(These communications from classes and a consistory came before the 1928 synod of the Christian Reformed Church. In connection with a longer overture from Classis Grand Rapids East, these documents set the stage for the discussion that would ultimately lead to the publication of the CRC’s first Psalter Hymnal in 1934. Some of the translation is based on the 1930 “Report on the Hymn Question”; the rest is the product of Google Translate.)

Classis Hackensack overtures Synod to take steps to procure a collection of hymns which may be used in our divine worship. Grounds:

a) The introduction of a collection of hymns in our divine worship does not conflict with any fundamental principle laid down in the Word of God;

b) It is fitting that the New Testament Church should make use of songs expressive of the work of redemption in New Testament language;

c) Synod can lay down rules determining the extent of the use of hymns to prevent the possibility of their crowding out the use of the Psalms.

(Classis Hackensack.)

Aangezien er eene begeerte in de kerken is, om meer gezangen in onzen eeredienst te zingen en, aangezien het een liturgisch vraagstuk is, dat beslist moet worden door de kerken saam in meerdere verga dering, zoo verzoekt Classis Hudson de Synode, eer ze op deze zaak ingaat, eene Commissie te benoemen om dit vraagstuk in te denken, historisch en principieel, en op de volgende Synode te rapporteeren.1

(Classis Hudson.)

De Classis Pella vraagt de Synode: De Synode benoeme eene Commissie om grondige studie te maken van de vraag of Art. 60 K. O. behoort gewijzigd te worden door het besluit van invoering van een bundel gezangen voor onze openbare eeredienst. De Classis is van oordeel dat invoering van zulk een bundel gezangen zeer ongewenscht is, daar er gevaar is dat de gezangen spoedig de overhand zullen krijgen, doch meent dat het gewenscht is dat er grondige studie van deze zaak worde gemaakt met het oog op de begeerte van sommige gemeenten om gezangen in te voeren.2

(Classis Pella.)

Inasmuch as there is a manifest desire in several of our churches for the singing of more hymns in public worship; and, inasmuch as there is an evident difference of opinion among us on this subject, Classis Grand Rapids West overtures Synod to appoint a committee to make a thorough study, both from a theoretical and practical viewpoint, of this important matter.

(Classis Grand Rapids West.)

De Classis sluit zich aan bij het verzoek van Classis Grand Rapids West, om een commissie te benoemen, die grondige studie zal maken van het vraagstuk der gezangeninvoering, om dan op een volgende Synode te rapporteeren.3

(Classis Pacific.)

Classis overtures Synod to appoint a committee to work out a plan to secure suitable songs or hymns for public worship.

(Classis Ostfriesland.)

De Classis verzoekt de Synode een commissie te benoemen die het invoeren van hymns, historisch, principieel en practisch onderzoeke, ten einde de Synode van 1930 met rapport en advies te dienen. Dit rapport worde in beide talen uitgegeven en in brochure vorm kosteloos verkrijgbaar gesteld.4

(Classis Sioux Center.)

De Synode spreke uit dat het niet wenschelijk is gezangen in onzen openbaren eeredienst in te voeren. Gronden:

a) De geschiedenis heeft bewezen dat de invoering van gezangen eerst het achteruit zetten der Psalmen en daarna hun schier geheele verdwijning uit den eeredienst tengevolge heeft;

b) De gezangen kunnen nooit de plaats innemen van de Psalmen, daar de gezangen altijd over het leven van Gods volk spreken, terwijl de Psalmen uit het geestelijk leven opkomen;

c) De berijming der Psalmen, alhoewel zelve niet geinspireerd, berust toch op het geinspireerde Woord, hetwelk van de gezangen niet gezegd kan worden;

d) Verreweg de meeste van de thans bestaande gezangen (in de Engelsche taal) zijn met het Arminianisme als doorzuurd. Het gevaar van met de gezangen deze verderfelijke leer de Kerk binnen te dragen is verre van denkbeeldig!

e) Indien onze huidige berijming der Psalmen in onzen “Psalter” niet voldoende het Nieuw-Testamentische licht op de Psalmen laat vallen, dan ligt de remedie niet in het invoeren van gezangen, maar in een betere berijming; en

f) Het invoeren van meer gezangen in onzen eeredienst zou tegenwoordig onrust in onze kerken veroorzaken.5

(Classis Zeeland.)

To the Synod, gathering June 13, 1928, in Holland, Mich.

Esteemed fathers and brothers:–

The Consistory of the Christian Reformed Church of Colton, So. Dak., advises the Synod not to introduce hymns into our public worship. Grounds:

(1) God’s Word teaches us that we may not remove the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set. Because they were opposed to the singing of hymns in public worship, they struggled and suffered;

(2) God has given and revealed everything to us in His Word. Also for singing He gave us such an abundant treasure of inspired psalms and songs of praise that there is no occasion, no spiritual state for which this treasure does not provide.

(3) With the introduction of more hymns comes the danger that the psalms will be relegated to the background.

C.J. Scholten and Arie Van der Lugt protest this instruction [i.e. not to introduce hymns], because they think that the introduction of some hymns which can be used especially on our Christian Holidays, and whose content is drawn from the New Testament, would be conducive to public worship.

L. A. VAN DUYN, Clerk.

Colton, South Dakota.

Source: Agenda for Synod 1928 of the Christian Reformed Church, Part II, pp. 32-34. Available online from CRCNA Agenda and Acts of Synod, Hekman Library, Calvin College


  1. “Since there is a desire in the churches to sing more hymns in our worship, and as it is a liturgical issue that must be decided by the Churches together in multiple assemblies, so Classis Hudson requests Synod, before she enters on this matter, to appoint a committee to think on this matter, historically and on principle, and to report on it at the next Synod.”
  2. “Classis Pella requests the Synod to appoint a Committee to make a thorough study of the question whether Art. 60 [sic] of the Church Order should be amended to introduce a collection of hymns for our public worship. The Classis believes that the introduction of such a collection of songs is highly undesirable, as there is danger that the songs [hymns] will soon take precedence, but believes it desirable that a thorough study of this matter may be made in view of the desire of some churches to introduce hymns.”
  3. “The Classis joins the request of Classis Grand Rapids West to appoint a commission to make a thorough study of the problem of hymn introduction, and to report at the next Synod.”
  4. “The Classis asks the Synod to appoint a committee on the introduction of hymns, to explore the matter historically, on principle, and practically, and to report and submit advice to Synod 1930. This report might be in both languages and published in booklet form free of charge.”
  5. “[Classis Zeeland overtures Synod] That Synod declare that it is advisable not to introduce hymns into our public worship. Grounds: (a) History has proven that the introduction of hymns has caused first a decline in [the singing of] Psalms and after that, almost their entire disappearance from worship; (b) Hymns can never take the place of the Psalms, as hymns always speak about the life of God’s people, whereas the Psalms arise out of the spiritual life; (c) The rhyming [i.e. metrical versions] of the Psalms, though itself not inspired, is nevertheless based on the inspired Word, which cannot be said of hymns; (d) The vast majority of the hymns currently in existence (in the English language) are leavened with Arminianism. The danger this pernicious doctrine might bring the Church in the hymns is far from imaginary! (e) If our present rhyming of the Psalms in our ‘Psalter’ does not shed enough New Testament light on the Psalms, then the remedy does not lie in introducing hymns, but in a better rhyming; and (f) The introduction of more hymns in our worship today would cause unrest in our churches.”

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