The 1st piece of evidence is direct and inferential at best.

        The second is, to me, more interesting.

        I have been dialoguing with a scholar who argues that the Scots were singing non-canonical songs before Westminster and the the divines changed Scottish practice. This may be. I’m still researching as I have time.

        Knox seems to have been an ardent champion of psalmody and the Francophone congregations in Geneva were not using non-canonical doxologies so I would be a little surprised if the Anglophone congregation was.

        Reformation did not drop out of the sky perfect in every way. The Dutch churches tolerated some things for pragmatic reasons even as they struggled to obtain a more complete Reformation. Even at Dort they conceded “evangelical holy days” (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, & Trinity) which was arguably a mistake.

        Popes & councils do err. That’s why we have implicit faith only in Holy Scripture.

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