I wonder if you realize how much your quarterly publication is admired. At classis I asked how many use it and was happy to see so many hands go up. Comments are so favorable, and you are making a nation-(continent?) wide impact. Thank you.
I must write to let you know how much I appreciated seeing the regulative principle of worship discussed in RW 11. While Presbyterian and Reformed people will continue to disagree on this matter, it is encouraging to know that it is being given the serious attention it deserves.
If I may be so bold as to suggest a proverbial "bottom line," it would be this: Quite apart from the biblical arguments in favor of the traditional formulation of the regulative principle (of which there are many), there is a logical one that is tremendously compelling. If the primary (though not exclusive) purpose of worship is to glorify and please God, then surely we need divine warrant for the elements of a worship service. (For a fine discussion of the distinction between "elements" and "circumstances," see The Songs of Zion, pp. 10-47, by Michael Bushell.) How can we possibly know what pleases him unless he tells us?
In this light, criteria such as whether or not something is "meaningful" or "edifying" lose much of their appeal. Do we at least acknowledge the possibility that many practices which seem uplifting, edifying, and worshipful may in fact be offensive to God?
David A. Sherwood
Your summary page of Psalter Hymnal resources inside the cover of RW 11 highlighted one of the advantages of the Psalter Hymnal of which your non-Christian Reformed Church readers should be aware. Any church considering a new hymnal should explore these resources: two excellent half-hour videos on philosophy and preparation; three tapes (soon to be four) of psalms, hymns, and Bible songs; the music-only edition—without the CRC liturgical resources and confessions; and an organ bibliography.
A letter to the editor in the same issue reminds us that tapes are still available from the Calvin College Music Department for the excellent conference on Liturgy and Music at Calvin College last summer. I recommend both Emily Brink's address on the Psalter Hymnal and the worship services, which included a festival of hymns, a festival of psalms, and an introduction to multi-ethnic materials.
Our study left us impressed with the outstanding multi-ethnic materials, modern Scripture songs, 128 songs with guitar chords, language updated from "thee," "dost," "art," etc., and many songs especially suitable for children. We enthusiastically decided to purchase the regular edition (songs-only version) of the Psalter Hymnal. You have an excellent option for non-CRC congregations.
East Lansing, Michigan