The point is that God has told us to worship him, giving us his Word to direct all our faith and practice. Everything we need is in the Word, including our songs. One fundamental reason—which should delight our hearts and practically grow our faith even as we sing—is that singing the Psalms is an expression of dependence on God as he revealed all we need and an expression of gratitude for not leaving us to our own devices to worship him. We lean on what he has given us, specifically in his Word, even to praise him. That dependence then leads to a host of several other considerations about why Psalm singing is a sweet practice for Christ’s people. Read More»
Harrison Perkins | “The Sweetness of Psalm Singing” | August 5, 2022
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Very helpful. I was not aware that the words hymn and ode, along with psalm, are included in the Septuagint translation of the Psalms, which could account for Paul’s word use in Colossians and Ephesians. I’m finding it all the more difficult to not support the exclusive singing of the Psalms in worship.
Or, perhaps, the exclusive singing of Scripture (inclusive of other passages of Scripture outside the Psalms).
Do the non-psalm parts of scripture set to tunes, i.e. what has historically been called ‘paraphrases’ work here?
In the Free Church of Scotland’s recent psalter ‘Sing Psalms’, they also produced an updated tranche of paraphrases. These are just like the psalter in that the verses are metered and somewhat rhymed. I realise ‘sing-ability’ is quite a subjective thing but I do like some of them.
So a paraphrase is : scripture, being sung- but not a psalm. What do folks think about singing them in worship?
In the 16th and 17th centuries there were orthodox Reformed folk who argued for the singing of the New Testament “canticles” (songs), e.g., the magnificat, the song of Zechariah, the nunc dimittis etc. These canticles were not paraphrases but portions of Scripture regarded as songs, set to meter/music.
I argued for this view in Recovering the Reformed Confession.
Paraphrases are a different thing. They are re-statements of psalms or other passages set to music. They are a sort of halfway house between Scripture and hymns. It is arguable that paraphrases (e.g., Watts’ paraphrases of the Psalms) contributed to the rise of the singing of non-canonical hymns and their eventual dominance in the church.
I notice that Psalm 88 appears to be mising from the list!
1. We’re running a series on Psalm 88 by Robert M. Godfrey as part of Saturday Psalms Series.
2. Where does Harrison give a list? He mentions a few Psalms but only a few.
All the psalters I know turn the psalms into metered versions of the original. I.e. they have a set number of syllables per line and often are usually structured so as to rhyme. That is not what the original psalms were.
Why would the same method applied to a non-psalter passage of scripture rule it out of worship?
I might add too that I have recently discovered a new type of paraphrase /scripture song where the words of scripture are sung -as written-! with no changes to syllables or to the actual words themselves so as to make it rhyme
I think my question is this: If you advocate for singing non-psalter songs in scripture on the basis that we should sing scripture- why would you not sing the rest of scripture if you were able to?
I think that you might be misunderstanding me (or I might be misunderstanding you). I would be happy to see other portions of scripture set to meter.
Have you read Recovering the Reformed Confession?
I have! And yet i can’t remember where you proposed this. My apologies. I clearly didnt read it close enough.
My apologies again
I recommend seeds family worship songs to all who are looking for examples of this genre.