Week 7 Day 4: Creative Progression of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

Another extra resource for readers of the Pure Praise worship study:

For Week 7 Day 4 (regarding Colossians 3:16)

While we find Christian hymns in the church at a very early period, as one scholar admitted, “Our information regarding the hymnology of the early Christians is very limited.”1 Most agree, however, that the “psalms” Paul referred to are the original Psalms written by David and Asaph. Hymns, on the other hand, seem to be parts of Psalms or, perhaps, songs of praise based on the Psalms and other passages. It’s safe to conclude, then, that along the way people creatively constructed some new songs from original ones. Paul goes on to say we should also sing “spiritual songs,” which were songs that “express emotions”2 and “may contain a greater variety of matter, doctrinal, prophetical, historical.”3 With these songs it seems Paul was giving the church even more freedom to express themselves and create new songs of worship. I want us to also notice that Paul wasn’t advocating balance between the older and the newer songs. In fact, the Bible is quite out of balance in this regard—with far more references to singing new songs than to singing or playing the older styles and songs. The key condition for all of our songs is that they be Spirit-led (and Spirit-initiated!)

1Easton, Matthew George. “Entry for Hymn”. “Easton’s Bible Dictionary” 1853
2 Johnson, Barton W. “Commentary on Ephesians 5”. “People’s New Testament” 1891
3 Henry, Matthew. “Commentary on Ephesians 5”. “Matthew Henry Complete Commentary
on the Whole Bible” 1706

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