Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance – by John Cotton (1585-1662)


There are a handful of puritan works on singing Psalms. This work by John Cotton (a New England Pilgrim) was quoted repeated by individual Puritans in England on this most important subject. It is one of the best treatments of psalmody now in print. For the student of worship this is an important biblical work on the subject of Christ’s worship.


Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance, by John Cotton (1585-1662)

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John Cotton (1585-1662) was an English Reformed clergyman and colonist who left Puritan England for the “new world.” He was a principal figure among the New England Pilgrim ministers, and because of his popularity and previous Puritan leanings, he was invited to attend the Westminster Assembly of Divines (though he did not attend).

This work is one of the foundational reformed documents on singing psalms, both from a biblical perspective and an exegetical one. It follows the same biblical and theological ideas that the Westminster Assembly determined that all Reformed churches in the world have a duty “to praise God publicly, by singing of psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family.” Cotton is quoted many times in the works of the Puritans for this masterful treatise on the subject. He covers how to sing with a lively voice (clearing all objections that might be against this), who ought to sing psalms (individuals or the whole congregation), whether women may sing as well as men, whether carnal men may sing, as well as godly Christians, the manner of singing, and objections against the practice. This is a classic work that ought not to be missed by all Christians willing to study what God says in determining the manner in which sinners are to approach him in worship.

This work is not a scan or facsimile and has been made easy to read with an active table of contents for electronic versions.