A Response to: “The Israelites Were Not Exclusive Psalmists (Nor Are We)”

Gordon’s position fails to properly relate the historical development of worship, and more specifically of Psalmody, within Israel and on into the New Testament church

We therefore conclude that, although songs other than the canonical Psalms may have been and were sung in Israel, there were no such songs or Psalms sung in the ancient synagogue, and Psalms were sung exclusively in the stated worship of the Temple.[1] One should take care in stating emphatically, “The Israelites were not exclusive Psalmists!”  It seems in their stated temple worship, they were.

 

Introduction. In his article, “The Israelites Were Not Exclusive Psalmists (Nor Are We),” appearing in The Aquila Report. Professor T. David Gordon weighs in against exclusive Psalmody. “I myself not only do not believe in exclusive psalmody, I believe it was an extremely late development in Christianity, and that not even the Old Testament saints were exclusive psalmists. What follows is an abbreviated discussion of the five grounds on which I conclude that even the Israelites were not exclusive psalmists.”[2]

Having been asked by a former student to respond to Dr. Gordon and encouraged to do so by one of my seminary colleagues, I offer the following answers to the five grounds of Professor Gordon’s argument.  Much more detailed argumentation can be found in my recent textbook, Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody.

As I will seek to show, Professor Gordon’s position fails to properly relate the historical development of worship, and more specifically of Psalmody, within Israel and on into the New Testament church.  His position also fails to appreciate the redemptive-historical, prophetic, and eschatological significance of the Psalter quoted so often in the New Testament and interpreted of Christ by the apostles. At base, Dr. Gordon fails to display that the Psalter is inadequate for New Testament praise.

Professor Gordon’s first ‘ground’ is “The Lexical Issue.”  Dr. Gordon argues that the title “The Psalms,” implies the canonical collection of the Book of Psalms found in the Bible.  “For us, ‘psalms’ are always ‘the canonical Psalms.’” As Dr. Gordon goes on to observe, “[T]he term “psalm” (ψαλμὸς) is not restricted in the OT to the collection that we would call the canonical Psalms. Other prayers and praises are referred to by this designation.” To this we readily agree. The reverse is also true.  The Psalms themselves are referred to as songs, hymns, and prayers. The psalm titles indicate this is the case. From the Biblical perspective, Psalms are Biblical songs, hymns, and prayers.

As Dr. Gordon then indicates, the Hebrew Psalter is designated Tehillim, ‘praises.’ And he adds, “The Psalter also employs the term self-referentially in a number of places … ” Psalms 22:3, 40:3, 51:15, 65:1, and 145:21 are mentioned as examples. In the specific context of the Psalter, Tehillim appears to refer to the canonical Psalms as a book of praise. But Dr. Gordon argues that, “Lexically, then, not any of the language employed in the OT suggests what our English ‘The Psalms’ does, to wit: a fixed collection of prayers or praises. It refers much more openly, to lyrical music that may be accompanied with an instrument.”  However, when a title is affixed to a book, that title does in fact refer to the specific content of the book in question, whether the title is “The Psalms,” or “Praises.”  Words have meaning in context. This argument appears to ‘prove’ too much. How so?  Contra Dr. Gordon, the New Testament refers to canonical Psalter as the “book of Psalms” (Luke 20:42; Acts 1:20).

Professor Gordon’s second ‘ground’ is that there are “OT Songs Not in the Psalter.”  Indeed there are. Exodus 15, Deuteronomy 32, 2 Samuel 22, and Habakkuk 3 are examples. Three points are in order. One, the people of Israel often engaged in gatherings celebrating the great and good deeds of God.  Exodus 15 is an example.  These occasional celebrations differed from and were distinct from the stated tabernacle and temple worship of God’s people.  In like manner, although weddings may use elements of worship, the Reformed do not consider these celebrations to be worship services. OT occasional celebrations, like weddings and Fourth of July celebrations, were culturally conditioned (compare Exo. 15:20-21 with Isa. 24:8).  Stated worship in the tabernacle and temple was carefully regulated to pattern heaven above (Exo. 25:9, Heb. 8:5).  The church is the New Testament temple (2 Cor. 6:16, Eph. 2:21-22, 1 Pet. 2:4-5).  New Testament stated worship is to reflect heaven, as did the temple, and not the culture, as did Old Testament culturally conditioned occasional celebrations.  New Testament worship is to connect us to heaven rather than to connect us to the culture around us.

Two, and along this same line, it is unlikely that praise was part of the ancient synagogue services.  The synagogue was the teaching institution in Israel.  Edersheim is emphatic, “There was no service of ‘praise’ in the synagogues.”[3] Musicologists James McKinnon[4] and John Smith[5] concur. The late Psalm scholar, Sigmund Mowinckel, also concurs, “The synagogue service was in ancient times always songless,” and further: “Nor before mediaeval times did synagogal poetry and singing come into existence.”[6] More recently, in his magisterial work, The Christian West and Its Singers, Christopher Page, speaking of the Mishnah, redacted around 200 A.D., says, “there is no mention of synagogue music in that compilation … ”[7] All of this data serves to vindicate Edersheim.  The point is that the element of praise in New Testament worship arises from the temple, not the synagogue.  And again, temple worship was tightly regulated.

Three, under Hezekiah, temple praise was restricted to the Psalter.  “Moreover, King Hezekiah and the officials ordered the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and Asaph the seer” (2 Chron. 29:30). John Kleinig indicates, “If there was no collection of psalms attributed to David and Asaph, this decree would have authorized the preparation of such an edition.  These were thereafter to be used in praise to the Lord as the public burnt offering was presented in the temple.”[8]  Hezekiah regularized Psalmody in temple worship.  It appears, at least at this juncture, in stated temple worship, the Israelites were exclusive Psalmists. Mowinckel, quoted by Bruce Waltke, observes that during the Second Temple period, “there came a time when every psalm used in the temple service had to come from the Psalter.  The Psalter attained such canonical authority and ‘monopoly’ that when a new festival was instituted and there was need for a special psalm for the festal offering, a new psalm would no longer be composed, but one of the psalms from the Psalter was chosen … ”[9]

We therefore conclude that, although songs other than the canonical Psalms may have been and were sung in Israel, there were no such songs or Psalms sung in the ancient synagogue, and Psalms were sung exclusively in the stated worship of the Temple.[10] One should take care in stating emphatically, “The Israelites were not exclusive Psalmists!”  It seems in their stated temple worship, they were.

Professor Gordon’s third ‘ground’ is that the Psalter consists of “Five Collections of Psalms.”  Dr. Gordon begins by stating, “All students of the Psalms now recognize that what we call the Psalter was itself constructed of five collections of psalms that originally existed independently of one another.”  Again, we should be cautious in making such sweeping statements.  Perhaps not all students of the Psalms take the suggested position.  The Psalter consists of several smaller, well-defined collections: the Egyptian Hallel (Psa. 113-118), the Songs of Ascent (Psa. 120-134), and the Great Hallel (Psa. 146-150).  There are also clusters of the Psalms of David, and of Asaph. The existence of these smaller collections within the respective books of the Psalter suggests that the Psalter was not necessarily “constructed of five collections of psalms that originally existed independently of one another.”  Dr. Gordon leaves us with the idea that the Psalter is “essentially an ad hoc collection that had evolved piecemeal … ”[11]

However, as David Mitchell displays in The Message of the Psalter, historically, the earlier understanding was that the Psalter was a purposeful collection “foretelling eschatological events, [and] interpreting them of Messiah … ”[12] There is, in fact, “now” a renewed consensus that the Psalter is a purposeful arrangement of sacred songs.  Mitchell goes on to say, “[I]n the last two decades, some commentators, operating on the hermeneutical basis of redactor intention, have returned to views not dissimilar to the nineteenth-century one. They recognize purposeful redaction in the MT Psalter, with the headings and doxologies as structural markers.”[13]  Mitchell adds this telling statement, “Thus a historical perspective at the end of the twentieth century seems to suggest that western scholarship from c. 1820-1970 is, in some respects, a hiatus in Psalm interpretation, during which scholarly opinion diverged sharply from what must be considered, historically speaking, the dominant views.”[14]

Professor Gordon seems to be caught in this historical hiatus as he argues for five, originally independent books, in the Psalter. As he argues, “Indeed, the second collection suggests that it was/is complete: ‘The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended’ (Ps. 72:20).”  Yes, Psalm 72 does have this subscript.  And yes, there are additional prayers and Psalms of David.[15] Therefore, what does the subscript mean?  We must take statements such as this subscript in context. Psalm 72 is a “Psalm of Solomon.”  Psalm 72 is a prayer for the new king, Solomon, and his righteous reign.  Historically speaking, David’s prayers for the ascension of Solomon to the throne would have ended with Solomon’s coronation.  Therefore, this statement may recognize the redemptive-historical reality built into the Psalter.  Rather than marking the end of an independently constructed book, Psalm 72:20 may be a structural marker linking two larger section of the Psalter. All students of the Psalms do not hold to the view espoused by Dr. Gordon.

For our purposes, as just developed, Professor Gordon’s opposition to exclusive Psalmody, resting on the ‘ground,’ that the books of the Psalter were originally five independently developed collections, is likely not entirely true.  His argument is a non sequitur; as just developed, it does not follow.

Professor Gordon’s fourth ‘ground’ for denying exclusive Psalmody is that “The Psalter itself Grew.”  We agree. As Dr. Gordon observes, “Our present canonical collection of ‘prayers or praises’ developed over time.”  Here, we make two points. One, we observe that worship within Israel also developed and grew over time.  There were certain God ordained transitions and shifts in worship within Israel.  From Abraham to Moses, the people worshiped at various altars in various places.  God commanded Israel, to construct the tabernacle and gave Moses elaborate instructions for building the tabernacle.  Stated worship was then confined to a single altar. In 1 Chronicles 16, we see David add Psalmody and instruments to divine worship. We discover later that this was by divine appointment (2 Chron. 29:25).  When the people entered the Promised Land, God appointed Solomon to build the temple on Zion, the designated mountain (Deut. 12:5 and 11; 2 Chron. 21:8-22:1). The use of musical instruments and Psalmody, in connection with the sacrifices, continued. When Christ went to the cross, as the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, temple worship ceased. There was another God ordained transition and change in worship.

Like it or not, the historic Christian position is that since instrumental music was part of the typological system pointing ahead to Christ and our reception of the Holy Spirit, we no longer use instruments in New Testament worship.  Their introduction was indeed a late innovation. Psalmody continued because it was commanded (Col. 3:16, Heb. 13:15).[16]  As seen above, Israel enjoyed exclusive Psalmody under Hezekiah and during the Second Temple period.  The Psalter may have grown and changed. But this growth is not an argument against its exclusive use in Old Testament tabernacle and temple worship as that worship also developed over time according to God’s commands.

Two, Professor Gordon maintains, “At various critical moments in Israel’s history, laments, thanksgivings, or praises were composed to commemorate, bewail, or celebrate some new work of God’s judgment or deliverance. And indeed, more than one psalm was composed for most such occasions. A number of psalms, for example, recall Israel’s exodus from Egypt (e.g., 22, 44, 80, 83).” So far, so good! But now Dr. Gordon makes a grand assumption.  “During that process of composing psalms, one would have assumed that the process of composing such praises or prayers would continue as long as God continued to judge or deliver” (italics added). However, historically, this does not appear to be the case.  Recall Mowinckel’s studied conclusion that “there came a time when every psalm used in the temple service had to come from the Psalter.  The Psalter attained such canonical authority and ‘monopoly’ that when a new festival was instituted and there was need for a special psalm for the festal offering, a new psalm would no longer be composed, but one of the psalms from the Psalter was chosen and was interpreted in a way which would fit in with the festival.”[17]

It appears that new uninspired psalms were not composed but existing psalms from the Psalter were selected to celebrate ‘new’ acts of redemption and/or judgment.  If the Psalms are prophetic and eschatological, which they are, their application to ‘new’ acts of redemption, as they are revealed, should not be surprising. These applications extend into the New Testament.  The New Testament quotes the Psalter 79 times and alludes to the Psalter 335 times, more than any other Old Testament book.[18] The New Testament writers use the bulk of these quotations and allusions to preach Christ.  Singing the Psalms does not diminish our love for Christ or the church’s commitment to sing about Him and to Him.  Christians continue to use the inspired Psalter to do so.

As the venerable Gerhardus Vos has said with regard to the Psalms, “[A] more perfect language for communion with God cannot be framed.”[19] We do not need ‘new’ songs, by which we mean, different songs.  We may want to sing, “Come, thou long-expected Jesus” and “Jesus lives, and so shall I.”  We may want to use the name ‘Jesus’ and we may consider the Psalter to be completely inadequate.  Since God has revealed Himself anew in Jesus Christ, we may assume that only newly composed songs are adequate for the purpose of praising Christ. But what are ‘new songs’?  Here are lines from Tractate Pesachim giving directions for the Passover as Jesus and His disciples celebrated it. They are quoted by William Lane, “So may the Lord, our God, and the God of our fathers, cause us to enjoy the feasts that come in peace, glad of heart at the up-building of your city and rejoicing in your service … and we will thank you with a new song for our redemption (M. Pesachim X. 4-6).”[20] Lane then goes on to say, “The new song was the first part of the ancient Hallel (Ps. 113-115), after which the second cup of wine was drunk.”[21] To sing a “new song for our redemption” was and is to sing the Psalms.  Our Lord leads us in singing these ‘sew songs,’ the Psalms.

Professor Gordon’s argument that the Psalter grew over time, and as it did so, addressed new acts of redemption and judgment, is true within certain limits as discussed above.  However, the development of the Psalter over time is not a justification to add new and uninspired songs to this body of sacred song.  As already indicated, the historical practice was to use the old songs, Psalms, prophetic and eschatological as they are, and connect them to the new redemptive acts of God with which they are already associated.  Several of these connections are rehearsed below.

Professor Gordon’s fifth ‘ground’ for rejecting exclusive Psalmody is that “The Psalter Commands Praising God for All His Works.” Professor Gordon quotes several Psalms to assure us that the Psalter itself commands us to sing a wider array of songs than those given to us in the Psalter.  He elicits Psalm 105:2 for this purpose, “Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!”   This ‘ground’ boils down to an argument that the psalms are inadequate to fulfill the command to tell of all God’s wondrous works. To respond, we quote from Public Worship 101:

Psalm 105:2, “Speak of all His wonders,” uses a synecdoche (the whole for the part). Calvin interprets the text as using a synecdoche: “He indeed names in general his works, and his wonders, but he limits both to that spiritual covenant by which God made choice of a church, that might lead on earth a heavenly life.”[22] This interpretation is a reasonable and sensible approach to the text. How so? John 21:25 answers, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”  All the deeds of God are not recorded, could not be recorded, and, therefore, cannot be put to song. It should be clear that the Psalmist is using the figure of speech, synecdoche.

Believers do sing of the essential deeds of God in Christ using the Psalms. The Psalms lay the foundation of human depravity (Ps. 5:9; 10:7; 14:1-3; 36:1; 51:4; and 140:3). Psalm 32:1-2 leads God’s people in singing of justification by grace through faith in Christ. Psalm 117 leads believers in singing of the gospel going to the nations. Psalm 2 leads worshipers in singing about the opposition of the nations to Christ and His Kingdom. Psalm 22 leads the church in singing about several aspects of Christ’s crucifixion. Psalm 16 leads believers in singing about His resurrection. Psalm 110 leads believers in singing about Christ’s ascension and heavenly reign. Psalm 68 also leads the church in singing about His ascension. Psalm 118 leads Christians in singing about Christ’s coming, and of His coming again. Psalms 2:7, 45:6-7, 102:25-27, and 110:1 lead us in singing of Christ as our God and Creator. Psalm 40:6-8 leads believers to sing of Christ in His active obedience and in His once for all sacrifice for our sins. The Psalms are sufficient to lead the church in singing in public worship of the essential deeds of God in Christ.[23]

Finally, Professor Gordon states, “New Testament Saints Are Not Exclusive Psalmists.”  Using Mary’s Magnificat and Simeon’s Nunc Dimitis is the first ‘proof.’  However, the texts themselves call neither the Magnificat nor the Nunc Dimitis songs.  Rather, Scripture records what both Mary and Simeon “said” on the respective occasions (Luke 1:46 and 2:28).  Neither does Scripture indicate these words were intended for use in song in the church’s corporate public worship, nor does Scripture indicate that these words were used in the public corporate worship of the church in the New Testament.  The later inclusion of the Magnificat in the Geneva Psalter and in other hymnals has no bearing on an argument that saints in the New Testament were or were not exclusive Psalmists.

Dr. Gordon goes on to say, “If Calvin’s interpretation of Acts 2:42 is correct, the earliest meetings of the apostolic churches included singing of praise that was not restricted to the Old Testament psalms.” I have found no such statements by Calvin in his commentary on Acts 2:42, in his sermon on Acts 2:42, nor in his references to Acts 2:42 in his Institutes.  To the contrary, in his Preface to the Geneva 1543 Psalter, Calvin concludes, “Wherefore, when we have looked thoroughly everywhere and searched high and low, we shall find no better songs nor more appropriate to the purpose than the Psalms of David which the Holy Spirit made and spoke through him.”[24] Here, Calvin follows the principle set down by Augustine that “no one is able to sing things worthy of God unless he has received them from Him.”[25] Therefore, what was one to do? “The solution reached in theory, Calvin proceeds to urge the universal adoption of the psalms to exclusion of all other songs.”[26] Not only so, “Calvin now proposes that even outside the liturgy only psalms be sung.”[27] Contra Dr. Gordon, Calvin’s position seems clear.

Professor Gordon points out that, “Paul’s letters contain both an example of what is likely a Christ-hymn in Philippians 2, and Paul’s instructions about singing in the congregation in texts such as 1 Corinthians 14:26: ‘What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn … ’” What about the so-called Christ-hymn of Philippians 2:6-11? Gordon Fee suggests we pause before concluding this text is an ancient hymn.

First, if originally a hymn, it has no correspondence of any kind with Greek hymnody or poetry; therefore it would have to be Semitic in origin. But the alleged Semitic parallelism of this piece is unlike any known example of Hebrew psalmody … Second, exalted—even poetic—prose does not necessarily mean that one is dealing with a hymn … Third, the … connection of the “hymn” with its antecedent is not at all smooth … Fourth, as  pointed out in the commentary, these sentences, exalted and rhythmic as they are, follow one another in perfectly orderly prose—all quite in Pauline style … Fifth, many of the alleged lines are especially irregular if they are intended to function as lines of Semitic poetry … It should be noted finally that any excision of words or lines, so as to reproduce the “original” hymn, is an exercise in exegetical futility.[28]

Paul does not use the term “hymn” 1 Corinthians 14:26 as given in the ESV; rather, Paul uses the term “psalm.”  This is also the case in 1 Corinthians 14:15.  These texts read, “What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing [psalō] with the spirit and I will sing [psalō] with the mind also … What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm [psalmon] … ” Calvin does not agree with the supposition that these texts refer to newly-inspired hymns. “When he says, ‘I shall sing the Psalms,’ or I shall sing, he is speaking specifically instead of generally. For, since the Psalms had as their themes the praises of God, he uses ‘singing psalms’ [psalein] for blessing or giving thanks to God.”[29]

In this same context, Calvin mentions Governor Pliny’s letter to Emperor Tajan.  Dr. Gordon holds that Pliny’s letter (c. 110 AD) affirms the existence of early Christian hymns, as we know them. However, we should beware of imputing twenty-first century meaning to the term “hymn.”  From the Biblical and the first and early second century perspective, the Psalms are called hymns, as several Psalm titles indicate. For example, Psalm 76:1 is designated both a “a psalm of Asaph,” and “a song” in the MT. The LXX (numbered 75:1) title reads, “among the hymns, a psalm of Asaph, a song [en humnois psalmos tōi Asaph ōde].[30] In addition, Psalm 72:20 marks the end of Book 2 of the Psalter and reads, “The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.” Significantly, the LXX says, “The hymns [hoi humnoi] of David the son of Jesse are ended.” In other words, the LXX considers the Psalms of David to be hymns. Psalms are hymns. Calvin therefore interprets 1 Corinthians 14 and Pliny as referring to the Psalms. He also affirms that Psalmody was the practice of the early church from the beginning.

From this verse we also gather, however, that at that time the custom of singing was already among believers. That is also established by Pliny, who, writing at least forty years after the death of Paul, tells us that the Christians were in the habit of singing hymns to Christ before daylight. And indeed I have no doubt that from the very beginning they adopted the usage of the Jewish Church in singing psalms.[31]

Finally, Professor Gordon quotes Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” The emphasis is his and Dr. Gordon explains. “What the Colossians sang in their psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs were rich with the message/word about Christ.” As seen above, and as we will see below, Dr. Gordon tenaciously holds it is modern hymnody that gives us songs rich with the message and word about Christ rather than Psalmody.  But what are the Psalms.  They are part of the prophetic word; the Psalms are the word of Christ (1 Pet. 1:11).  To sing the Psalms is to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.  Colossians 3:16 does not deny Psalmody; this text affirms Psalmody.[32]

And so Dr. Gordon gives us his “Conclusion.”  Narrowing Christian praise to the exclusive use of Psalms is to muzzle the church as far as her acknowledgement of the great deeds of God in Christ.  This is how Professor Gordon puts the case. The emphasis is added.

The evidence throughout the history of revelation is the same: Songs of lament, thanks, or praise are the ongoing response to divine acts and perfections. When God acts in judgment or deliverance, his people reply in lament, thanksgiving, or praise, as befits the situation. The Lord is not only great, but “greatly to be praised” (1 Chron. 16:25; Ps. 48:1; 96:4; 145:3). Each of his great attributes and each of his great acts is to be greatly praised. The notion that his greatest acts—the incarnation, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of his Son—would be greeted mutely is contrary to the entire pattern of act-and-praise disclosed across biblical history, and is indeed contrary to the evidence of the New Testament.

Professor Gordon appears to believe that exclusive Psalmody renders the church of Jesus Christ mute when it comes to responding in praise to God’s greatest acts—the incarnation, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of his Son.  Those of us who hold to exclusive Psalmody do sing of the incarnation using the words of Christ. “I said, ‘Behold I come, As in the book foretold. To do your will, O God, Is surely my delight, Your law is part of me, Set deep within my heart.’” (Psa. 40:7-8; Heb. 10:9).[33] We also sing of Christ’s passion. “And even my familiar friend, In whom my trust was real, The one who ate my bread has turned, And lifted up his heel” (Psa. 41:9; John 13:18).[34] “My God, my God, to you I cry, O why have you forsaken me? Why are you far from giving help, And from my agonizing plea” (Psa. 22:1, Mark 15:34).[35] We sing of Christ’s death. “Into Your hand my spirit I now entrust to You; Because You have redeemed me, Lord God whose word is true” (Psa. 31:5; Luke 23:46).[36] We sing of Christ’s resurrection. “For You’ll not abandon my soul to the grave, Your Godly One You will preserve from decay” (Psa. 16:10; Acts 2:31, 13:35).[37] We sing of Christ’s ascension. “You’ve ascended to the highest, Leading captives as Your own” (Psa. 68:18; Eph. 4:8).[38]  We also sing of Jesus, “The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want; He makes me down to lie In pastures green; He leadeth me The quiet waters by” (Psa. 23:1; John 10:14).[39]  And we sing of the Kingship of Christ and His heavenly reign. “The Lord has spoken to my Lord: ‘Sit here at My right hand Until I make your foes a stool On which your feet may stand” (Psa. 110:1; Mat. 22:44; 1 Cor. 15:25).[40] Many other citations could be added.

As indicated above, Professor Gordon’s position fails to properly relate the historical development of worship, and more specifically of Psalmody, within Israel and on into the New Testament church.  His position also fails to appreciate the redemptive-historical, prophetic, and eschatological significance of the Psalter quoted so often in the New Testament and interpreted of Christ by the apostles. The Psalter is quite adequate for New Testament praise.  Repeating the words of Geerhardus Vos, “[A] more perfect language for communion with God cannot be framed.”[41]

Dennis J Prutow is Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Penn.

 



[1] We should note that when David initiated sacred song in tabernacle worship (1 Chron. 16:1-7), the examples of this praise are selections from three Psalms (Psa. 105:1-15, 96:1-13, and 106:1, 47, and 48; 1 Chron. 16:8-36). Here is another evidence of Psalmody used exclusively in Israel’s stated worship.

[2] T. David Gordon, “Ordained Servant Online” (Philadelphia: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 2014), accessed 3/18/2014.  All quotes of Dr. Gordon come from this same source.

[3] Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 268.

[4] James W. McKinnon, “On the Question of Psalmody in the Ancient Synagogue,” Early Music History 6 (1986): 181.

[5] John Smith, “The Ancient Synagogue, the Early Church and Singing,” Music and Letters 65 (1984), 5. Smith cites, “Mishna, the Tosefta (completed A.D. c. 250), the Jerusalem Talmud (completed A.D. c. 400), and the Babylonian Talmud (completed A.D. c. 500).” See his notes 26, 27, and 28.

[6] 23. Smith, 5, “The Ancient Synagogue,” in Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel’s Worship (New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), 1:4.

[7] Christopher Page, The Christian West and Its Singers (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 42.

[8] John W. Kleinig, The Lord’s Song (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 68.

[9] Sigmund Mowinkel, The Psalms in Israel’s Worship, trans. D. R. Ap-Thomas, 2 vols. (Oxford: Blackwell; Nashville: Abington, 1962), 1: 78. In Bruce K. Waltke and James M. Houston, The Psalms as Christian Worship (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 25.

[10] We should note that when David initiated sacred song in tabernacle worship (1 Chron. 16:1-7), the examples of this praise are selections from three Psalms (Psa. 105:1-15, 96:1-13, and 106:1, 47, and 48; 1 Chron. 16:8-36). Here is another evidence of Psalmody used exclusively in Israel’s stated worship.

[11]  David C. Mitchel, The Message of the Psalter (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 64.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid., 64-65.

[14] Ibid., 65. See Mitchell’s complete historical review, 15-65.

[15] Psalms 86, 89, 101, 103, 108, 109, 110, 122, 124, 131, 133, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, and 145.

[16] For a detailed discussion of these matters, consult, Dennis J. Prutow, Public Worship 101 (Pittsburgh: RPTS Press, 2013), 309-368, 391-439.

[17] Mowinkel, The Psalms in Israel’s Worship, 1: 78. Waltke, The Psalms as Christian Worship, 25. Italics added.

[18] The Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1983), 897-898, 905-906.

[19] Geerhardus Vos, “Songs from the Soul,” Grace and Glory (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 1994), 170, italics

added.

[20] In William Lane, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 501.

[21] Lane, 501.

[22] John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, trans. James Anderson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 4:173.

[23] Prutow, Public Worship 101, 294-295. Italics in the original.

[24] John Calvin, “Epistle to the Reader,” 1543 Genevan Psalter, in Charles Garside, The Origin of Calvin’s

Theology of Music: 1536-1543 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1979), 33.

[25] Ibid., 23.

[26] Ibid., 24.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 41-43.

[29] John Calvin, The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, trans. John W. Fraser (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), 292-293.

[30] See also Psalms 6:1, 61:1, and 67:1 in the LXX.

[31] Calvin, First Corinthians, 293.

[32] For further argumentation on this point, see Prutow, Public Worship 101, 246-251.

[33] The Book of Psalms for Worship (Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant, 2012), 40A.

[34] Ibid., 41B.

[35] Ibid., 22B.

[36] Ibid., 31B.

[37] Ibid., 16C.

[38] Ibid., 68D.

[39] Ibid., 23B.

[40] Ibid., 110B.

[41] Vos, Grace and Glory, 170, italics added.