Three Reasons to Consider Singing Psalms in Worship

CM101-2This post is not meant to convince anyone of Exclusive Psalmody, nor to debate the specific applications of the Regulative Principle.  Instead the idea is to suggest three reasons I believe the Psalms should at least be incorporated into the corporate worship of the church, even if not exclusively.  And to ask the question: why would you not want to sing the Psalms together as a church?  Please consider.

1) It is the inspired Word of God

It is a hymn book given by God, blessed by God, and referenced to by the Son of God, inside the Word of God.  No other book of Hymnody or modern praise can claim such characteristics for itself.  Moreover, the author[s] of the book was inspired by the Holy Spirit to compose the words which were placed within; again, that cannot be attributed to any other human author, no matter how good you may think the song is.  This helps to avoid the possibility of false teaching subtly being introduced into our worship of God.

Most will admit that there is no better way to memorize something than by putting it to song, and with the importance of scripture memorization in our life (especially a book so emotional, heartfelt, and applicable to our daily lives as the Psalms are) there is great reason to sing the Psalms together as a corporate body.

The Psalms touch on a wide-range of subjects (i.e. the holiness, wrath, love, justice, omniscience, power, purpose, providence, sovereignty, promises, and faithfulness of God) which really ought to be sung and thought upon corporately.  This makes the Psalms extremely useful in many situations that the church faces: heartbreak, death, illness, praise, joy, gratefulness, worship, prayer, repentance, confession, etc.  And truthfully, what better thing to speak to these things in congregational worship than the Word of God itself?  The works of human authors simply cannot touch it in that regard…

2) It Reminds us of Our Heritage, Links us to the Saints Throughout History, and Ties Together all of Redemptive History Unlike any other Hymn Book

Think about it: if you sing the Psalms in worship, or use them to bring the heart of the congregation together for worship of the Triune God, or in response to the teachings of the Word of God, you are singing the exact same songs as the saints of old.  Many of the saints throughout the redemptive history of the church sang them: David, Solomon, the Prophets, the Apostles….Jesus….

After the Passover/Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26, it says: “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26)  It may very well have been Psalm 22 (but I speculate now).

However the thought should be astounding, and give us at least some reason to consider their singing in the corporate worship of the Church–the same Psalms that our Lord sang!

(And without delving too much into the history of the Psalms, most of the early church sang them, the Reformers, the Puritans (English and American), etc.  Something to think about…)

What’s more, the Psalms have a greater ability to express God’s full purpose in redemptive history, the dealings He has had with his saints throughout history, and they draw together the full scope of the Biblical narrative (in all of its covenant promises, blessings, and curses).  Unfortunately, some hymns–modern ones especially–have begun to drop out terms like Jacob, Israel, Emmanuel, etc. from their lyrics, altogether detaching the New Testament from the Old (purposely or not), and separating the truths expressed in the first 3/4 of our Bible from that of its fulfillment in the New.

3) It is how the Psalms were Meant to be Read (Sung)

I think the Psalms are great for several reasons; I think they are great for preaching, for meditation, and for praying through.  But one thing many do not give much thought to is their original purpose: to be sung.  And not only sung, but sung on the way to, and in, worship!

Someone once told me: perhaps the greatest argument for Psalmody, exclusive or not, is actually singing them together as a church.  I am inclined to agree.  When the issue becomes one of intellectual debate about the Regulative Principle, Reformed tradition, or Pragmatism, the true beauty of singing the Psalms together can often be lost.  It’s the actual sing of them, that convinces many (including my wife, who recently saw the greatest example and argument for it at the funeral of a friend recently) of the need, beauty, and practical reasons for singing the Word of God together as a church.

I hope that this blog entry will not be seen as one for sparking debate, but rather as an encouragement to give it thought, whether you accept or reject the idea in the end.



psalm 5


~ by TSL on December 21, 2013.

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