Tag Archives: book reviews

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.

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Exploring Psalms by Tom Mann

Tom Mann Exploring PsalmsI received a copy of Exploring Psalms a few months ago by Tom Mann available here. I had intended to get it read before now, but it has been a busy summer this year! Here is a review by Amazon and some brief comments from me. Sorry for the long delay Tom!

From the Amazon site: “Exploring Psalms attempts to encourage an appreciation of the Book of Psalms in everyday Christians. The book covers the history of the writing of the Psalms, their usage through the times of the early church. Different genres of the psalms are discussed, including the imprecatory psalms. An emphasis is placed on the usage of the Psalms by Jesus, the Apostles and the early church. The book is suitable for both individual and group studies.” Amazon

This little book is a very helpful introduction to the Psalms. It has many facts and interesting observations along the way, including some useful charts that show the use of the Psalms in the New Testament. The book is divided into short lessons with discussion questions that would be well suited for a Sabbath School class or a small group of Christians who are becoming more familiar with the Psalms. Every chapter begins with an illustration that is always thought provoking, contemporary and applicable to the chapter at hand. Several of these illustrations are very powerful and stick with you! One in particular involved a very expensive painting that was hung in a prison and lost, always visible but rarely noticed. In addition to groups who want to learn more about the Psalms in general, I think this would be a good introduction for a group preparing to study the subject of exclusive Psalmody. It lays some of the foundation for the more difficult work of proving not only that we should sing the Psalms in worship, but that we should only sing the Psalms in worship.

Tom Mann

Tom Mann

“Tom Mann is a teacher, lawyer and mediator who has a love for the Book of Psalms. As a former English teacher who instilled an appreciation in literature to hundreds of students, he wants to share his passion for the jewel of the Scriptures, Yahweh’s songbook, in this little book. As a lawyer and mediator, he wants others to see how God’s law, love, mercy and grace are so beautifully unfolded in the Psalms as nowhere else in the Scriptures.”

Buy a copy! Lets support publications that promote the singing of Psalms. If you get a chance to read it, please post your thoughts below.

A review of Michael Lefebvre’s book “Singing the Songs of Jesus”

Rev. Malcolm Maclean of Greyfriars Free Church provides a review of Singing the Songs of Jesus. Here is a sample:

“This easily-read book by the best publisher provides an interesting approach to using the psalms. It is not a defence of exclusive psalmody (although the author wisely agrees with that view). Instead the book is about spiritual benefits that individuals and congregations will receive through using the Psalms in their worship services. Even at a basic level, the Psalms, because they are divinely inspired, inform us of the features that God wants us to sing about when we are worshipping him…

…Since Jesus sings the psalms with us, it means that in a sense the psalms are conversations with Jesus about various aspects of his person and work. The author explores this reality in chapters 3 and 4. When using the Psalms, sometimes we sing with the King about God and his ways, sometimes we sing to the King, and sometimes we sing to one another in the presence of the King. In the Psalms, we sing about his deity, his humanity, his birth, his life, his love of God’s law, his atoning death, his resurrection, his ascension, his exaltation, his kingdom, his return, his role as Judge, his role as Priest, his role as Prophet, his role as Shepherd, and many other facets of his person and work. The author here helped me understand further how Paul could in Colossians 3 equate the communal singing of ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ with the ‘word of Christ’…
  
…In this short book of 160 pages, we have a good summary of the theology (purpose) of the Psalms. The author provides clear principles for interpreting the Psalms in a Christ-centred way and shows us how we can develop a precious intimacy with the King through ongoing usage of the Psalms. Using them in public worship is a God-given way of exalting King Jesus as we see him fulfil his role as Leader of the praise of God’s people.”
  
The full review can be found here  
  
The book can be purchased here  
  
Thanks to Scott Maciver for bringing the book and review to our attention.  
  
Further reviews from the publisher…

“This book powerfully reminds us that the church has for too long ignored a vibrant source of devotion-the song book of Jesus…we can’t afford to neglect this divinely inspired song book that God has given us.” Donald W. Sweeting ~ President Professor of Church History, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“This book should admirably fulfil the author’s purpose by forcing those who have rejected or neglected the psalms in their praise to think again. Its central theory (that the psalms consist of praise conversations between God, his Messiah and his people) should help to illuminate the status of the psalter as the New Covenant song book it was meant to be and sheds much needed light on such dark areas as the imprecatory (cursing) psalms. If you have never sung the psalms and would like good biblical rather than historical reasons for doing so, and, crucially, if you want the key to understanding what you sing, you should really read this book .” Kenneth Stewart ~ Minister of Dowanvale Free Church of Scotland, Glasgow

“It has been wisely said that the Psalter is a spiritual cardiograph. The Psalms accurately reflect our spiritual health. The more I am ‘at home’ in singing the Psalms, the spiritually fitter I am. Uniquely in the Bible, the Psalms both speak to us – Luther derived much of his theology from the Psalter, – and also speak for us. They are the God-given words with which we can address both our Heavenly Father and each other. Michael LeFebvre’s book is both scholarly and readable, and provides a wonderful incentive to ‘Sing the Psalms, again’.” Jonathan Fletcher ~ Vicar of Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon, London

“Speaking to God in words that He has chosen, with the breadth and depth of topics He has revealed, instead of singing about Him, would enrich our worship. Yes, it will prove a learning experience for our congregations, but the dimensional richness the Psalms afford would be well worth the effort.” John D. Hannah ~ Distinguished Professor of Historical Theology, Research Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

“In this volume Michael LeFebvre enriches the church with wisdom regarding the vital role that singing the Psalms has in the worship of the church and the life of the believer. Michael avoids the hard edged heated opinions which often cloud this subject and instead casts refreshing pastoral light on a much neglected topic. All readers of this volume will be edified, educated and blessed!” Anthony T. Selvaggio ~ preacher, author and Visiting professor of Biblical Studies at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania