Athanasius was not a Covenanter

Sometimes you see claims from the Exclusive Psalmody group that the early church rejected musical instruments.  It’s always immediately clear that the people saying this have never read the Fathers (or the medievals). True, they wouldn’t have sang Fanny Crosby hymns played on the piano. But let’s pretend for a moment the claim is true.  What of it?  They certainly were not Exclusive Psalmody Covenanters.  They chanted.  They sang troparion and kontakion, which isn’t found in the Psalter.  But let’s see what St Athanasius actually said.

Saint-Athanasius-life-4

Chant the psalms as they are.  Don’t use metric psalmody

To be sure, when Athanasius mentions “being tuned” and “Music,” he also has in mind the soul’s harmony with Christ.  That’s probably foremost.  But the physical stringed references shouldn’t be discarded, either. In reading this I noticed something else–Athanasius said to chant the Psalms as they are.  Don’t change the wording.

No one must allow himself to be persuaded, by any arguments what-ever, to decorate the Psalms with extraneous matter or make alterations in their order or change the words them-selves. They must be sung and chanted in entire simplicity, just as they are written, so that the holy men who gave them to us, recognizing their own words, may pray with us, yes and even more that the Spirit, Who spoke by the saints, recognizing the selfsame words that He inspired, may join us in them too.

 

About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in Church History, Fathers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Athanasius was not a Covenanter

  1. cal says:

    On an unrelated note: will you write a review of Levy’s work on Wycliffe when you’re done? I’d be interested in reading it.

    Like

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