Last summer, my co-author Jim Oord wrote an article introducing our readers to a denomination with which the United Reformed Churches in North America enjoy Phase 2 ecumenical relations: the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. (In layman’s terms, this simply means that our doctrines, practices, and worship styles are very compatible.) The RPCNA is a notable denomination for many reasons, not least their practice of exclusive psalmody. Reformed Presbyterians sing only the Psalms in public worship (from an excellent modern psalter, The Book of Psalms for Worship), and they do so without any instrumental accompaniment.
Needless to say, Jim’s post generated plenty of comments and not a little controversy. However, the point we wanted to convey most of all was not that one denomination is better than the other, but that the RPCNA has an incredible commitment to learning, singing, and loving the psalms which we might do well to emulate. Hymns or no hymns, the Reformed Presbyterians’ ability to sing the psalms in full four-part harmony, often from memory, is downright incredible.
Today’s Featured Recording on URC Psalmody is an example of such excellent psalmody. During the 180th synod of the RPCNA, the delegates gathered on the stage of the Indiana Wesleyan University auditorium and belted out Psalm 100, “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” (a similar version can be found in the blue Psalter Hymnal, number 195). Just listen to the heartfelt singing and glorious harmonies:
Indeed, whether or not we agree with our Reformed Presbyterian brethren on the exclusive use of the psalms in worship, this recording ought to inspire us to recommit to a manner of worship that prioritizes the Psalter as the songbook given by God directly to his people. It’s the most important worship music decision we’ll ever make.
For more Reformed Presbyterian psalm-singing resources, check the links on our page on The Book of Psalms for Worship.