Question #22: The Bible tells us to sing a “new song”. This seems to suggest we should not be limited to singing only the Old Testament Psalms. Isn’t that also proof that we should compose new hymns?

newQuestion #22: The Bible tells us to sing a “new song”. This seems to suggest we should not be limited to singing only the Old Testament Psalms. Isn’t that also proof that we should compose new hymns?


4 responses to “Question #22: The Bible tells us to sing a “new song”. This seems to suggest we should not be limited to singing only the Old Testament Psalms. Isn’t that also proof that we should compose new hymns?

  1. I heard this one again recently. I noticed it was not on the question list so I am adding it here. Please chime it with any thoughts or quotes that might be helpful to those who are investigating EP.

  2. Yes! You’re right! ‘hymns and spiritual songs.’ Reverent and reformed hymns celebrating the glories of the new covenant.

  3. From Brian Schwertley’s A Brief Examination of Exclusive Psalmody found here:

    “Some writers appeal to the “new song” mentioned in Revelation 14:3 as scriptural authorization for the composing of “new songs” today. A study of this phrase in Scripture, however, will prove that the biblical phrase “new song” has nothing to do with composing new uninspired songs after the close of the canon.

    The phrase “new song” in the Old Testament can refer to a song which has as its theme new mercies or new marvels of God’s power (e.g., 40:3; 98:1). But keep in mind that this phrase is only used to describe songs written under divine inspiration. This fact limits “new songs” to the inspired songs of the Bible. Since the phrase “new song” is only used to describe songs written by people who had the prophetic gift, and did not apply to just any Israelite, it therefore certainly does not apply to Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, or any other uninspired hymn writer. Another meaning of “new song” refers not to a song describing new mercies, but rather to singing a song anew; that is, with a thankful, rejoicing heart; with a new impulse of gratitude. The song may in fact be very old, but as we apply the inspired song experimentally to our own situation, we sing it anew. This is probably the meaning of “sing a new song” in the Psalms, which use the phrase, yet do not discuss new mercies. For example, Psalm 33 uses the phrase “sing a new song,” and then discusses general well-known doctrines: creation, providence, and hope and trust in God. Also, there is a sense in which all the Old Testament songs are “new songs” for the new covenant Christian, in that we sing the Psalms with an understanding and perspective unknown to Old Testament believers. Because of God’s expression of love in and by Christ, Jesus and the Apostle John can even refer to a well-known Old Testament commandment (Lev. 19:18) as a “new commandment” (Jn. 13:34; 1 Jn. 2:7; 2 Jn. 5).* ”

    * “40 Some think that “new” in new song merely means that the psalmist is asking God’s people to sing an inspired song of which they are not yet familiar. Others think that the phrase “sing a new song” is a liturgical phrase equivalent to “give it all you’ve got.” “Calvin regards new as equivalent to rare and choice” (W.S. Plumer, Psalms [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, [1867] 1975], p. 408). Speaking of the phrase “new song” in Revelation, Bushell writes: “The concept of ‘newness’ in the Book of Revelation is thus used as a poetic device to express in a heightened sense the fullness and scope of the eschatological redemption of all things. The ‘new song,’ the ‘new name,’ the ‘new heavens,’ the ‘new earth,’ and the ‘new Jerusalem’ are all yet future. The fact that we have in these visions a present anticipation of this newness, provides no more warrant for the production of ‘new’ worship song than it does for the building of a ‘new Jerusalem.’ Quite the contrary is the case. It is very significant, in fact, that worship song is placed in the category of the ‘new’ things of John’s vision. The distinguishing character of the ‘newness’ attributed to these objects is its divine origin” (The Songs of Zion, p. 96).”

  4. ‘A new song’ in the Psalms very simply has reference to a ‘song of praise’ to the Lord as Psalm 40:3 well illustrates: ‘And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: …’ Of course ‘praise unto our God’ in public worship refers to the Psalter as this site so well demonstrates.

    There is no need to get tripped up with the word ‘new’ in new song, since apart from referring to the composition of praise songs in the Psalms, it reflects on the ‘old’ sorry songs we once sang. Spurgeon wrote: ‘… The song is for Jehovah alone. The hymns which chanted the praises of Jupiter and Neptune, Vishnoo and Siva are hushed forever; Bacchanalian shouts are silenced, lascivious sonnets are no more. Unto the one only God all music is to be dedicated. Mourning is over, and the time of singing of hearts has come. …’

    Go to the new and deliciously different lyrics of the Psalter and find there the very words which will thrill your heart and give your mind words which it and Jehovah Jesus will not find more fitting and satisfying anywhere else. Go to them again another time and find the very words new once more, fresh with new discoveries of your soul’s expression and fellowship with the Father.

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