The Sound the Word of Christ Makes When Poured

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One of the things that has characterized our congregational life for several decades now is psalm-singing. We do not hold to what has been called “exclusive psalmody”—where nothing but psalms are sung—but it would be fair to say that we hold to dominant psalmody. We want the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly, as we address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). In the Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Old Testament—the three Greek words that Paul uses there are the words used in the headers to categorize the entire psalter. We believe God wants us to be singing His Word back to Him, and we want to learn to sing all of it.

Jesus was a psalm-singer, and at the Last Supper it is highly likely that what they sang were the Hallel Psalms, which would be Ps. 113-118 (Matt. 26:30). And of course Jesus quoted the psalms from the cross, from “why have you forsaken me,” to “into your hands I commit my spirit.”

And of course, we have Paul’s exhortation. In Ephesians, singing is what characterized being filled by means of the Spirit. In Colossians, it is being filled with the Word of Christ. Combining these, it is best understood as the Spirit being the agent who pours, and the Word of Christ being the thing that He pours. The noise it makes is the music of psalm-singing. James tells us that the characteristic note of psalm singing should be exuberant joy. If someone is afflicted, he should pray. If someone is merry, he should sing psalms (Jas. 5:13).

With all this in mind, I wanted to mention and explain a decision of the elders that came out of our recent annual vision meeting. We are not discontinuing our psalm-singing, but we are decentralizing our scheduled psalm-singing. Instead of our monthly psalm-sing, or the weekly psalm-singing after the service, we are now encouraging you to continue and step up what has already started to happen—psalm sings being held in homes, in the context of hospitality. We would encourage parishes to host periodic psalm sings, and individuals to host get-togethers that feature psalm singing. You are doing this well, and we encourage you to do so more and more. And of course, the Beer & Psalms event for men at Canon Press on Wednesdays will continue.

And psalms will continue to occupy the place they have in our worship services.