Singing from the Book of Praises
How we worship is an important issue. All my brothers and sisters in Christ would agree that the
argument "as long as we're sincere, our worship is okay, no matter how we go about worship" doesn't
hold up to the test of Scripture. What I want to specifically focus on in this article (and it only begins the
subject!) is the subject of what we are to sing.
I grew up singing what are commonly known as "hymns," which are actually non-inspired religious songs. And when we first moved to Vermont, I was the song leader in our church (which is when I was still unregenerate). I was careful (I thought) to pick out songs that were Scriptural. I also avoided those songs that I knew were written by haters of God, such as the Wesleys. I thought that by picking out Scriptural songs and avoiding non-Scriptural songs and wicked authors, I was doing what was prescribed in the Bible. After all, doesn't the Bible say that we are to sing "Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs"? Some of the songs were based on the Psalms, and I guessed that the other songs fit into the "Hymns and Spiritual Songs" category (although I didn't know the difference between the two), so I thought I was doing the right thing. I even wrote some "hymns," complete with words and music.
Going merrily along in my ignorance ...
Until I encountered these weird "Psalms-only" people! How strange! You mean you think it's not right to sing Toplady's songs in worship? What about Amazing Grace? What about "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness"? It seemed to me that they were only singing "Psalms" and leaving out the "Hymns and Spiritual Songs" that were also prescribed in the Bible. But I checked out their arguments. And they were RIGHT ON!
I just want to touch on what I found out. I found out that what we know as the book of "Psalms" is actually The Book of Praises. I found out that The Book of Praises contains the Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (Mitzmorim, Shirim, and Tehillim) that are mentioned in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. And when we started singing from The Book of Praises exclusively, I found out that these songs FAR SURPASS anything that any non-inspired man (or woman -- e.g., Fanny Crosby -- which is actually a form of women teaching in the church) has EVER written. It's not even close. I had read the Psalms before and had sung songs taken from the Psalms, but to be immersed in them every worship service gave me an appreciation for them that I never had before. They are full of Jesus Christ in all His redemptive glory. They are a summary of the whole Bible! How wise our Master is in prescribing what we are to sing! There is nothing that can be added to these precious songs. And there is nothing that should be added to these precious songs.
Many of my brethren who are still singing non-inspired songs are working hard to weed out the heretical songs and the songs by heretical authors. But you know what? You're going to weed them out to almost NOTHING. The Wesleys are just the beginning! Isaac Watts was a big-time heretic. I heard a pastor say that he's now afraid to look into the lives of these hymn-writers because he'll have to eliminate their hymns and be down to almost nothing. It's the truth! But I encouraged this pastor to look into God's Word and find out what God prescribes for what we are to sing -- then he won't have to be afraid of singing songs by heretics. But the main reason to sing exclusively from The Book of Praises is NOT that it saves us from the toil of weeding out heretical songs and authors -- it is because God has prescribed it! What more reason do we need?
I can tell you this -- once you start singing from The Book of Praises exclusively, you'll never go back.
One of the scary things might be that your congregation is going to have to learn all new songs. You had all the old standards that everybody knew, and now it's like starting all over again. Well, I hope something I've done will help you. I have put all the songs (with some exceptions) from The Book of Psalms for Singing (Crown & Covenant Publications) to tunes that are found in the old Trinity Hymnal. Even if you're not familiar with the Trinity Hymnal, most of these tunes are well-known, and the ones that are not so well-known are easy to learn. And I have put all this at http://www.outsidethecamp.org/psalms.htm for you to download.
I strongly urge all my brothers and sisters in Christ to sing from God's prescribed Book of Praises. What a blessing it will be for you, your family, and your congregation.