- Beautiful to the ear
- Challenging to the mind
- Faithful to the Bible, the Creeds and the Confessions
- Expressing heart-felt penitence, praise and petition
- Honoring the deepest traditions of both the old and new covenants
- Shared vigorously by the whole congregation
- Utilizing primarily the gifts that all Christians possess, their voices
- Offered only for the glory of God
This is not to dismiss other types of music, but the conduct of our worship must be holy; separate from other styles such that we know what God's house is supposed to sound like, and when we enter that house we are prepared to share our musical gift and to receive the musical gift of every fellow Christian.
Where should we find and how should we learn psalm-sung music?
- To most modern churches, psalm singing is a lost tradition, but to an earlier generation it was the way by which we honored the fact that this is the way the patriarchs worshiped, even Jesus Christ himself. It is also the way that youths were introduced to the faith. Today psalm singing, especially a cappella, is once again demonstrating its ability to accomplish both these purposes. Sites like thepsalmsung.org demonstrate that congregations are learning that they don't have to use dumbed-down modern lyrics and melodies to satisfy the musical hunger of their young people. Listen for yourself to the sound of real churches having vibrant modern worship a cappella style; psalm singing that is compatible with the form of worship Anglicans aspire to, namely 'Common Prayer'.
- As for books, Crown & Covenant Publications is the place to go. They publish books, electronic books and recorded music for psalm singing congregations. Specifically, their offerings include the Trinity Psalter, the Book of Psalms for Worship and the Book of Psalms for Singing.
Does an Anglo-Reformed church have to be exclusively an a cappella psalm singing church? Of course not. This memo is written for parishes overwhelmed by the task of assembling and maintaining a high quality music ministry, but there is nothing inherently wrong with instruments or man-made lyrics provided that the principles of Christian music worship outlined above are not lost in the process. Indeed, if instruments are used to promote those principles then they may be indispensable.
The traditional hymns of the Church, like the traditional prayers of the Church, are not to be dismissed. To achieve the goals set forth by our worship music principles, they really must be included in the musical diet of every Anglo-Reformed church, whether arising from the traditions of chant or from the great modern hymn writers. Two of the best sources for Reformed hymns and liturgical chants are the Trinity Hymnal and the 1940 Hymnal respectively. The former is weak on liturgical chant and the latter is weak on Reformed theology, but between the two one can assemble a collection of music that fully reflects the Anglo-Reformed point of view.