Why Arguments for Exclusive Psalmody Don’t Stand Up

Brian McClung, Minister of Newtownabbey Free Presbyterian Church in northern Ireland, has offered a series of posts in which he gives some persuasive reasons why, in the end, arguments for the use of exclusive psalmody in worship simply doesn’t hold water.

McClung writes in his opening post:

The point of dispute is not the singing of Psalms. It is the singing of Psalms exclusively. To say that the book of Psalms gives us many wonderful examples of how God is to be praised is one thing but to say that only the Psalter is to be used and nothing else in worship is something else entirely.

Does the Bible teach that we have only one book of inspired praise and that is the book of Psalms and therefore nothing of mere human composition is ever to be sung? I do not believe that it does. I don’t believe that the Scriptures nor Church History agrees with the exclusive Psalmist position.

1. The terms ‘Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs’ inEphesians 5:19 & Colossians 3:16 do not refer to the 150 Psalms of the Book of Psalms.

2. Old Testament and New Testament saints did not live by this exclusive psalmist rule.

3. The angels and glorified saints did not sing the psalms.

4. There are possible remnants of hymns/canticles/doxologies quoted in the New Testament.

5. Progressive Revelation argues against Exclusive Psalmody.

6. Exclusive Psalmody leads to different levels of worship.

7. The Exclusive Psalmist’s position requires them to reject ever singing the ‘very best song’ in public worship.

8. If ‘inspired praise’ is required then an equally valid argument could be made for ‘inspired praying’ and ‘inspired preaching’ in public worship.

9. The early New Testament Church did not believe in Exclusive Psalmody.

10. The Reformers at Geneva did not believe or practice Exclusive Psalmody.

11. The Puritans did not all believe in Exclusive Psalmody.

12. The Westminster Divines did not believe in Exclusive Psalmody.

13. Scottish Presbyterianism has not always believed in Exclusive Psalmody.

14. The metrical translation of the psalms is not an accurate translation.

15. Singing Psalms which make mention of musical instruments.

16. A number of the Psalms could not have been sung in public worship as they contained instructions forbidden in public worship.

17. An Exclusive Psalmist cannot sing the name of “Jesus”.