Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Everything Old is New Again

John Kennedy of Dingwall spoke at the 1872 General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland against uninspired hymnody and had this to say about the oft-cited (his day and ours) complaint against the Psalms (notwithstanding Luke 24.44) that the greater light of the New Testament has superseded the Psalter's sufficiency for the Church (quoted by Alexander Auld, The Life of John Kennedy, D.D. (1887), p. 137ff; and by Malcolm H. Watts, God's Hymnbook for the Christian Church (2003), p. 44):

The Lord gave a psalmody of old. True, it was given under the former dispensation; but could not the Lord give then what would be suitable in all ages? Can men uninspired do now better than He did then? Does not its completeness prove that it was not be superseded? What view of God's character is not unfolded in the Psalms? What aspect of His providence is not presented in them? What special dealing with His church, individually or collectively, is not celebrated? What phase of spiritual feeling, from the deepest groan of agony and helplessness to the highest ecstasy of triumphant joy, is not expressed? And have we not in the Psalms the grand facts of redemption in historic form? The coming, the death, the resurrection, the ascension of Christ, are set before us in the form it is meet the New Testament should sing of them. If we have this psalmody from the Lord's own hand, and if it be complete, and if it presents the materials for praise in the form best adapted to our circumstances, what more do we require? This sufficed for the Old Testament church, and with all the light of the New Testament shining upon its songs, it surely ought to suffice for us..."The New Testament has outgrown the Psalms," say some; "her further light puts them out of date." Have you that further light? If so bring it to the Psalms, and use it as a help to sing them with the understanding; and the more you do so, I venture to assure you that you will meet with depths that you cannot sound, and with heights of attainment in faith and feeling which you are weak to climb.

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