Exclusive Psalmody

Singing God’s Word Exclusively

The use of the Psalms in worship is the divine text, the God-appointed song book, that God gave His church to worship Him for all time. This was the view of the Reformers and Puritans. The 1647 Westminster Standards is an exclusive psalmody document, which holds unswervingly to the regulative principle of worship. The Regulative Principle was a cornerstone of the early church, the Reformation, and the Puritans, and must be recovered today.

The Puritans worshipped God using the Psalms, and the Psalms alone. They did not allow the musical instruments of the ceremonial law to pervade their worship, but instead, kept to the simplicity that is found in the New Testament as what is known as “congregational singing.” Old Testament ceremonial worship was primarily done by the Levitical priests instituted by David and Solomon under God’s direct command for that time. The Westminster Assembly used the Psalms as the divinely inspired songbook for the church. Their view, expounded in teh Directory for Public Worship, was that the Psalms are “the” Manuel of God’s ordained Praise of Himself, which is to be accomplished by the Church.

The Westminster Confession of Faith reflects this view:

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXI
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day

Paragraph 5:

The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching [18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]

  1. Luke 4:16-17; Acts 15:21; Col. 4:16; I Thess. 5:27; Rev. 1:3
  2. II Tim. 4:2; Acts 5:42
  3. James 1:22; Acts 10:33; Matt. 13:19; Heb. 4:2; Isa. 66:2
  4. Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; James 5:13; I Cor. 14:15
  5. Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 11:23-29; Acts 2:42
  6. Deut. 6:13; Neh. 10:29; II Cor. 1:23
  7. Psa. 116:14; Isa. 19:21; Eccl. 5:4-5
  8. Joel 2:12; Est. 4:16; Matt. 9:15; Acts 14:23
  9. Exod. 15:1-21; Psa. 107:1-43; Neh. 12:27-43; Est. 9:20-22
  10. Heb. 12:28.

Books on Psalmody

Reformed and Puritan printed works on corporate worship can be found HERE.