DeYoung on Singing Psalms

We are not convinced by the arguments for exclusive psalmody. But in 95% of our churches the problem is not that we are keeping out good non-Psalms. It’s strange, even though we are commanded to sing Psalms and even though Psalms have been at the center of the Church’s singing for centuries, still we easily ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the middle of our Bibles.

Jesus sang the Psalms (Matt. 26:30). The early church sang the Psalms. The Reformers, especially in the tradition of Calvin, loved to sing the Psalms and labored mightily to restore them to the church. The Bay Psalm Book was the first book printed in America. The Psalms— 150 God-breathed songs—have been the staple of Protestant (and especially Reformed) worship 14 for 500 years. And yet how many of our churches sing a Psalm even once a month? There are exceptions, but by and large the evangelical church is bereft of Psalm singing. We might unknowingly stumble into one every now and again through Isaac Watts, but for the most part we don’t think about singing Psalms; we don’t plan to sing Psalms; and we don’t sing Psalms.

Is there a command of Scripture we disobey more frequently, and with so little shame, as the injunction to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)? The exegetical debate is not about whether these three terms refer to something other than biblical psalms, but whether they might all refer to different kinds of biblical psalms. Either way, God wants us to sing psalms.

From “A Brief Theology and Philosophy of Worship,” University Reformed Church.

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