19 November, 2007

Synod Committee Report on Worship 1898

You find such great things while digging through synodical minutes. Some things are quite boring, but there are also comments that are very practical, devotional, and spiritual in nature. In 1898, the RPCNA re-afirrmed their position on worship that had been the practice in the church since the time of the Scottish Reformation. There are very few denominations or churches that have held their principles on worship as long... I could be wrong, but I do not think that there are any in North America.

Here is their reaffirmation on biblical worship:

Since the second or third century of the Christian era what should be sung in the worship of God has been a matter of more or less controversy. Until that time the subject was very simple; all were found singing the Scriptural Psalms. The only arbiter in the matter is the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
However much might be truly said of many songs of human composition in praise of their beauty and excellence, the Christian conscience must be satisfied with nothing short of Divine authority for what is used in the worship of God. What is best suited to incite devotional feelings and give them proper expression is not the primary matter for consideration; but what is the will of God? Saving faith is the submission of our wills to God's, and the subjection of our judgment to His.

Concerning the matter and manner of His worship the Lord has laid down a general principle to be followed by his people in all ages, places and circumstances: "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it." (Deut. xii., 32.) "All power," says Christ, "is given unto me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt, xxviii., 18-20.)


There are irrefragable reasons for believing that the Psalms, commonly called the Psalms of David, and they only, have been divinely authorized to be sung in the worship of God. These Psalms are inspired, as none dispute, and hence are found in the canon of Scripture. They are lyric in structure, and consequently composed to be sung. They have been, under divine direction and superintendence, collected into one book, and hence give proof of being intended for general and continuous use. As a historical fact, they have been used in the worship of God through all the ages of the Church, and exclusively until the Second or Third Century, A. D. The law authorizing their use has never been repealed.

The Lord has not given the Church another book of praise as a substitute. O n the contrary, Christ and the Apostles used the Psalms of David exclusively in the worship of God, and Christ has, through His Apostles, given His seal to their exclusive right of use: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Col. iii., 16; also, Eph. v., 19.)


In connection with the singing of praise in the worship of God there has crept into the modern Church a corruption in the use of instruments of music. It is deemed that there is no Divine authority for this innovation. In the pattern of the Tabernacle which God gave to Moses, after which he was to construct a place of worship, no mention is made of instruments of music, and in harmony with a principle now well-established that what is not commanded is forbidden, instruments of music were not introduced by Moses.

Instruments of music were introduced into the Tabernacle worship in the later years of David's life, and also into the Temple worship; but only at the plain command of God. In the reconstruction of the Church in N e w Testament times no mention is made of instruments of music by Christ and His Apostles in their instructions concerning the mode of worship, and New Testament history and early Church history, their use before the Tenth or Eleventh Century of the Christian Era.


We recommend:

I. That pastors be urged to present the subject to their congregations at least once during the year.
2. That parents be urged to continue the old practice of having their children memorize the Psalms.

ROBT. A. PADEN,
THOS. A. RUSK, J. R. LATIMER, Of the Committee.

The following resolution was adopted: Resolved, that all our people, old and young, are hereby warned to avoid all appearance of giving their approval to the use of man-made hymns and instrumental music in the worship of God. R. M. Sommerville was instructed to issue such new editions of the Psalter as may be called for.

1 comment:

voxstefani said...

Nathan, is this Czech Psalter shown in the picture available online?