Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Original Baptists were Exclusive Psalmists

We worshipped with Emmanuel Church (Evangelical and Reformed) in Salisbury, a Calvinistic Baptist Church (1689 SLBCF) on our holidays, who are one of a few English churches that are Exclusive Psalmist (unaccompanied). We spent a pleasant Sabbath afternoon with Malcolm Watts, the pastor, and his wife, who graciously granted us hospitality.

In conversation with Mr Watts, he told me that many Baptists consider Salisbury to be almost semi-Presbyterian, but he pointed out that they were ignorant of original Baptist belief. The original Baptists were Exclusive Psalmist and the first Baptist to introduce man-made hymns was Benjamin Keach (in 1685, I think). (By the way, when he tried to introduce hymns, his congregation first of all overruled him and then later split.)

He also pointed out that consistent adherents of the 1689 SLBCF must be Exclusive Psalmists, just like consistent adherents of the WCF, as they were all Exclusive Psalmists at the time (apart from benjamin Keach, clearly). Note, however, that the 1689 uses the phrase "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord", where the WCF says, "singing of psalms with grace in the heart". Note that the 1689 has chosen to use a more Scriptural phrase. As Mr Watts pointed out, the argument wasn't over psalms-only versus man-made hymns, but whether the Psalms should be sung at all because metrical versions have to deviate slightly from the best prose translation.

I asked about John Bunyan. It turns out that he, like some 19th Century Presbyterians, produced Christian songs as poetry and never used them in worship as such.

By the way, as I understand it, 1820 was the year that a Baptist church first used musical instruments in worship. (See posts here and here.)


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy to see you posting again. I am still pondering the use of such songs beyond that given in scripture.

You say the baptists split? How so Baptist of them!

I understand that your denomination is exclusively psalm singers, but in other Protestants denominations in Europe, what do that do?

Monday, June 30, 2008 1:33:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


We have been on holidays and I hope to get back to some blogging on Modalism.

In this case it was a particular congregation that was split. Sadly all denominations and many congregations have either experienced a split or are the product of one (e.g. the Pentecostals split over the introduction of "Oneness" theology in 1913).

A number of Presbyterian denominations in the U.K. are exclusive-Psalmists as are certain Dutch Reformed (i.e. Continental term for Presbyterian) denominations, and maybe others that I am unaware of.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 6:02:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy said...

Hi Tim,
I appreciate your conviction on being an exclusive psalmist, but you need to be careful on the issue. When you set it up as the end all be all to worship, it can become more of an idol of righteousness. Christ is where our righteousness comes from, not the standard of being exclusive psalmist or not.

Thursday, July 03, 2008 5:24:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


With respect for your office, we all need to be careful about the accusations we make.

When did I "set it up as the end all be all to worship", or make it "become more of an idol of righteousness", or suggest in any way that it is not the case that "Christ is where our righteousness comes from, not the standard of being exclusive psalmist or not"? When did I imply or suggest such things, or even give the hint that I was in danger of that?

It is right to give warnings when they are needed, but if I warned you, for example, to be careful not to trust in your own works for salvation, if you called me to pursue godliness, would that be the right response to the exhortation, or would it not be somewhat offensive?

In love, your brother in Christ,


Thursday, July 03, 2008 10:50:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy said...

Fair enough. Forgive me for over stepping my bounds and assuming the case implied.

Friday, July 04, 2008 2:16:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


I gladly forgive you. Your humble apology glorifies God. God grant us all (inc. myself) the grace to be careful in our communications, esp. any accusations.

If you want, I can delete these comments.

Friday, July 04, 2008 2:40:00 pm  

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