Baptists Initiate Congregational Hymn Singing


JM has a great post today on the role Baptists had in initiating congregational hymn singing into worship service. The key figure in this movement was, of course, our hero, Benjamin Keach. Read the post HERE.

In the US, Philadelphia Baptists added a chapter on hymn singing to the Baptist Confession of Faith in 1742. This chapter reads as follows:

We believe that singing the praises of God, is a holy ordinance of Christ, and not a part of natural religion, or a moral duty only; but that it is brought under divine institution, it being enjoined on the churches of Christ to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; and that the whole church in their public assemblies (as well as private Christians) ought to sing God’s praises according to the best light they have received. Moreover, it was practiced in the great representative church by our Lord Jesus Christ with His disciples, after He had instituted and celebrated the sacred ordinance of His holy supper, as a commemorative token of redeeming love.

I find “according to the best light they have received” to be a direct response to exclusive Psalm singers.

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6 thoughts on “Baptists Initiate Congregational Hymn Singing

  1. Assuming you are right about the intention of that statement, do you really think the light of Christian poets and hymn composers was or is superior to the inspired hymnal of Scripture? Not looking to start an argument, just raising a question that has been very compelling to me.

    Best regards,
    Brian Myers

    • I hear you RE. I’ve thought about it some, myself…

      I certainly don’t mean to say that a modern hymn writer is inspired – I just want to make that clear. The Psalms ARE inspired, the hymns are not. However, the Psalms only have but a foreshadowing of Christ to come. Many of the Psalms are written within the context of, say, David fleeing for his life from Saul. This is not the same as to sing the praises of the Christ who died on the cross for my sins and bore the guilt and shame for me, was buried, rose to life, and will one day return to raise me, bodily, to live with him forever! This is what our faith is built on and what our message is about – shouldn’t it be what we sing about?

      Another way of viewing would be to ask oneself the question: what is the most important part of the worship service? I would say the preaching of the Word of God. However, if we only accept inspired worship, the pastor should only read portions of Scripture, rather than expositing them, because the scripture alone is inspired, not the pastors words.

      We don’t expect this though. We understand that the pastors uninspired words, so long as they agree with the Word of God, are used by the Holy Spirit to illumine the Scripture and to work in the hearts of believers. So too, when we sing hymns that agree with the Word of God, they build us up in our faith.

      Exclusive Psalmody may perhaps be another form of Judaizing, which the Apostle Paul warned us about in Galatians. If circumcision is to fall from the grace of Christ, why must we be bound to the Psalms?

      By the way, I’ve never sung the Psalms, but I’d like to get a copy of the 1650 Psalter and work through them. I just simply think we are leaving out the full light and glory of Christ by singing the type versus the antitype.

      What do you think?

  2. Pingback: The Teachings of Benjamin Keach | Abraham's Seed

  3. Pingback: Benjamin Keach Roundup: Catechism, Congregational Hymn Singing, Bio + More – Andrew Suttles | The Confessing Baptist

  4. Pingback: Benjamin Keach’s Articles of Faith, 1697 | Abraham's Seed

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