English excerpt of Pastor Takiura's thesis in
Japan Evangelical Theological Society's 2004 Journal.
The Psalmody in the Public Worship of God
I. Positive Evidences to sing the Psalms exclusively in the public worship.
1) The Psalm is the God given Canon of praise. The process of compilation of the Old Testament Psalms as the Canon could be examined in the light of the recent trend of the Psalms study. Two main themes of the Psalms: Kingship of Messiah and his fulfilling Covenant as well as the theme of the temple are summarizing the Old Testament message at the post-exilic period, and these play the role as “the spring board” to make the people of God jump into the new era.
2) So the Psalms was prepared as a Canon to be the Praise for the worship of the age to come: Christ’s arrived New Testament time. It is not designed only for the temple, nor the synagogue, but for the New Testament church to sing a new song of His Kingship and Covenant. Here we must confess that the God of the Holy Spirit inspired and produced such precious tool for Christian a way before the time.
3) The New Testament era was the time to fulfill the prepared Psalm singing. Jesus himself led to use and sang the Psalms. And scriptural writers were deeply depending upon the Psalms for their confirmation of Christ and His Gospel. Use of the Psalms especially in singing was so common, that there was no need to prove it. But, there are several places in the New Testament, we find positive evidences; for example, three synonymic words for the praise in Col.3:16 and Eph.5:19 is, with serious syntactical and word study, proved to be the Psalms, and these passages not only encourage us, but also order to sing the Psalms.
4) From the time of the early age, the praise in the worship of the church had been basically the Psalms throughout the history of the Church. Especially the Greek church kept Psalms almost exclusively until 6th century. The Psalms was important basic qualification for the service of the church.
5) The Reformation had revived the Psalm singing as the God given pillar of the spirituality and liturgy. But after the 18th century of decay, such positive spirituality of the Kingship and Covenant of the world, as seen in the Psalms, had suffered in the crush between the idealistic liberalism and evangelical pietism, and the church eventually lost this treasure, the Psalms in modern times.
II. Passive Evidences to sing the Psalms exclusively in the public worship
1) The Regulative Principle of Worship is directly from God’s commandment(2nd) and governs the worship of God. Its spirit is not to please men but to please God. All sort of man made worship is forbidden as the idols. Our worship is not for ourselves, but for complete surrender of ourselves to God. So the worship should be regulated according to the principle that the things not ordered by God are forbidden.
2) But in applying this RPW concretely to some area of the worship, like the area of the worship praise, passive character of this RPW needs to be counted well. We should notice the logical tendency which RPW contains, and wisely use this precious tool for the direction of our worship.
3) Such RTW shows positive and decisive strength against the thing which God declares authoritative “No” from His ownership and lordship over the worship, or His kingship over the church. That is the things which are not ordered clearly in His word, but sneaked in the worship by human invention. Hymns and instruments are examples. Scriptural song other than the Psalms need special consideration, but is not ordered to sing in the worship specifically, though there were instances of its use in the church.
4) The way the early church found the composing and using of the human hymn in worship was, as in the record, efforts against the use of hymns by heretical movement. Before the 3rd century, there was practically no hymn book remained other than the Psalms. From 3rd century the church in general became loose in many sense, the councils needed to warn against the introduction of uninspired hymns repeatedly. In the West: Roman Catholic, the Bible was prohibited, singing was confined, and the human phrases were mixed to the praise. Luther used hymns for the movement, and it had influence among reformed churches as well. But Calvin dedicated to revive the Psalmody as the Biblical core of the liturgy.
5) In the age of decay, American colony started to sing paraphrases of the psalms, then evangelical and reformed gradually lost the Psalm singing. So even in this modern time, the need of the awareness of passive conclusion of RPW is all the more crucial.
III. The Importance of a cappella Psalmody for Church’s Spirituality and Liturgy
1) The Psalms is important for the Liturgy of the church as Calvin believed. In Geneva, Psalms and the Catechisms were the liturgy for people as the liturgy from the life.
2) The Liturgy is not of “liturgical”, but the education for the worship centered Life. The Prayer Book or Directory of Puritan shows how vast the scope of “public worship” was. Daily Psalmody was core liturgy in listening and singing His voice.
3) Minimizing the Liturgy into mere formality is the problem of ignoring such scope.
4) Ignoring of such Biblical Liturgy was accompanied by ignoring of the Psalms among modern protestant movements in the course of raise of evangelicalism in history.
5) Reviving of Biblical Liturgy now is impossible without the regular Psalm singing both in church and home, which was ordained by God as the foundation of church’s and eventually His kingdom’s spirituality.