Dear Brother in Christ: I do not like to disagree with our professor, but in this case I may not be silent. I must disagree with your recommendation of hymns for the youth schools. (Book Reviews, Standard Bearer, Jan. 15, 1967).
According to Article 69 and 86 of our Church Order, we may not recommend hymns in our schools. We must teach our children to sing the songs of the Psalter in order that they can sing along in our worship services on Sunday.
If we recommend hymns in our schools we can only expect more clamoring for hymns to be sung in our churches.
History teaches us that churches who have introduced hymns no longer sing the Psalms, or at best, sing them but very little.
The Presbyterian Church from whom we are using many numbers in our Psalter, do not sing the Psalms. The Reformed Church of America used to sing only the Psalms and they do not sing them any more. The Christian Reformed Church introduced hymns into their Christian Schools when I was in the eighth grade. A few years later they were introduced into their churches. History proves the results. The Psalms are sung very little in this church today.
Oh, how the devil would like to turn us away from singing the Psalms! The devil knows history tool He knows that once introduced, the singing of hymns would quickly replace the singing of Psalms.
God forbid that we should go a hankering after the songs of churches who are departing from the truth. Let us not be discontent with the spiritual were discontent with God’s manna. Let us be content with the songs that God has given to the Church. God gave us great men to write our wonderful creeds; men with wisdom and foresight to write our Church Order to safeguard God’s church.
Your editor is always happy to hear from readers of the Standard Bearer, even, —I am almost inclined to say: especially, — when they disagree.
To refresh the readers’ memory and for accuracy’s sake, let me quote the recommendation to which you refer in your letter: “With the exception of a few questionable selections, this book can find good use, both in our schools and in our homes, where, incidentally, family and group singing has become too much of a lost art.”
For my part, this recommendation will stand. And without entering into a Jong and detailed debate with brother Huisken, I will briefly call attention to the following points:
1. Article 69 of the Church Order says nothing about singing hymns in our schools and homes. It refers only to our singing in our church services. To my knowledge, no one has ever interpreted this article as saying anything about what we sing in our homes and schools.
2. While I have great love and respect for our “Psalter” and fully subscribe to its use in our churches, I would caution against equating manmade versifications of the Psalms with the Psalms themselves. The latter are inspired; the former are no more inspired than any Scriptural hymn. I mention this because brother Huisken repeatedly speaks of the Psalms. Strictly speaking, we do not sing the Psalms, but man-made (and in some cases, inaccurate) versifications of the Psalms.
3. I also believe that at school and at home our children should learn to sing from our “Psalter,” but not exclusively. There is a great wealth of good, sound Scriptural music (hymns, anthems, cantatas, oratorios) from which we would not benefit if we tie ourselves down to the “Psalter.”
4. In my opinion (and, incidentally, I sang hymns both at home and in school not only from the 8th grade on, but from kindergarten on), the solution does not lie in a flat ban on music other than the “Psalter,” as brother Huisken seems to suggest, but rather in the proper exercise of discretion and discernment by parents and in the teaching of proper discretion and discernment to our children.
5. Meanwhile, I am quite content with Article 69 of the Church Order for our churches, – not because it insists on psalm-singing as a principle (for this it evidently does not do), but as a wise and practical regulation for the music in our church services. In conclusion: write again sometime, brother. And don’t hesitate to disagree with your professor. He is also but a fallible man. And besides, you are also a prophet!