Last summer, I read Worship by the Book, a collection of essays on Christian worship edited by D.A. Carson. The four chapters are written by Carson, Mark Ashton, R. Kent Hughes and Tim Keller.
While I would have supposed that the Keller chapter would have resonated with me more than the others due to our common theological commitments as Presbyterians, it was a quote by Ashton, an Anglican, that was itself worth the price of the book. In fact, I’ve even remembered that the quotation is on page 83 though I hadn’t looked at the book again before this morning.
Mark Ashton writes about three questions that should be used as guidelines for planning a service. In asking the first question, “Is it biblical?”, Ashton writes:
If it is no longer appropriate to chant psalms, we must find other ways to incorporate them into our services. Psalms are the main biblical medium for the expression of human emotion. (Expressions of sorrow and joy, confidence and despair, anger and elation, abound in the Psalter.) As the psalms have disappeared from our church services, so other expressions of human emotion have welled up, some of which are much less healthy than the psalms, and almost all of which are less biblical. But the psalms can still be used — as frameworks for prayer, as antiphonal readings, for meditation.