It is an historical fact that the Westminster Assembly deliberately limited worship song to the inspired Psalms. Matthew Winzer’s careful review of the historical evidence shows conclusively that claims to the contrary have no firm basis in fact. This review article needs to be placed in the hands of every person who would claim otherwise.—Michael Bushell, author of Songs of Zion (new edition to be available from the author, May 2010)
The Confessional Presbyterian 4 (2008) 253–266. Review: Nick Needham, ‘Westminster and worship: psalms, hymns, and musical instruments,’ In The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century, 2, ed. J. Ligon Duncan (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005). 540 pages. ISBN 978-1-857-92878-5. $37.99. Reviewed by Matthew Winzer, Grace Presbyterian Church (Australian Free Church), Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. Download PDF.
[Synopsis: Matthew Winzer briefly critiques Mr. Needham’s handling of the regulative principle of worship before reviewing at length his handling of the Westminster Assembly’s view of Singing of Psalms. Sections are: The Historical-contextual Interpretation of “Singing of Psalms” in the Westminster formularies; Th e Work and Proceedings of the Westminster Assembly; External Evidence: the Milieu of 1640s London; Advocates for Exclusive Psalmody Amongst the Westminster Assembly of Divines; and The Wider Puritan Tradition. Mr. Winzer then briefly covers Mr. Needham’s handling of the Assembly’s view of musical instruments in worship before concluding the review. A lengthy footnote handles the “other Scripture Songs” project of the Scottish General Assembly running parallel with what would become the 1650 Scottish Psalter.]
Westminster and Worship Examined: A Review of Nick Needham’s essay on the Westminster Confession of Faith’s teaching concerning the regulative principle, the singing of psalms, and the use of musical instruments in the public worship of God.
An attempt has recently been made by Nick Needham “to give an accurate historical judgment relating to the [Westminster] Assembly’s views and deliverances relating to exclusive psalmody and non-instrumental worship.”1 If, however, one were expecting to find a detailed examination of the writings of the divines, he would be sorely disappointed. Throughout the article reference is made to only one fragment of writing from a member of the Assembly; all other quotations are taken from the statements of individual Puritans who neither attended the Westminster Assembly nor spoke specifically to the issue of exclusive psalmody. Moreover, no use has been made of the valuable historical material to be found in the writings of those members who have provided some sketches of its proceedings. Given this regrettable state of affairs, it must be said that the article fails in its attempt to provide an accurate historical judgment on the Assembly’s views. Whoever is the rightful possessor of the views Mr. Needham has represented, they have not been shown to belong to the Westminster Assembly….