Thursday, 27 March 2014


Who Stole the Doxologies – Part Two

The Public Worship of Presbyterian Scotland Historically Treated (1892)  C G McCrie

Speaking of the Westminster Assembly:

“To insure uniformity in the praise service the Scotch members gave up several items which seem trivial to us. In those days they appeared so important as to raise a clamour of "innovations" — that dreadful word which has so often wrought disturbance and division in our national church. Strangely enough, customs which are now spoken of as Scotch whims and freaks, and held up to ridicule as marks of the unreasonableness and absurdity of our northern nation, are the very things which were forced upon us by our Southern associates. It is still more strange, that while their introduction at that time threatened to disrupt the Scottish Church, their discontinuance in our own day met determined opposition. By long use and wont the practices had become so thoroughly interwoven with our ecclesiastical system that they were clung to with the same tenacity which had nearly excluded them at the first.

The two principal "novations" in connection with the Psalmody which were accepted by the Scottish Church for the sake of uniformity were the reading of the Psalm line by line when it was being sung, and the disuse of the "Conclusions" to the Psalms. In other words, setting aside the Doxologies. The reading of the line was strongly opposed by the Scottish Commissioners. They finally yielded it as involving no principle.

They excused themselves to their own Assembly on the plea that it seemed necessary for the English congregations as so many of the people could not read and the others were poorly supplied with psalms-books. They succeeded in modifying the rule as given in the Directory by inserting the saving clauses, "for the present, when many in the congregations cannot read” and "it is convenient."


The disuse of the Doxology was a more serious affair, and produced a keen contest. It had formed part of the praise service almost from the dawn of the Reformation.' The Fathers and the early Councils were quoted to show that some such form had come down from the time of the Apostles. "Moderator," said Calderwood, the historian, "I entreat that the Doxology be not laid aside, for I hope to sing it in heaven." Dr. Baillie pleaded for it with all the eloquence of his tongue and pen. The English Puritans persisted in classing it with the prelatical and "nocent" (hurtful) practices. For the sake of peace and uniformity the others unwillingly yielded, desirous thereby of "edifying one another in love." " 

[To be continued...]