Category Archives: Trinity Hymnal

Theological & Doxological Meditation #50

  Q. 50. What is required in the second commandment?

A. The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word.

Dt. 12:32 “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.

Mt 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The Law of the Lord is Perfect
#152, The Trinity Hymnal (1990)
Psalm 19:7-11
Anonymous; alt. 1990

The Law of the Lord is perfect,
Converting the soul.
The testimony of the Lord is sure,
Making wise the simple.

More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold.
Sweeter also than honey
And the honeycomb.

The statutes of the Lord are right,
Rejoicing the heart.
The commandments of the Lord are pure,
Enlight’ning the eyes.

More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold.
Sweeter also than honey
And the honeycomb.

The fear of the Lord is clean,
Enduring forever.
The judgments of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold.
Sweeter also than honey
And the honeycomb.


Theological & Doxological Meditation #49

theological-doxological-meditations-logoSecond Commandment: Worship the Right God the Right Way

49. Q. Which is the second commandment?

A. The second commandment is,
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,
or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above,
or that is in the earth beneath,
or that is in the water under the earth:
thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:
for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children
unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
(Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:8-10)

All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above
#4, The Trinity Hymnal (©1990)
Johann J. Schutz, 1675
Tr. by Frances E. Cox, 1864
Bohemian Brethren’s Gesangbuch, 1566

All praise to God, who reigns above, the God of all creation,
The God of wonders, pow’r and love, the God of our salvation!
With healing balm my soul he fills, the God who every sorrow stills.
To God all praise and glory!

What God’s almighty pow’r hath made his gracious mercy keepeth;
By morning dawn or evening shade his watchful eye ne’er sleepeth;
Within the kingdom of his might, lo, all is just and all is right.
To God all praise and glory!

I cried to him in time of need: Lord God, O hear my calling!
For death he gave me life indeed and kept my feet from falling.
For this my thanks shall endless be; O thank him, thank our God with me.
To God all praise and glory!

The Lord forsaketh not his flock, his chosen generation:
He is their refuge and their rock, their peace and their salvation.
As with a mother’s tender hand he leads his own, his chosen band.
To God all praise and glory!

Ye who confess Christ’s holy name, to God give praise and glory!
Ye who the Father’s pow’r proclaim, to God give praise and glory!
All idols underfoot be trod, the Lord is God! The Lord is God!
To God all praise and glory!

Then come before his presence now and banish fear and sadness;
To your Redeemer pay your vow and sing with joy and gladness:
Though great distress my soul befell, the Lord, my God, did all things well.
To God all praise and glory!

Plain Vanilla Presbyterian Church

vanilla ice cream cone

The 10 marks of a “plain vanilla” Presbyterian church. Some are tongue-in-cheek–kinda!

  1. Lectio continua preaching. If you want topical preaching, then preach through the catechism in the evening.
  2. Is it a sanctuary or an auditorium?
  3. Evangelism is inherent in #1, while personal witnessing is commended and encouraged.
  4. Psalms and hymns sung from the Trinity Hymnal (1960, or 1990 edition) to piano accompaniment, at least.
  5. Resist the trend toward weekly communion, paedocommunion and intinction.
  6. Deaconess is not an ordained church office; pastors are men, too.
  7. If the Bible doesn’t say you can do it in the worship service, then you can’t!
  8. Congregational participation in worship: a) pray along with the elder during his public prayers, b) sing, recite the creed or Lord’s Prayer and responsively read like you mean it, c) actually hear and heed the Word preached.
  9. No hand raising until the benediction (but only if you know what it means).
  10. If you call people “Brother” and “Sister,” everyone will know you used to be a Baptist.

What other marks can you think of?

Theological & Doxological Meditation #48

Theology in the First Commandment

Q. 48. What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?

A. These words before me in the first commandment
teach us that God,
who seeth all things,
taketh notice of,
and is much displeased with,
the sin of having any other god (Deuteronomy 30:17-18; Psalm 44:20-21; Ezekiel 8:12) .

Jesus, Priceless Treasure
#656, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
Johann Franck, 1655
Tr. By Catherine Winkworth, 1863
Johann Crüger, 1649

Jesus, priceless treasure,
Source of purest pleasure,
Truest Friend to me:
Ah, how long in anguish
Shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for thee?
Thine I am, O spotless Lamb!
I will suffer naught to hide thee,
Naught I ask beside thee.

In thine arms I rest me;
Foes who would molest me
Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
Ev’ry heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Lightnings flash and thunders crash;
Yet, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.

Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
Fear, I bid thee cease.
World, thou shalt not harm me
Nor thy threats alarm me while I sing of peace.
God’s great pow’r
Guards ev’ry hour;
Earth and all its depths adore him,
Silent bow before him.

Hence, with earthly treasure!
Thou art all my pleasure,
Jesus, all my choice.
Hence, thou empty glory!
Naught to me thy story,
Told with tempting voice.
Pain or loss or shame or cross
Shall not from my Savior move me,
Since he deigns to love me.

Hence, all fear and sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
Though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within.
Yea, whate’er I here must bear,
Thou art still my purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure.

Theological & Doxological Meditations #48

Theology in the First Commandment

Q. What are we specially taught by these words, before me, in the first commandment?

 A. These words, before me, in the first commandment, teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God (Deuteronomy 30:17-18; Psalm 44:20-21; Ezekiel 8:12)

Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God

#11, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)

Psalm 72:8,11,12,18,19

Scottish Psalter, 1650 Mod.



Arr. By Harry T. Burleigh, 1939

Now blessed be the Lord our God,

The God of Israel,

For he alone does wondrous works

In glory that excel.

And blessed be his glorious name

To all eternity;

The whole earth let his glory fill.

Amen, so let it be.

His wide dominion shall extend

From sea to utmost sea,

And unto earth’s remotest bounds

His peaceful rule shall be.

Yea, all the kings shall bow to him,

His rule all nations hail;

He will regard the poor man’s cry

When other helpers fail.

Theological & Doxological Meditation #46

The First Requirement

 Q. What is required in the first commandment?

A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly (1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 45:20-25; Matthew4:10).

O People Blest, Whose Sons in Youth

 (play file 362 in “T&D mp3″ sidebar widget)

 #362, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
From Psalm 144:12-15
The Psalter, 1912; alt. 1961
SHORTLE 8.8.6.D rep.
Charles G. Goodrich, 1905

O people blest, whose sons in youth,
in sturdy strength and noble truth,
Like plants in vigor spring;
Whose daughters fair, A queenly race,
are like the cornerstones that grace
the palace of a king, the palace of a king.

O people blest, when flock and field
Their rich, abundant increase yield,
And blessings multiply;
When plenty all thy children share,
And no invading foe is there,
And no distressful cry, and no distressful cry.

O happy people, favored land,
To whom the Lord with lib’ral hand
Has thus his goodness shown;
Yea, surely is that people blest
By whom Jehovah is confessed
To be their God alone, to be their God alone.

Theological & Doxological Meditation #44

Teaching of the Decalogue’s Preface

44. What doth the preface to the Ten Commandments teach us?

A. The preface to the Ten Commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all of his commandments (Luke 1:74-75; 1 Peter1:14-19).

Blest Are the Undefiled

(play file 557 in “T&D mp3″ sidebar widget)

 #557, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
From Psalm 119
Isaac Watts, 1719; mod.
Lowell Mason, 1832

Blest are the undefiled in heart,
Whose ways are right and clean,
Who never from the law depart,
But fly from ev’ry sin.

Blest are the men who keep your word
And practice your commands;
With their whole heart they seek the Lord,
And serve you with their hands.

Great is their peace who love your law;
How firm their souls abide!
Nor can a bold temptation draw
Their steady feet aside.

Then shall my heart have inward joy,
And keep my face from shame,
When all your statutes I obey,
And honor all your name.

A True Presbyterian Hymnal for “A True Presbyterian Church”

1961 Edition of the Trinity Hymnal

One of the many factors that won me over to embrace Reformed theology and practice was the fascinating Trinity Hymnal (c. 1990). Back when I worked at what I endearingly call “The Reformation Station,” the print shop where God cornered me after years of on-again, off-again confrontation by the TULIP and other aspects of Reformed belief and behavior, I had the opportunity to print the bulletins for a local PCA church, which would include in its liturgy hymns selected from the Trinity Hymnal, printed in the bulletin, music and all! For this reason, there was a copy of the hymnal in the office, which they could use to prepare those bulletins, and which I could peruse from time to time and thereby enter the world of Reformed psalmody and English hymnody, and further tie my heart to my future spiritual and theological home in the Reformed tradition.

 Due to my abundance of affection for the Trinity Hymnal, I was very pleased to notice that I wouldn’t have to wait long to learn its history in Daryl Hart’s OPC history, Between the Times: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Transition, 1945-1990 (c. 2011, The Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church). The reader of this volume is treated to the story of the hymnal in chapter two, under the simple title, “Trinity Hymnal, 1944-1961.” Here’s a synopsis of what you’re in for if you purchase Hart’s history.

 In 1933, the PCUSA revised their hymnal, dropping 400 traditional hymns in favor of songs that reflect the liberalizing trend in the mainline denomination. J. Gresham Machen knew this was a problem. Reasoning from the old adage that the laity learn more theology from singing hymns than from systematic theology, he resolved that something had to be done about it. In the Lord’s providence, from the seed of this thought process on the part of Machen in response to the PCUSA’s threat to further corrupt the doctrine of rank and file Presbyterians, until the final publication of the Trinity Hymnal, a truly orthodox Presbyterian hymnal, 28 years would come and go. But what a glorious harvest of sound theology and biblical doxology would result from such a careful process of cultivation and fertilization.

With this opening anecdote, Dr. Hart surveys the history of American Presbyterian hymnals. Since the first one rolled off the press in 1831 there had been an average of one new hymnal per decade due to the number of controversies and divisions within the PCUSA between 1831 and 1961 (the date of Trinity Hymnal’s eventual publication). Although it would not be published under the auspices of the liberal mainline denomination, the Trinity Hymnal shares this common origin with its predecessors in the crucible of theological controversy. For this reason, it would be compiled with a commitment to aid the worship of the church in accordance with eternal truths, not contemporary trends.

 American Presbyterians also produced so many hymnals so frequently because Reformed and Presbyterian practice regarding the Word of God sung as an element of corporate worship was undergoing a transformation from the Scottish and Dutch commitment to exclusive psalmody, to embrace the English hymnody of Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley and others, in order to better respond to the gospel of Christ in terms of the full revelation of Christ in both Testaments.

Much discussion among the members of the Committee on Song in the Public Worship of God over the propriety of this historic move away from the stance of earlier Reformed churches would consume a number of General Assemblies between 1944 and 1961. Dr. Hart reports for us the discussions between the “foreign” element of “psalm-singers” on the committee lead by the Scottish John Murray and his cadre of Scottish and Dutch dissenters and the more Americanized majority who would eventually prevail in the appropriation of English hymn into the practice of not only orthodox Presbyterians in general, but the OPC in particular.

1990 edition of Trinity Hymnal in three colors

With the conclusion of this discussion would arise more rubber-meets-the-road problems like financing the hymnal. We learn the various ideas considered and how the Lord would provide just in time, enabling them to pay off the loans obtained to supplement the giving of Orthodox Presbyterians toward this end, neither too soon, nor too late.

 Finally, the reader is pleased to learn just how successful the hymnal was once it hit the market. There really was a need for just such a hymnal among many conservative Protestants outside the OPC.

 Chapter two of Hart’s Between the Times is a joy to read, especially if you love the Trinity Hymnal as much as this reviewer does. But with the recent 78th General Assembly of the OPC, we learn that the work of compiling psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to aid the worship of the Reformed is to march forward as it was announced that the OPC will be teaming up with the URCNA to publish a new Psalter-Hymnal in the years to come. I believe there will be enough love in my heart for both of these hymnals to share!

Theological & Doxological Meditation #43

The Decalogue’s Preface

Q. What is the preface to the ten commandments?

A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Exodus 20:2).

O God, Most Holy Are Your Ways

(play file 039 in “T&D mp3” sidebar widget)

#39, The Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
Psalm 77:13-20
The Psalter, 1912; alt. 1990, mod.
V. Schumann’s Geistliche Lider, 1539

O God, most holy are your ways,
and who like you deserves my praise?
You only do such wondrous things,
The whole wide world your glory sings;
Your outstretched arm your people saved,
Though sore distressed and long enslaved.

O God, from you the waters fled,
The depths were moved with mighty dread,
The swelling clouds their torments poured,
And o’er the earth the tempest roard;
‘mid lightning’s flash and thunder’s sound
great trembling shook the solid ground.

Your way was in the sea, O God,
Through mighty waters, deep and broad.
None understood but God alone,
To man your footsteps were unknown;
But safe your people you did keep,
Almighty Shepherd of your sheep.

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