Re: Psalm singing
- --- In covenantedreformationclub@y..., Fredrick Fleming
> What gets me is that the reform church in thisWould that there were the case, but that is in fact inaccurate. I can
> country, were all Psalm singing until about 1930.
only speak for a few reformed traditions in America - Scottish /
Irish Presbyterian, Huegenot (French reformed), Hungarian Reformed,
German Reformed, and Dutch Reformed. As for any others that may have
been around here before 1930, I can't say what they were doing. But
as to those that I do have some information on...
The psalmody debate hit the mainline presbyterians at least by 1763,
and by 1764, allowance had been made to use "imitations of the
psalms" - referring to Watts. The issue continued in 1773, where the
decision was made to allow versions other than the old one approved
for use by the Scottish General Assembly but recommending Watts be
allowed until such time as could be reviewed. 1785 objections were
again raised, but more to the use of a multitude of versions than
necesarily to Watts' imitations per se. The decline in psalmody went
The French Reformed to my knowledge first adopted hymns of an
uninspired nature in 1706 under the direction of Benedict Pictet in
Geneva. Perhaps some of the other French churches adopted a few
sooner, but it is unclear. My first definite reference is 1706 in
Geneva. I am uncertain that there was any difference in the Huegenot
practice in America.
I am not sure when the Hungarian Reformed first came to America, but
I do know that like most Eastern European reformed churches, they
used uninspired hymnody at the beginning of their own history. This
began to wane after the whole Psalter was translated into Magyar by
Szenczi Molnar in 1607. I am not certain how prominent Psalmody
remained in the Hungarian Reformed churches, but I had been under the
impression that Transylvania was pretty much the main area of
exclusive psalmody after this point in the Hungarian reformed
churches, and I am not aware that all the churches there were (only
that there was supposed to have been such a movement there, however,
as with the German Reformed, it was done without constitutional
pronouncements). I pretty much prsume they were practicing uninspired
hymnody from the time they reached the American shores.
Most of the German Reformed churches were exclusive Psalmodist from
sometime in the early to mid 1600s until 1738, though there was a
move under the direction of the Pietist movement that began prior to
1738 to incorporate uninspired hymns in private worship meetings
meeting in people's homes and agitating their entrance into the
churches. The representatives of the German Reformed churches
in America would (like their homeland churches) have had no
constitutional prohibitions, but probably would have followed mostly
in the psalmody route until about the same time. Exceptions would
have most likely been churches from: Mark, Bremen, Brandenberg, and
the Palatinate (though only after elector Lewis replaced Frederick to
the seat of magistratical authority - Frederick had passed a civil
statute making the singing of uninspired hymnody in the churches
illegal). But even in those cases, the exceptions in the homeland
were only singing uninspired songs about 4 times a year, despite the
multitudes of hymns that were in the hymnals in their use in those
regions, so the practice in America might have been predominantly
Psalm singing, but not exclusively so, among churches in America that
were representative of those 4 regions.
The Dutch Reformed churches had made some pronouncements outlawing
uninspired hymnody prior to the 1618/19 Synod of Dordt (National
Synod of Dordt, 1578, art. 76; National Synod of Middelburg, 1581,
art. 51; the National Synod of Hague or Gravenhage, 1586, art. 62)
but to my recollection, the 1618/19 Synod represented a larger group
of churches, some of whom had not had such pronouncements nor
practice prior to that time. A concession was thus forged. The 1612
hymnal, Hymnische Lofsangen, already under use in some Dutch churches
was outlawed by the ecclesiastical court, but in session 162, it was
compromised that "The 10 Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the
Articles of Faith, the Songs of Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon, the
hymn 'O God who is our Father,' and so on, shall be left in the
freedom of the Churches, whether they want to use them or not, as
they see fit." There is apparently a discrepancy in various editions
of the church order of Dordt, because the same section in most modern
versions puts the material before "the hymn 'O God who is our
Father'" under the section "shall be sung" which in this version
places only "the 150 Psalms of David" before "shall be sung" -
whatever the original, both Mastricht and a Brakel refer to the
church as not having authority to mandate the singing of uninspired
materials, and a Brakel places it as an apparently standing decision
of "the Dutch synods," which could hardly be the case if "shall be
sung" referred to everything before "the hymn 'O God who is our
Father'". Further, the hymnody controversy over the principled issue
of hymnody altogether at least would not seem as likely to have been
an issue in 19th century Holland, America, or South Africa if these
songs had been required in the churches under the church order of
Dordt. (The version I am drawing from is an 1834 article written by
deCock in Holland.) Regardless the case, it is true that many of the
churches, however, at least did not use the additional uninspired
songs. It was not until 1789 that a hymnal was finally published in
Dutch for use among the reformed, and it remains unclear to me how
widespread its popularity was (in fact I am not entirely certain
whether it was actually in use among any of the churches). It
was in 1807 that a hymnal was formally adopted, and it was pushed in
1816, which sparked controversy that led eventually to the deposition
of several Dutch ministers who refused to use it because they were
opposed in principle to uninspired hymnody. At least one minister I
believe was arrested when caught burying his hymnal in his frontyard.
And the churches had problems with people marching in a procession
outside of the church during the singing and returning only after the
singing had finished. By by 1847, the church had so accepted them
that the Psalms were disappearing from the worship services, much to
the disdain and condemnation of not a few. In 1834 (or 35?) DeCock
had led the secession from the state church, making psalmody one of
the formal issues of secession. The churches under representation of
the secession clearly would have been opposed to the hymns when they
came to America, but as for the remainder of the Dutch in America,
that was not the case, at least by the mid-1800s (I can not speak for
before that time). In 1840, the overseers of Graafschap publically
objected to the DRCA for the incorporation of uninspired hymns. There
was eventually an 1857 secession over the issue (but I forget who
they seceeded from), and the issue was brought up again I believe in
the 1870s, though I do not recall my source for that recollection.
However, it does show that the Dutch Reformed also were certainly
singing uninspired hymnody prior to 1930 in America.
- This is the background I come from. DeCock formed the Christelijke
Gereformerde Kerk in the Netherlands around 1834-35 as BD pointed
out, which came to America in 1857 to form the Christian Reformed
Church in North America. I don't have access to the historical
documents I got this from but if I remember correctly this is sort
of how in went. In 1914 the CRC adopted the 1912 New metrical
Psalter of the United Presbyterian Church of NA (a much lesser
quality psalter than previous ones). In the CRC edition this
included with it the Songs of Mary, Zacharias, and Simeon together
with 52 hymns from the classis of Hackensack which corresponded to
the 52 Lord's Days of the Heidelberg catechism. The bible songs (non-
psalms) were under the section titled Spiritual Songs and the
catechitical songs under the section Hymns behind these were eight
doxologies and "My country tis of thee". If I remember rightly the
classis of Hackensak was group of churches that had come out of the
DRCA (now the RCA) sometime later than the original churches in
relation to Kuyper's Doliente movement. These were not in full
agreement with the EP position of the CRC at that time and they
tended to stir up some trouble. From what I have read I have the
impression that these 'extra' songs were not first intended to be
sung in worship but were rather for private instruction and
enjoyment. It was several years later (I don't have the date in
front of me) when the Hackensak churches began having sway and
the 'extra' songs were made obligatory, many pastors would not
comply and refused to use the songs in public worship though
threatened to be deposed. Other pastors went along though not
willingly. Soon Hackensack had its way and in 1934 the first Psalter
Hymnal was published in the CRC which had a large number of hymns.
Whats interesting is that it wasn't until acouple years later (I
think 1938?) that the official on the books EP position was changed.
Even the 1959 Palter Hymnal I have in front of me has 187 hymns
compared and 310 psalm renditions. Not that this was at all a good
thing, just to contrast that with the current Grey Hymnal that has
only 150 (short and poor)psalms (which are rarely if ever sung)
renditions out of about 600 songs. What is also interesting is that
4 years befroe the adopting of the 1912 psalter, in 1910, the CRC
revised the Belgic confession on the magistracy, by adding a
footnote that rejected the Establishment clause, mimicing the 1905
General Synod of the Gereformerde Kerken in Nederland, the same
church they had seceded from. In 1938 the clause was removed
altogether. :( Today the CRC faces many many troubles, abominable
worhip, gross and beastly polity, apathy and much more, please pray
for her chastisement, repentance and return to faithfullness the
> In 1834 (or 35?) DeCockof
> had led the secession from the state church, making psalmody one
> the formal issues of secession. The churches under representationof
> the secession clearly would have been opposed to the hymns whenthey
> came to America, but as for the remainder of the Dutch in America,for
> that was not the case, at least by the mid-1800s (I can not speak
> before that time). In 1840, the overseers of Graafschap publicallyThere
> objected to the DRCA for the incorporation of uninspired hymns.
> was eventually an 1857 secession over the issue (but I forget whoin
> they seceeded from), and the issue was brought up again I believe
> the 1870s, though I do not recall my source for that recollection.
> However, it does show that the Dutch Reformed also were certainly
> singing uninspired hymnody prior to 1930 in America.
- Those wanting to sing the Psalms here is a place to
download 1-50 of them.
Praise your Lord most high.
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- Forgot the site. hehehehe
--- Fredrick Fleming <followerofhim2001@...>
> Those wanting to sing the Psalms here is a place email@example.com
> download 1-50 of them.
> Praise your Lord most high.
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> Yahoo! Mail Plus � Powerful. Affordable. Sign up
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