Taken from an old post on Jim Jordan, with some new material.
But let us consider what a Christian view of the Church would be. It would be a place of transformation, not merely of information. Marshaling the people into an army of psalm chanters would be at the top of the list. Indeed, in seminary several psalms would be chanted every day in chapel. The music in the church would be loud, fast, vigorous, instrumental, martial. There would be real feasts. People would be taught that when God splashes water on you, He’s really doing something: He’s putting you into His rainbow.
I should like to offer what I regard as a considerable caveat. I do not believe that men who sing pop choruses or plodding Trinity Hymnal songs on Sunday can get very far into Luther or Calvin, or for that matter Turretin. Men whose personal opinion is that society can be left to the devil cannot really get into the outlook of the Reformers.
I submit that it is important to have some feel for what people were singing and how they were singing it at various times in history. Is it a coincidence that “Reformed scholasticism” began to develop at the same time that the fiery dance-like chorales and psalms of the Reformation began to die down into slow, plodding, even-note mush? It is a coincidence that the “Puritans” had problems with assurance of salvation, given their destruction of enthusiastic singing? I don’t think so. People who sing the psalms as real war chants, as war dances that precedebattle, don’t have problems with assurance and don’t have time for scholasticism. Neither do people with strong, fully-sung liturgies.
EO guys used to attack me on assurance. “Well, how can you know?” Well, there you have it.
2 thoughts on “An Army of Psalm Chanters”
I think Jordan goes way overboard in ascribing significance to psalm-singing/chanting, but he highlights something that is sadly true. There is no where around me where acapella, or lightly accompanied (therefore, no blasting organs or rock-band set ups), is the order of worship. Even with EO congregations, they have a professional choir that sings the liturgy, the rest of the congregation seems dead.
He does go overboard. That’s partly what makes it fun. Your observations are correct on all counts.