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A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody

This essay was included at the end of the first printing of Isaac Watts (1707) "Hymns and Spiritual Songs" but was omitted from the 1818 reprint from which the Project Gutenberg edition of that work (e-book #13341, http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/13341) was transcribed.

The original 1707 page numbers are retained within curly brackets.

The spelling and punctuation of the 1707 printing are also retained; so are any inconsistencies and errors (e.g. "Excercise" on p. 265) except that a mistake at the bottom of page 246, as noted in the publisher's concluding "Errata," has been corrected.

The long 's' has been replaced by its modern equivalent.

Words broken off and hyphenated at the ends of lines have been joined up and the hyphens deleted.

Italics in the original are indicated by underscores around the text. Watts uses italics for proper nouns and quotations; when proper nouns occur within quotations their italics are removed.

Greek letters have been transliterated (e.g. _Psalmos_).

A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody:

Or, An Enquiry how the Psalms of _David_ ought to be translated into Christian Songs, and how lawful and necessary it is to compose other Hymns according to the clearer Revelations of the Gospel, for the Use of the Christian Church.

by

Isaac Watts

{233} A Short Essay Toward the Improvement of Psalmody: Or, An Enquiry how the Psalms of _David_ ought to be translated into Christian Songs, and how lawful and necessary it is to compose other Hymns according to the clearer Revelations of the Gospel, for the Use of the Christian Church.

To speak the Glories of God in a religious Song, or to breath out the Joys of our own Spirits to God with the Melody of our Voice is an exalted Part of Divine Worship. But so many are the Imperfections in the Practice of this Duty, that the greatest Part of Christians find but little Edification or Comfort in it. There are some Churches that utterly disallow Singing; and I'm perswaded, that the poor Performance of it in the best Societies, {234} with the mistaken Rules to which it is confined is one great Reason of their intire Neglect; for we are left at a loss (say they) what is the Matter and Manner of this Duty; and therefore they utterly refuse: Whereas if this glorious Piece of Worship were but seen in its Original Beauty, and one that _believes_ not this Ordinance, or is _unlearned_ in this Part of Christianity should _come into_ such _an Assembly, he would be convinced of all; he would be judged of all, he would fall down on his Face, and report that God was in the Midst of it of a Truth_; 1 Cor. 14. 24, 25.

In order to trace out the Matter or Subject of religious Singing, let us collect into one View the chief Texts of the New Testament where this Worship is mention'd, and afterwards see what Arguments may be deduced from thence, to prove, that 'tis proper to use Spiritual Songs of humane Composure, as well as the Psalms of _David_ or the Words of other Songs recorded in Scripture.


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