THE SO-CALLED EVANGELICAL HYMNS THE DARLING OF THE ENRAPTURED AND MISLED MULTITUDE IN THE SYNODICAL REFORMED CHURCH and even by some of God’s children from blindness, because they were drunk with the wine of her fornication, further tested, weighed and found wanting, Yes, in conflict with all our FORMS OF UNITY AND THE WORD OF GOD BY H. DeCock, Reformed Minister of Ulrum Under the cross for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Original Publisher’s Preface
The pamphlet drafted by Jacobus Klok, regarding hymns, published by me and remarkably crowned with God’s blessing, almost totally sold out. 1 It appears to me that the true Church of Christ has great interest in this work, so much so that another pamphlet has been drafted in a more concise format, this time more easily accessible to everyone and with fewer proofs; these are unnecessary since in that respect the studious and inquiring reader can frequently refer to the more important work that we have mentioned.
It could then to some degree be organized more suitably to convince people who are prejudiced or who have little knowledge, but are otherwise sincere. May God’s mercy make the blind to see, the deaf hear and the dumb to speak.
The First Chapter deals with the objections regarding the introduction of hymns, and a rebuttal of what some have said which appeared to be reasonable.
The Second Chapter deals with the composers and their compositions, tried by their own witness and their own confessions and their reasonings, and found wanting.
The Third Chapter encompasses the report of certain grave falsehoods and unseemly innovations, as well as other uncertainties and improbabilities.
May the Lord use it for His glorification. for the edification of His Church and congregation, so that those who have strayed will be corrected, also so that many will return to the congregation of the redeemed.
Mournfullv, and with no delight 0 Lord of Hosts, O Lord of might, Are Ashdod’s songs, these sorry samples Which are heard in Holland’s temples. Alluring, and souls deceiving, A tragedy for those believing. My soul cries out.. O Father! Ghost! That lies may die and truth may, boast. 2 J. Kool
Chapter 1 — Objections Against the Introduction of Hymns
Hymns were never introduced into the church, except to cause degeneration and contempt for the welfare of the church, or perhaps in cases of incomplete Reformation.
We see firstly, that in the Old Testament no other hymns are recognized except the collection of Psalms. Through contempt and degeneration of the welfare of the church (a state wherein the Jews often resided), instead of singing to God’s honour with His own Spirit-inspired Psalms, they went against God’s will and composed their own songs, even taking delight in these compositions.3 These have itching ears resulting in them being unable to bear the truth. It is because of these that the Apostle Paul warns Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3) concerning self-willed worship, likewise forbidden by our Lord in the New Covenant (Matthew 15:9). In the Old Covenant they also did not delight in God, and would not be subservient to His Word in Spirit and in truth.4 That is why in Deuteronomy 11:8, 32 there is the sharp command:
“You shall not at all do as we are doing here today — every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes…’Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it. you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” 5
It is for this reason that God so earnestly warns His Prophets during times of deformation, for example in Amos 5:23 :
“Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.”
Also Amos 8:10 :
“I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, and baldness on every head; I will make it mouming for an only son, and its end like a bitter day.”
And also in Isaiah 23:16, with reference to Tyre:
“Take a harp, go about the city, you forgotten harlot; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that you may be remembered.”
And will you, children of God (!), follow after adulterous Tyre, and depart from God’s express command, to bring the plagues on us or to multiply them, when Amos 8:10 stands as a warning, or when Moses gives God’s threatening words with respect to adding or subtracting from His commands (Deut. 12:8,32)?
No, beloved! Let us fear the Lord of Hosts and His command (cf Isaiah 8:11-15); then He will be for us as a sanctuary, give us comfort and protection, but to His foes He will be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, He will be as a trap and a snare, and many among them shall stumble, they shall fall and be broken — those who deviate from the Lord and rebel against His anointed.6 See also Psalm 2.
We see as well, amongst other things in the New Covenant, that in the best of times, and in the purest churches, hymns are never found or tolerated. Our fathers similarly always showed the greatest disapproval, and kept watch against this as they were so much against it, as evidenced by their decisions, based on God’s word and experience. Where, therefore, were the hymns, or other whorish songs ever used in the days of the apostles in the congregations of the Lord? Do we find any reference to them? Never! It is true that we find even early references to heretics t
hat our Church rejects, such as Arius, Paul of Samosata, and the Valentinians in the second, third, and fourth century.7 These heretics, I say, had innovations in mind, and caused the congregations to become perverse, blinded through errors, and they did these things by means of new songs of human composition. See Van de Velde, The Wonders of the Most High (De Wonderen des Allerhoogsten), p.5968 And will you, children of God (!), the Reformed of the Netherlands (!), go against our confession and follow these heretics? Will you disregard the decisions of our fathers? Amongst other things you may see page 17 in my Preliminary Report (Vooloopig Berigt),9 the meetings of 1578 held in Dordrecht, in 1581 in Middelburg, in 1586 in Gravenhage, and in 1618 and 1619 in Dordrecht.10 Will you, I say, trample and disobey and stray from the path and do away with all the decisions of the general Synods of our fathers regarding their pronouncements from God’s Word against these songs? This ought to be far from you, the faithful and upright, who tremble before God’s word, and who, along with our God-fearing forefathers should resist degenerate lies and perverse sin. They opposed Rome and Spain, and will you be charged with the blood of our fathers?!
Beloved, these songs were not imported solely by the early heretics and emigrants from God’s Word, but also by those who came after. Of this the learned and God-fearing Peter Martyr11 gives evidence, as well as the Reformers in Italy and in Germany, that by this means the Roman church received copper in exchange for gold.
It was soon after the Reformation that the Remonstrants in the 17th century moved and shook the church painfully, and brought the state to the edge of the abyss. These also once again brought in songs 12 even as their forefathers the Arians, the Samosatians, the Valentinians, and the Romish. Therefore our forefathers, in session 162 of the Synod of Dort, write amongst other things the following, “The rest of the songs shall be taken out of the church, and similarly any which have previously been imported into the church shall be omitted in the most decent way possible.”13
History alone is sufficient to acquaint us with the stinking source from which they i.e. hymns flowed forth, and so we are able to judge them shameful and abominable, and furthermore we hear the word of the wise King in Proverbs 24:21: “Do not associate with those given to change.”
But here I expect that the worldly wise and those inclined to the flesh will make two objections:
1. Are “hymns and spiritual songs” not spoken of in Ephesians 5: 19 and Colossians 3:16? To those who say thus I would ask that they show me, clearly and in a well-grounded fashion, not by means of surmising or guessing, but in a concise and thorough manner, that the Apostle speaks of hymns and songs outside of God’s word. If not, then I hold forth one proof, which both men and children cannot argue against, although perhaps this will not satisfy those who first of all point to Revelation when it says that, in heaven a “new song” will be sung and content themselves with that. 14 With such ad hominem proofs, (to make the people blind as well as to blind themselves) I am not satisfied, and keep with our learned, God-fearing, and truly wise commentators who write: “The three sorts of Spiritual songs point to one purpose, namely to delight the Holy Spirit. And some also make the distinction that all the Psalms are types of Spiritual songs, not only practiced with the voice, but also with the stringed instruments: hymns, thanksgivings to God or poems of praise regarding the Lord’s mercy towards us. And by “spiritual songs” we understand that these poems are the means through which all kinds of Spiritual things are learned. See also Colossians 3:16, where the various names mentioned for the titles appear to be found in the Psalms of David.15 I reckon that with these references this objection is taken away and dealt with.
2. But certain others say, “Luther was surely a man of God, and he brought new songs to the church!” I acknowledge this in front of the world! But would you not say that God-fearing people sometimes make mistakes? Luther was certainly wrong in more than one respect, in everything not free of Romish influence (likewise one can point out, amongst his other views, his view regarding the consubstantiation of the Lord’s physical presence upon, within, and amongst the bread and the wine, during our Lord’s Holy Supper). The Anglican Church is much the same, although we are together on the point of free grace. Surely you must agree with me, all those who know the truth as well as the history, as I have said in the beginning, that overall, where Reformation has broken out in its purest form, the hymns are completely done away with. However, it happened also with us that the hymns soon crept in again. We went back to following the bastard children of the Romish beast, who are able to sing like the Sirens.16 We newcomers try to exceed what has gone before.
So then we see that, not with us, nor in France, nor in Geneva, are hymns tolerated or found, and certainly not in Scotland. However, in England, where episcopalian church government remains and where Romish ceremonies are still partially allowed, one will perhaps also find hymns being sung.
Why will you follow after the abuses of particular churches, and forsake and forget the good of our fathers and the other Reformers, and be subject to God’s displeasure? 1 hope to be preserved by God’s mercy from those who wish to do that. Furthermore, I rather prefer to agree with the letter, regarding another matter, but applicable here also, that was written by the great John Knox to the English Bishops in 1565. It was written by the charge of the National Synod of Scotland held in that year to ask the English Bishops and ministers to deal leniently with such of their brethren who were scrupled to use the sacerdotal dress enjoined by the laws — the white raiments and other vestures. Knox writes thus: “If surplesse, cornett-cap and tippet and I would include here the hymns, HDC, have been badges of idolaters in the very act of their idolatry, what has the preacher of Christian liberty and open rebuker of all superstition to do with the dregs of that Romish beast; yea, what is he that ought not to feare either to take in his hand or forehead, the print and mark of that odious Beast? … If the commandment of the Authority urge the conscience of you and of our brethren farther than they can bear, we unfeignedly crave of you that ye remember ye are called the ‘light of the world,’ and ‘the salt of the earth.’ All those called to authority have not the light of God always shining before the eyes in their statutes and commandments; but their affections savour over much of the earth and of worldly wisdom, and therefore we think ye should boldly oppose yourselves to all that power that will or dare burden the consciences of the faithful, farther than God has burdened them in his own word.17
And what was the effect of Luther’s false step upon his followers? These are once again forming the majority among our so-called “Reformed” or “Liberals.” Do they not have much more in common with the Pope of Rome than with Luther or Calvin? Even as blindness is met with blindness, sin with sin, deviation with deviation, so the Lutheran Church has been visited with God’s righteous jud
gment and punishment.
I am not exhaustively familiar with their history, but this I do know: Luther had the highest esteem for the Psalms, so much so that he certainly never compared them with any of his songs. And amongst Lutherans there are still those who hold the same views18 But there are those who have gone far away from those views and hold that among the 150 Psalms, 125 are not reckoned suitable for our times, and the remaining 25 are still just better left alone. In their opinion, they are able to compose more spiritual songs. But their songs were actually beastly, and the result of using them is that God’s work has almost completely vanished.
O what times! O what customs! Must we await (if the Lord does not mercifully prevent this, as He will, nevertheless we must gird up and call the young to stand and battle for the faith, once for all delivered to the Saints) this judgment?!!! Absolutely and most certainly. And these, alas, have been the mournful results that we know exist: I don’t know of one book of songs that has been compiled by men, whether big or small, in which one can see the indwelling of God’s Spirit, notwithstanding that these songs may be based largely on God’s Word. What then should come of our responses to the Synodical Reformed Hervormde Church regarding such a large compilation, whose shortcomings have been pointed out? Some of the songs are great enemies of free grace, and are similarly sometimes openly Arminian. They are largely not based on truth either, but on frauds and lies. Regarding these the Apostle Peter speaks in 2 Peter 2: 1: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies.” That will presently be dealt with in Chapter 2, the Lord willing.