Our Stand on Music

Dear Editor

I feel constrained to write you in regard to your editorial as found in the January issue re Our Stand on Music.

Upon reading your first paragraph I held my breath and thought, Oh! Oh! Now what? Such high expressions of praise, and bold reasons for pride. They, verily, recall to me the hate Hoeksema campaign of the De Wolf faction. They, too, addressed the innocent, trusting soul, whom they meant to victimize with high sounding words of praise for the Rev. H. Hoeksema, and then proceed to upbraid him with all kinds of wicked, malicious slander, to the intent, that that soul be converted from Rev. H. Hoeksema.

But wait! Do we pride ourselves in that our belief is logical and free of emotional influences of man? Not so me. Rather, I find, in myself at least, humble thanksgiving to God for the truth that He has revealed to us through the Rev. H. Hoeksema.

In your second paragraph you assert boldly to the effect that we may not sing any other songs than those of the Psalter. This to my mind is not so. The Sunday Schools and Choral Societies of our denomination and the Radio Choir in the past, have rendered many a program with music other than from the Psalter. No, we certainly are not belligerent to the good music that may be found outside the Psalter, as, to my mind, might be gathered from your editorial.

That the regulation of Article 69 of our Church Order is so illogical I fail to see. For, (1) The Book of Psalms, from which our Psalter is made up, is comprised of songs, hymns and prayers. All are divinely inspired by God, given us through different authors. What other book of the Bible can claim this distinction? None, of course. (2) Is the content of the Psalms different from the rest of the Bible? No, rather, they sing and pray of the truths that the other sixty-five books of the Bible, teach by historical account, prophecy, fulfillment of prophecy end disputation and logic. And that, too, very simply. How else could babes and sucklings understand, which they certainly do; therefore not by a complicated series of associated doctrines — this sounds like the wise and prudent — solemnly, and where appropriate with joyful gladness, not in any wise obscured by muted tones. I’m talking about Psalms, not New Testament songs. (3) I am confident, that, if the Old Testament Psalms were not entirely sufficient, which they are, God could have and would have added a book of New Testament Psalms. John, while on the Isle of Patmos, or Paul in his imprisonment, could have conveniently been inspired to this work it ems to me. God cares for, and in every respect fulfils His peoples every need abundantly. (Also see James 5:13). (4) Whenever we hear a discussion of Christ’s birth, death, resurrection or ascension, or of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, we are always reminded of the striking simplicity of the biblical account of these events. Why is it so simply told? Because, that no event should overshadow another, but rather, that each should serve to reveal the truth of God and His plan of salvation to His people. Article 69 is very logical, even more so today than when it was adopted.

Why is the Radio Choir confined to the Psalter in its broadcasts? (1) It was by direction of Classis — that should be sufficient. Classis has its own reasons and it is not the part or right of Beacon Lights, editorially or otherwise, to jeer or ridicule that body. Nor to present the church officers responsible for the musical portion of the broadcast as fanatics. That makes one wonder whether this editorial was really written in a spirit of love, as I would like to believe.

Should it be illogical, which it is not, as I have shown, to officially be limited to the Psalter, what other single song book could we, as Protestant Reformed, officially adopt? There is none. What then? Go through several different song books and list the approved songs in each? What a babel of confusion that would be, leading of course, to endless hairsplitting, of which we are falsely-accused by our enemies frequently. Quite unwittingly they do the hairsplitting — how else does one draw the line between untruth and untruth? We abide by the Truth wherein together with the Psalms, we enjoy the highest freedom that can be attained to here below. But there is one other alternative. A new song book. That would be a tremendous expense, for in my mind, an insignificant gain.

No! Rather, dear editor, much rather, had you used your high office to instill into our young people a keen desire to learn the Psalms as found in the Psalter by heart. That first. They all, without exception can do that very profitably, that is Scriptural. Second: They could organize into men, women and mixed groups with the sole intent that they learn to sing them, as written — not adapting them to different tunes — harmoniously. — Hope Protestant Reformed of Grand Rapids and the Radio Choir has shown that it can be done — fittingly and with good diction, This, I am sure, would vastly improve the congregational singing. And what better thing could they be busied with than their spiritual upbuilding? Give our young people editorials that have that goal so tending to establish the peace of the Church, abiding by decency and order. Not that they be a law unto themselves as this editorial might tend to teach.


Jim Dykstra