Jonathan Edwards Wants Us To Sing New Songs
My church is hosting a songwriting workshop this Saturday and that encourages me greatly. I am so incredibly thankful to be a part of a church that incorporates the arts and takes seriously the imperatives to sing to Him a new song (Ps. 33:3; 96:1; 98:1;149:1; Is. 42:10; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). But what of the Psalter? Shouldn’t we prefer to sing the inspired words of Scriptures rather than traversing the pages of the Bible to songs composed by mere uninspired men? I will allow Jonathan Edwards answer this objection:
But what is more especially found fault with, in the singing that is now practiced, is making use of hymns of human composure. I am far from thinking that the book of Psalms should be thrown by in our public worship, but that it should always be used in the Christian church to the end of the world: but I know of no obligation we are under to confine ourselves to it. I can find no command or rule of God’s word that does any more confine us to the words of the Scripture in our singing, than it does in our praying; we speak to God in both. And I can see no reason why we should limit ourselves to such particular forms of words, that we find in the Bible, in speaking to him by way of praise, in metre, and with music, than when we speak to him in prose, by way of prayer and supplication. And it is really needful that we should have some other songs besides the Psalms of David. It is unreasonable to suppose that the Christian church should for ever, and even in times of her greatest light, in her praises of God and the Lamb, be confined only to the words of the Old Testament, wherein all the greatest and most glorious things of the gospel, that are infinitely the greatest subjects of her praise, are spoken of under a veil, and not so much as the name of our glorious Redeemer ever mentioned, but in some dark figure, or as hid under the name of some type.
Jonathan Edwards, “Thoughts On The Revival” from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 1:396.