New addition to the site: Heart and Voice, Instrumental Music in Christian Worship not Divinely Authorized by James Glasgow, 1873

I found a great review of this book from The Original Secession Magazine January 1873-1874, Vol XI, Publisher J. Maclaren, p 387-388 and there is historical context provided below as well. As you will see, the students in the church were gradually carried along to reject a cappella singing. “Most of the students sympathized with the party of liberty, which, year by year, grew stronger as these young men were licensed and ordained.” It was in this context that Glasgow wrote Heart and Voice.

Heart and Voice: Instrumental Music in Christian Worship not Divinely Authorized” By James Glasgow, D.D., Irish General Assembly’s Professor of Oriental Languages. Belfast: C. Aitchison.

“This is a learned and laborious work. Indeed, from the amount of textual criticism it contains, we fear that superficial readers will be disposed to vote it dry. They may insinuate, too, as one critic of the book whose notice we have seen actually does, that so much digging about Hebrew and Greek roots is not productive enough to repay the labour. But the ready and sufficient answer to such shallow and flippant animadversions is, that the real teaching of Scripture on any subject can only be ascertained by a critical investigation of its meaning; and that, particularly, when the advocates of instrumental music betake themselves to the original text of Scripture, and profess to find an unanswerable argument for the organ in the meaning of this and that Hebrew and Greek word, it becomes absolutely necessary to follow them there, and to shew that their philological argument is as baseless as any and every other argument they employ.

The learned professor does all this, and more. Anxious to get to the very bottom of this important and recently much-debated question, he goes through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and subjects to a thorough critical examination every passage which bears, or may be supposed to bear, on the subject of instrumental music. Then, gathering up and summarizing the results, he makes it plain beyond all reasonable question that, while instrumental music was sanctioned under the Davidic dispensation, and in connection with the ritual and symbolic worship of the temple, the whole testimony of Scripture combines to shew that it is no part of moral-natural worship, that it passed away with the old ceremonial system of which (for a time) it formed a part, and that it is simple Judaism to attempt to re-introduce it into the spiritual worship of the gospel day. In the concluding chapters, he reviews and refutes the leading arguments for the use of instruments in public worship; states some subordinate objections to it; and gives a very valuable summary of opinions against it, from the testimonies of the early Fathers and of the Reformers down to those of recent writers on the subject.

On the whole, this is not a book to gallop through at a sitting. Nor is it a book which critics of the calibre who think it enough to ask you, “Does not David say, ‘Praise the Lord with a harp'”? are capable of judging. But all who are competent to follow the author through his inductive investigation of the teaching of Scripture on the subject, and who are prepared to accept of Scripture as the sole and sufficient rule of worship as well as of faith and morality, will rise from its perusal, feeling that he has proved the use of organs in the public praise of a Christian congregation to be as purely a piece of will-worship as the incense and the images of Romanism.”

——-

The sad historical context of the book is found in A History of the Irish Presbyterians by William Thomas Latimer:

“The growth of an emotional form of worship in the Irish Presbyterian Church was now exhibited by the introduction of instrumental music to the public services of the sanctuary in some town congregations which boasted of their culture. This matter came before the Assembly in 1868, by a reference from the Synod of Armagh and Monaghan regarding the use of a harmonium in the congregation of Enniskillen.

Presbyterianism had, at one time, been strong in County Fermanagh. Under Captain M’Carmick and the Rev. Robert Kelso, a movement was originated by the leading Presbyterians which saved Enniskillen from King James, and rendered it possible to defend Londonderry. Burdy, in his life of Skelton, admits that in the middle of the next century Presbyterians were still a substantial body in County Fermanagh; but the Synod failed to establish a number of churches sufficient for their accommodation, and they were gradually absorbed by Episcopacy. Even when a revival came, it was Methodism which annexed that district. From 1837 the Rev. Alexander Cooper Maclatchy had been in charge of our Enniskillen congregation, and being somewhat Episcopal in his tendencies, he introduced a harmonium to improve the congregational psalmody. Mr. Maclatchy’s action was opposed in Presbytery, Synod and Assembly, by the Rev. James Gardner Robb, an exceedingly ready and logical debate. When this matter came before the Assembly in 1868, it was proposed to refer it to a commission, but an amendment of Dr. Cooke was carried to the effect, that ” the common law” of the Church excluded the use of instrumental music in the public worship of God, and that Presbyteries should be instructed to see that congregations conform to this ” law.”

The injunction was disobeyed, and, as an excuse for their disobedience, the “liberty” party asserted that no “law” had been passed by the Assembly, either then or previously, which prohibited an instrumental aid from being employed in the congregational psalmody. Thus the controversy was continued. Year by year resolutions were passed by the Assembly ordering disobedient congregations to abstain from using instruments in the service of the Sanctuary; but these resolutions were disregarded, and the “purity” party, although able to carry prohibitions, were unable to induce the Church to punish those who disobeyed her orders.

In these debates and in the war of pamphlets and newspaper articles, the Revs. Dr. William Dool Killers, John Macnaughtan, Henry Wallace, Dr. Robert Watts, Dr. H. B. Wilson, Dr. Thomas Y. Killen, and Dr. R. Workman, were among those who advocated the principle of permitting congregations to introduce an instrumental accompaniment in the service of praise; while the Revs. Dr. Nathaniel M. Brown, Dr. Corkey, Dr. Glasgow,* Dr. John Kinnear, George Magill, Dr. Petticrew, Dr. Robb, Dr. Robinson, and Dr. James Maxwell Rogers, advocated the principles of purity in the worship of God, and obedience to the injunctions of the Assembly. The great majority of elders were on the same side, but Mr. Thomas Sinclair lent his powerful aid to those who advocated what they termed “liberty.” Most of the students sympathized with the party of liberty, which, year by year, grew stronger as these young men were licensed and ordained.

When the purity party had a majority in the Assembly, they might have easily passed a law, with penalties annexed, prohibiting any congregation from employing an “instrument” except for the defined purpose of aiding the congregational psalmody, and only when sanctioned by a very large majority of voters. But the opportunity was neglected, and “instruments” are now introduced by “Sessions” when often there is a considerable proportion of the people against the innovation.

When Dr. Johnston was moderator, he carried a resolution pledging the Assembly, in 1873, to pass no law on the question, and binding the congregations which employed instrumental music to give up its use. But this resolution failed to settle the matter in dispute. Several of the offending ministers denied that they had entered into any agreement, and they continued to defy the authority of the Assembly.”

* Rev. James Glasgow, D.D., appointed Missionary to India in 1840, and Assembly’s Professor of Oriental languages in 1865, died in 1890. Dr. Glasgow was modest, kind-hearted, and possessed of great learning.

Is God jealous in the matters of his worship? Yes

From Matthew Henry’s A Scripture Catechism in the Method of the Assembly’s 

Matthew henryQ. 52. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, are God’s sovereignty over us, his property in us, and the zeal he has to his own worship.

1. Is there good reason why we should take heed of idolatry? Yes: Turn ye not to idols, neither make to yourselves molten gods, I am the Lord your God, Lev. 19:4. Has God a sovereignty over us? Yes: for he is a great God, and a great King above all gods, Ps. 95:3. Ought we therefore to worship him, as he has appointed us? Yes: O come let us worship, and bow down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker, Ps. 95:6. And not to worship idols? Yes: for they can do neither good nor evil, Isa. 41:23.

2. Has God a property in us? Yes: for we are the people of his pasture, Ps. 95:7. Ought we therefore to worship him? Yes: He is thy Lord, and worship thou him, Ps. 45:11. And not to worship other gods? Yes: for hath a nation changed their gods? Jer. 2:11.

3. Is God jealous in the matters of his worship? Yes: The Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, Exod. 34:14. Is he much displeased with those who corrupt it? Yes: They provoked the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities, 1 Kings 16:13. Do those who do so hate him? Yes: Idolaters are haters of God, Rom. 1:25, 30. Will he visit their iniquity? Yes: In the day m when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them, Exod. 32:34. Will he visit it upon the children? Yes: Our fathers sinned, and are not, and we have borne their iniquities, Lam. 5:7. And is it just with him to do so? Yes: for they are the children of whoredoms, Hos. 2:4. But will he visit it for ever? No: but to the third and fourth generation, Exod. 34:7.

4. Will those who love God keep his commandments? Yes: If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, John 15:10. Will he show mercy to such? Yes: for he hath said, I love them that love me, Prov. 8:17. Will he show mercy to thousands of such ? Yes: for the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, Ps. 103:17.

For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14

From John Flavel’s An Exposition of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism:

John_flavelQ. 6. What is the first reason annexed to the second commandment?
A. The first reason annexed is God’s sovereignty, I the Lord; which shews that it belongs to God only to institute his own worship, and make it effectual; and therefore to do that in his worship which he never commanded, is sinful and dangerous; Jeremiah 7:31. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

Q. 7. What is the second reason annexed to the second commandment?
A. The second reason is God’s propriety in us: He is our God, and we belong to him; and therefore to corrupt his worship, greatly aggravates our sins; Hosea 9:1. Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people; for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, &c.

Q. 8. What is the third reason annexed to the second commandment?
A. The jealousy of God over his worship and worshippers; so that this sin of corrupting his worship will dreadfully incense his wrath, as it did, Leviticus 10:1-2. And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire thereon, and offered strange fire, before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.

Q. 9. What is the first instruction from the second commandment?
A. That it is an heinous sin to neglect the worship of God in that manner he hath appointed us to worship him, as in prayer; Jeremiah 10:25. Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name. Hearing the word; Proverbs 28:9. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

Q. 10. What is the second instruction from the second commandment?
A. That those who suffer for endeavouring to preserve the purity of God’s ordinances, and nonconformity to the contrary injunctions of men, have a good warrant to bear them out in all such sufferings; Deuteronomy 4:2. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you.

Q. 11. What is the third instruction from the second commandment?
A. That it is highly sinful and dangerous to innovate and prescribe by human authority such symbolical rites in the worship of God, as he never appointed or allowed in his word; Matthew 15:9. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Q. 12. What is the fourth instruction hence?
A. Hence we learn how much parents and children are obliged to worship God constantly, spiritually, and agreeably to his will revealed in his word; otherwise the jealousy of God will visit them both in the way of judgment: For as obedience entails a blessing, so disobedience entails a curse on posterity; Exodus 34:14. For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

New Location: Vancouver Reformed Church

Vancouver Reformed Church
Burnaby Community Room
3605 Gilmore Way,
Burnaby, BC
Canada V5C 4S8

Vancouver Reformed Church

We are a Reformed church in Vancouver, BC, Canada, adhering to the original Westminster Confession and Standards with its covenanted uniformity in doctrine, worship and government. Our church is seeking to join the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, a direct descendant of the historic Church of Scotland of the Reformation.

We cherish:

Puritan piety
Worship regulated by the Word of God with a Capella singing and exclusive psalmody
Calvinistic doctrines of Grace
The Presbyterian form of governance

Service Times: Lord’s Day 9:30 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.

Location: We are currently reviewing public meeting places. In the meantime, are worshiping at different locations in Greater Vancouver.

Please contact us to find out our current meeting location.

Here is what you can expect when you come to one of our services:

We aim for reverence in our worship.
The preaching of God’s Word and prayer are central components of our worship.
We use the Scottish Metrical Psalter for our singing (without instrumental accompaniment).

Our standard order of service is as follows:

Opening Psalm
Prayer
Scripture Reading
Psalm
Sermon
Prayer
Closing Psalm

What is ‘Biblical’ Worship? Biblical Hermeneutics and Evangelical Theologies of Worship by Michael A. Farley

What is ‘Biblical’ Worship? Biblical Hermeneutics and Evangelical Theologies of Worship. by Michael A. Farley

JETS 51/3 (September 2008) 591-613

Farley ends up rejecting a Puritan RPW (surprise!), but the article contains many resources for research if you’re interested.

God’s Songs, and the Singer. Four Sermons. by John M. Bain

A Book Review from The Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter, 1870, Volume 8 Edited by John W. Sproull and Thomas Sproull, p 319

Prom the United Presbyterian Board of Publication, 93 Third avenue, Pittsburgh:

God’s Songs, And The Singer. Four Sermons. By Rev. John M. Bain, Pastor of the U. P. Church of New Castle, Pa. 40 cts.

In the first discourse, the author, after a few introductory remarks, states the question, Should we use the Scripture Psalms exclusively in the worship of God, and proceeds to give his reasons for taking the affirmative. The sum of the argument is—God has prepared these songs for use in his worship. This is equivalent to a command. “They have never,” either by an express repeal, by limitation in their appointment, or by a substitute “been abrogated, but are continued with authority, in the church.” In our using them, we but do as did Christ and the Apostles.

In the second discourse, he shows that the Psalms have been in uninterrupted use in the church for 2,800 years, and are most admirably adapted for matter of praise. Examples are adduced to show that in heavenly language are praised the divine attributes—majesty, sovereignty, wisdom, justice, holiness, mercy, grace—that the living God, subsisting in three persons, is worshipped—that fallen man’s natural state and character are exhibited in a manner fitted to awaken deep conviction of sin and deep humility—and that Christ is everywhere to be found—Christ as Prophet, Priest and King—’ Christ the ” man of sorrows,” the Saviour of his people, the enthroned Medi-, ator. The testimony of some of the most eminent Christians and Christian teachers, ancient and modern, is produced to show that in their opinion the Psalms contain the richest treasures of Christian experience ever given to the world.

In the third discourse, objections to the Psalms are answered—” they contain malevolent and vengeful imprecations,” “speak of a Saviour to come,” are “encumbered with Jewish images,” “not suited to days of revivals,” “hard to be understood,” and ” unsuitable for children.” The arguments offered for the use of hymns are next examined, and then are presented objections to the use of uninspired songs in divine worship.
The fourth discourse is founded on 1 Kings 15: 5, and is entitled “The Shame and Glory of David.”

From the above synopsis may be seen the course mapped out by the author. We most cheerfully recommend his work to our readers, as well calculated to increase their love and admiration for the “book of Psalms,” and to strengthen their resolution to use it, and it alone, in the worship of God.

Songs of the Spirit, The Place of the Psalms in the Worship of God, edited by Kenneth Stewart

Songs of the Spirit coverSongs of the Spirit can be purchased from Peter and Rachel Reynolds Books. It is £5 and the proceeds go to hospices in Scotland. Estimated postage costs are: USA (0-7): £1.80; USA (8-9) & Rest of World including EU: £3.30

A sample chapter is here. View Sample

Songs of the Spirit is an important study on the subject of praise. We need sound teaching on biblical worship. The worship that God commands from us, rather than that which we choose to give to Him. A variety of authors from various Churches have contributed to this volume. They share a common conviction that we must worship God in the songs that He Himself has inspired. “It is the conviction of all who contribute to this book that the recovery of earnest, intelligent and spiritual unaccompanied singing of Psalms in the praise of the church is a major part of the repentance and renewal so badly needed in the church today.”

Another publication called Reformed Worship may also be of interest. It is £1. View Sample

Reformed Worship is a vital guide to Reformed Worship Coverworship. Nothing is more sacred and more important than the worship of God. The Bible must have the pre-eminent place in our worship services. But how should a service of public worship feel and sound when the Word of God has central place and reverence for God governs everything? This booklet describes a service of reverent worship grounded upon Scripture principles. It will be helpful for those who conduct public worship as well as those seeking for worship that truly honours God. It will have a hearty reception where there is a sincere desire to know how to worship God in spirit and in truth. It is extracted and updated from an older publication called The Directory of Public Worship. This updated extract is in no way meant to replace the original authoritative document. Instead, it shows its abiding relevance and may encourage many to read the original for themselves.

Thanks to Matthew Vogan for sending this information along!