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In the post that introduced this series on the Rise and Decline of Exclusive Canonical Psalmody in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches, reference was made to an article which caught my attention many years ago when I first started studying out the issue of exclusive canonical psalmody. That article was entitled, “We Used To Sing Only Psalms---What Happened?”, and in examining that article it was noted that the “We” in the title referred to several different American Reformed and Presbyterian denominations including theRPCNA, CRC, RCA, PCUSA, and OPC and PCA. The significant claim made in that article was that all Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North America, which have roots in continental Europe and the British Isles, sang psalms exclusively in their worship in the past. Of course, the only denomination which continues to remain faithful to the Reformed heritage when it comes to worship is the RPCNA, the rest of the denominations listed, long ago exchanged the praises of Scripture for the words of men. The keen observer will have noticed however, that one denomination, which has roots in the 16thcentury Reformation, the German Reformed Church, has been left out of the article. Some might argue that omission was intentional and the account of it is that the German Reformed were so heavily influenced by the Lutherans when it came to song in worship, that they never really followed the pattern of Geneva. Such an accounting however is surely inaccurate and wrong. The PCA sub-committee on Psalm-singing was able to conclude many years ago that the German Reformed Churches shared the same worship practices as the rest of the 16th century Reformed church as it reported that “the Reformed churches in France, the Netherlands, and Germany, as well as the Presbyterian church in Scotland and later the Puritan churches in America were all exclusively Psalm singing until the beginning of the 19th century.” Obviously what is relevant for our purposes is that the German church is listed here with the rest of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches and the committee report asserts that the German’s along with the rest of the churches committed themselves the practice of Psalm singing until about the early 19th century. In what follows, support for that claim will be provided.
You are right on there BWS!! Psalm singing here in Scotland has declined alongside doctrine and subsequently the church. The simple fact is that hymn singing is to replace Scripture with human effort and human entertainment, - works based worship?
Correspondingly we have watched the society decline into liberalism, during this same period, in so many other ways. For example justice and punishment has declined in the UK to "Justice and appease criminality." Which also relates to the negative and conciliatory style of todays preaching on sin. UnBiblical decline into worldliness.
Many of todays churches are entertainment venues using human style singing of human song - all to the rejection of the Word of God. Thus does the Lord not bless modern churches.
Very helpful and enlightening post! Most do not even consider how church practice has differed from the past and consider it unimportant. But this demonstrates a pattern that will worship in singing leads to apostasy.
My grandfather was a pastor of a German Reformed Church (who studied under Warfield at Princeton) and their denomination during the end of his life turned to apostasy and liberalism (which is the pattern of all churches that decline into will worship) and his entire extended family seceded from it and from all reformed churches and fled for refuge to (get this) fundamentalist (but Arminian and creedless) churches typical of the 20th century. Now the fundamentalist churches have declined into pop culture and have no firm doctrines (except the incomplete listed fundamental ones). The point is that the leaving of exclusive Psalm singing leads to decline in Doctrine and Practice and total apostasy from the Word of God. It replaces God's justice with a false universal love and sentimentalism which is superstitious will-worship of a very different God than what the Bible teaches, and a different gospel (with a false universal love) which opposes God's Justice.