Some differences between a Psalter and a Hymnal.

The Psalter is the Word of God. A hymnal is the word of man.

All 150 Psalms are God-breathed and divinely made profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. The hymnal isn’t.

All 150 Psalm are alive and sharper than any two edged sword and lay us bare before the God with whom we have to do. The hymnal doesn’t.

The Psalter is canonical. The hymnal is not.

The Psalter is small “c” catholic. The hymnal isn’t and can’t be.

The Psalter is inerrant. The hymnal is not.

The Psalter gives biblical understanding of God’s person and work in its appropriate balance. The hymnal doesn’t.

The Psalter infallibly reveals Christ. The hymnal by definition is not revelatory. At best, it is an imperfect expression of man’s devotion to God.

The Psalter is truly Christo-centric in a manner and quality that can only be obtained by the Holy Spirit. The hymnal isn’t

The Psalter is more than simply the inerrant and authoritative Word of God to man. It also is gives God’s approved words for man to sing, speak, and pray back to Him in worship and devotion. The hymnal isn’t.

The Psalter gives a biblical view of man. Calvin called the Psalms, “An Anatomy of all Parts of the Soul; for there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not represented here as a mirror.” The hymnal doesn’t.

Luther, in writing a preface to a Psalter that he created, a Psalter in 1531, he says, “The Psalter ought to be precious and dear, were it for nothing else but the clear promise it holds forth respecting Christ s death and resurrection, and its prefiguration of His kingdom and of the whole estate and system of Christianity, insomuch that it might well be entitled a Little Bible, wherein everything contained in the entire Bible is beautifully and briefly comprehended, and compacted into a Manual. The hymnal isn’t a little Bible.

The Psalter has many Psalms of lament-confession of sin-contrition. The hymnal has a few at best.

The Psalms give a biblical view of life in the present evil age. The hymnal doesn’t. Book of Psalms have only about 6 Psalms that don’t speak of the enemies of God and His people. Hymnals don’t keep this ratio. The hymnal can communicate an unbiblical view of life in this present evil age.

The Psalter gives a biblical view of sin, judgment, and the hope of the gospel. While the hymnal may speak of our sin, judgment, and the hope of the gospel, it doesn’t maintain the same biblical balance of the Psalter.

Psalms sing of God’s vengeance and wrath against sin, evil rulers, and in defense of His people. They even call on God to manifest His wrath. The hymnal doesn’t.

The Psalter has imprecatory Psalms. The hymnal doesn’t.

The Psalter addresses real human conditions such as a woman’s barrenness. Does the hymnal?

The Psalter addresses depression. The hymnal doesn’t.

Th Psalter give a biblical view of the human life and condition. The hymnal gives an overly optimistic few of the ordinary Christian life.

The Psalter has several Psalms explicitly warning kings, rulers, and judges of the accountability before God. The hymnal doesn’t. It has American patriotic songs which have no business being in a song book for a church.

The Psalter brings the worshiper into inter-Trinitarian conversations between the Father and the Son as revealed by the Spirit. Think Psalm 2, 22, 40, 110 and 118 to mention just a few as examples. The hymnal doesn’t.

The Psalter gives Holy Spirit directed revelation of the mind of Christ in His prayers and responses to blessing and trials. We get to see how Jesus prayed and praised. The hymnal does not.

The Psalter is quoted in the NT and used in apostolic proclamation of Christ. Hymns of human origin are not.

Psalms were sung in worship by New Testament church. Uninspired hymns were not.

The Psalter was sufficient for Jesus Christ as part of His worship of God as a perfect human. There is no record of Jesus Christ singing uninspired hymns in worship.

~By Douglas Vandermeulen