Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What About Singing Psalms?

Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 both mention a direct result of Spirit-filling and letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly: Singing Psalms. Before the late 19th century, most New Testament churches sang psalms, some exclusively. Were they doing something that we are missing?

In worship, we direct our music to God. What does He want to hear from us? He gave us 150 psalms, so obviously psalms. Then in the NT, in the rare texts on music, He first asks for psalms. It isn't an alphabetical order---psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. At the least, it is a prioritization. He most wants psalms. So why have psalms been almost eliminated from churches today? Could it be that we have stopped evaluating our worship from a God-centered perspective? People got tired of singing psalms, too difficult for them to consider and often accompanied by music unappealing to human flesh. Is that a suitable criterium for stopping something God expressly told us He desired from us?

How do people sing from psalms? A few good psalters still exist. They contain all 150 psalms with tunes befitting their inspiration and grandeur. The old Metropolitan Tabernacle hymnbook of Spurgeon in London contained its own psalter. That church still sings those same psalms. The Trinity Hymnbook, Baptist Edition contains its own psalter. You can purchase other psalters which are excellent renditions, versifying (putting into rhyme) every word of the Hebrew Masoretic Old Testament text into English. Often accompanying the psalms are majestic compositions of music that conform to their lofty message.

So if you or your church aren't singing the psalms, then why not?


Anonymous said...

I realize most of the time the NT uses the word Psalms, it is in reference to the book of Psalms - but in Ephesians and Colossians (where we are told to sing Psalms), is the term limited to the book of Psalms or can it also include other Scripture passages set to music?

My church does not sing the book of Psalms - however we do sing some Scripture memory verses - single verses or passages here and there. The only actual Psalms (or even whole chapters of the Bible) I have ever heard sung have been Psalm 23 (in several renditions, only one that had the actual wording of that Psalm) and Psalm 12 (which I sang to a madeup tune to memorize it - still sticks with me). I do like reading the Psalms in Metre - see the link under my name above for a section on my website with that as well as with Isaac Watts Psalms.

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Jerry,

I have a study that answers your questions in the Ecclesiology section at http://sites.google.com/site/thross7. Thanks.