I continue to wonder why the Psalms are not used more often in corporate worship. They cover the entire spectrum of human emotion in worship; they rehearse Christ’s saving work, death, resurrection, and glorification; they contain themes of repentance, forgiveness, joy, praise, and awe; and they are songs which are inspired by God written for our use! Why wouldn’t we want to sing them more often? Contemporary praise choruses like the ones I’ve recently reviewed and yes, even old hymns of the faith pale in comparison.
I’m not an exclusive psalmist (yet?), but when we have 150 Holy Spirit-inspired texts to use in worship, why wouldn’t the church at least sing mostly Psalms? Instead of singing man-written hymns and songs with an occasional Psalm thrown in, I think a more biblical ratio should be mostly Psalms with an occasional man-written hymn or song thrown in. When I hear/sing many of the “positive, encouraging” contemporary praise choruses or even some of the overly-individual/emotional/experiential revival hymns of the 1800s, they just seem so radically inferior to the Psalms. This isn’t snobbery, because shouldn’t the inspired Scripture trump man-written texts? When we’ve been given a rich hymnbook in the book of Psalms and are commanded to sing them, why settle for less?
As a somewhat related aside, I’m not exactly sure about splitting our selection of music into that which is appropriate for corporate worship and other Christian music that is appropriate during other occasions. The question I have is, If a bad praise chorus or sketchy old hymn is not appropriate for corporate worship (especially if it is either not orthodox or insignificant), then why would it be appropriate for personal or family worship, to name just two other possibilities? Shouldn’t we always want to ascribe to God our best?
Another similar question is that of just listening to music. We should strive to be good listeners of music as well as striving to give God right worship. Being a good listener means being an active listener, discerning good from bad. I strongly believe that God bestows gifts to believers and unbelievers alike, as evidenced in the plethora of fantastic musicians who are far from God. Not that their music is appropriate for corporate worship, but there is a sense that we can enjoy good music while giving the glory to God for bestowing His gifts to his creation. But not all music is good (and not all music is music), and not all Christian music is good. Just because it’s “Christian” or played on a “Christian” station does not mean it’s good and pleasing to God.