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Were the Israelites Exclusive Psalmists? A response

This is an interesting response to the article I linked to several weeks ago from T. David Gordon regarding whether the Israelites were exclusive Psalmists.

It’s a conversation well worth having.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

3 Responses to Were the Israelites Exclusive Psalmists? A response

  1. Very interesting position – thanks for posting the link. More evidence that indeed, Paul’s “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” may all be the same?

    What the article does not address is HOW the psalms should be sung. If we wanted both inspiration and verse, we’d have to stick to Hebrew – denying a core idea of the Reformation.

    As soon as we translate the psalms, we get a very clumsy text that certainly does not lend itself to being sung in most languages. So then we are looking at paraphrases to make them singable in church.

    With that, we are definitely moving away from inspired writ and towards uninspired song – even if closely based on the original meaning. This seems to be a real dilemma.

    Add to that that we have no idea about the original melodies and form as to how the psalms were sung, and we have little ground to stand on.

    I realize I am preaching to the converted here but do you know how the ‘psalm only’ crowd try to resolve these problems?

    Also, let’s assume for a moment that the First Century Church did indeed only sing psalms (with or without instruments). Is that then normative for us today or simply a fact? There may have been other reasons, such as that this was simply what they were used to at the time and there wasn’t yet any new songwriting going on. After all, it seems the first Christians also celebrated Passah, which we no longer do (sorry if that is a bad example).

  2. Even the most rigid psalmody only advocate accepts translations; they would just emphasize that the translation must be a close a versification as possible.

  3. Thank you for linking to this, Scott! I agree, it’s a conversation well worth having—I’d even use the word “vital.” Very appreciated.

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