The Christian Reformed Church holds it as one of its distinctive principles that the psalms are to be used in public worship as the chief manual of praise.
- There is divine authority for this use of the psalms, as shown by 1 Chron. 16:4, 7; II Chron. 29:30; Ps. 105:2; 95:1, 2 and Neh. 12:24.
- Our Lord and his apostles used them to praise God. The “hymn” of Matt. 26:30 and Mark 14;26 refers to Psalms 113 to 118, the great “Hallel” of the Passover celebration.
- The hymns, songs, and psalms of Eph. 15:19 and Col. 3:16 evidently to not refer to N. T. compositions but to the O.T. Psalms which in the Greek version bear the titles given above.
- The psalms meet the great requirements of praise, exalting God in His being and work and continuing confessions of our unworthiness, our faith, our gratitude, our needs. In depth of spirituality the psalms excel the hymns. “In the psalms we hear the abiding, eternal fundamental note of the pious heart resounding.” [G. M. Ophoff, Church Right—ed.]….
—Henry Beets, “Historical and Explanatory Introduction,” in The Psalter, Doctrinal Standards, Liturgy, And Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church in America (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1926).
I’m not going to argue against the use of the “Sams”. I love “Rendez A Dieu Louange et Gloire”. “Ainsi Qu’on oit le Cerf Buire” and “An Wasserflussen Babylon”–to say nothing of a number of wonderful Scottish versions. Would that they were used much, much more in our public worship!
But I also freely confess that I am deeply moved by “Nun Danket Alle Gott” by Martin Rinkart. When you consider that he ministered to a small Saxon town that in the course of his ministry was visited by the armies of Count Wallenstein, Gustavus Adolphus, a few other forces of the Thirty Years’ War, and by a couple visitations of the plague that carried off many, including Rinkart’s own wife and several of his children, you feel petty about all those little things in life that cause you to grouse your way through a day.