Westminster Divines

Westminster Divines on Singing of Psalms

Today's Worship Quote looks at the use of the Psalter in the worship life of the Puritans (17th century). Remember, this comes from a time when relatively few people could read.

It is the duty of Christians to praise God publickly, by singing of Psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family. In singing of Psalms, the voice is to be tuneable and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be, to sing with understanding and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord. That the whole congregation may join herein, every one that can read is to have a Psalmbook; and all others not disabled by age or otherwise, are to be exhorted to learn to read. But for the present, it is convenient that the minister or some other fit person appointed by him and other ruling officers, do read the psalm, line by line, before the singing hereof.

- Directory for the Public Worship of God, Assembly of Divines meeting at Westminster, 1644; in Horton Davies The Worship of the English Puritans (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1997).


We've come a long way. It's interesting to me that the church leaders who authored these instructions were addressing many of the same issues that concern us today in our public worship: Why do we sing? What shall we sing? How shall we do it?

Have a great week!

To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.