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Erskine Psalm Conference

I had a great time the last part of this week at the Psalmody conference at Erskine. The plenary lectures by John Witvliet, Terry Johnson, Mark Ross and Robby Bell were excellent. Witvliet in an address similar to the one given earlier at Union argued for the formative use of the Psalms. Johnson gave a strong survey of Psalm singing in the history of the church showing how the singing of the Psalms was common in the church until more recently (since the Civil war). Mark Ross gave a compelling and inspiring argument for the use of the Psalms in our singing from a theological perspective. Robby Bell, who has recently endured much personal suffering, lectured on the place of the laments.

Johnson and Ross specifically argued clearly that we should sing complete psalms (rather than just snippets) and the whole Psalter. It is certainly true that the overall movement of the Psalm needs to be seen to fully appreciate the message of the psalm.

I was pleased to hear that the lectures will be posted at the school’s site soon. When they are available I will post the link.

I also had two wonderful opportunities to talk with Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old, certainly one of the giants in the land in regards to the history of worship practices in the church. One evening I had the opportunity to sit with Dr. and Mrs. Old, Terry Johnson, and James Hering at the Old’s guest house for a couple of hours discussing psalm singing. Johnson and Old were kind enough to think with me about how to introduce this practice to Baptist churches (James Grant has done this at his church and will be sharing his insights at Union on May 5). We also discussed Dr. Old’s forthcoming visit to Southern Seminary to deliver the Mullins lectures. For any near Louisville this will be a great opportunity. Dr. Old also mentioned that he will be giving an additional lecture on leading the church in prayer. I would love to hear this myself. In our tradition the idea of preparation or careful thinking about leading the congregation is very rare.

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