It’s not my point here to detract from our brothers and sisters who hold to this view. In fact, I commend them in light of the worship wars that have taken place over the past 25 years concerning music. They have a very excellent solution to this problem.
But alas, I am not an exclusive psalmist, nor is Grace Presbyterian Church. We believe in the use of songs that have been written since the closing of the canon some 2,000 years ago, just as long as those songs are biblically accurate, of decent quality and able to sing by a congregation. Many songs done today by Christian Contemporary artist may be biblically accurate, and done well. But often times they fall short because those songs are designed to be sung by one or two people who are gifted in the area of singing. They fail in the latter category, in that they are not easy for a congregation to sing. Since this is the case we do not use them.
However, this is not the point of the article. The point of this section of the article is to show that we do have the freedom to sing songs other than Psalms from the Old Testament.
Paul writes in Colossians: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
By looking at these three terms, we can see that what Paul means is to include more than just the psalms. Here in our passage we have three terms in the text that are used: the first is term that we get for Psalms and indicates those songs which are found in the Old Testament. This we hold to be right on when it comes to Scripture. We are to learn the psalms and sing them to God’s glory.
The second term is what we have translated for hymns. This word can overlap with the first one, meaning that it could be also referring to Psalms, where they are being sung. So when Paul and Silas were signing Psalms in prison, they were actually “hymning to God.”
But it cold also mean the songs found in the New Testament and expand that which we sing to the Magnificat and the Benedictus found in the Gospel of Luke.
It helps to understand that according to Augustine, the hymn has three essential elements. First, it must be sung; secondly, it must be praise, thirdly it must be to God. I would add fourthly, it must be true to Scripture (not just mildly, some way, sort of kind of refer to Scripture in an esoteric sort of way).
That is a good working definition to a hymn and those songs found in the NT. If it meets those qualifications, then it’s hymn. I’m trusting that whatever is sung is theologically accurate.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching…
That assumes sound doctrine. We cannot allow the word of Christ dwell richly in our hearts if that which we sing is not theologically accurate, or sound doctrine.
The final term, which is translated: spiritual songs, is where the door opens up to what we sing. The Greek word there can be translated as an ode, which is a poem that is meant to be sung. It can be any poem. But we are not given that much freedom. Because of the term we get the word “spiritual” for, it means a spiritual ode.
This word occurs in Ephesians 5:19, the sister passage to this one, and Revelation 15:3, where the term “new song” is indicated.
Here, we see that we can see songs that are spiritually true, but not necessarily found in the Bible. Of course, there is where we get into dangers as I have said before. Many people believe that it means if we come up with a song in the spirit, or a spirit, that it even remotely alludes to Jesus in some distance, esoteric sort of way, that it must be good and we must sing it.
No, lets makes sure that what we sing is true, accurate and sound. The point of Paul here is that these songs we sing are to help the word dwell richly in us. This means that it should be settled in us, or be God’s truth that is a settled abode.
This is what we want with God’s word, to dwell in us richly.
In view of that, I believe that we can open the door to songs not found in Scripture, but written since the closing of the canon. But those songs must be singable, true, and well done