I was speaking with a minister in the Reformed Episcopal Church a while back, and he told me a revealing incident that happened during his ordination examination. An older clergyman asked him if the psalter were an important part of prayer, and thus of counseling and worship. When my friend replied in the affirmative, the older clergyman asked him to give the theme and gist of every psalm, starting with the first and ending with the 150th. My friend, who had spent some years in Episcopalianism and thus knew some of the psalms, struggled for a while, but finally had to give up. The older clergyman opposed his ordination, maintaining that my friend should master the psalter before presuming to lead God’s people.
Amazing? Surprising? I think not. In fact, I think that the older gentleman’s position is absolutely correct. I think this is a great ordination question – though I confess that I would fail it. After all, I’ve spent twenty years in hard-core, Bible-believing, tough-as-nails, Reformed, evangelical Presbyterian churches, so I barely know the psalter. I only know what I’ve studied on my own.
Here’s a question for you: Given that our theological seminaries have chapel services daily, or at least several times a week, how many of them teach the students to sing all 150 psalms during chapel? How would you like to have a pastor who went to seminary where the psalms were taken seriously? A pastor who was taught to sing the psalms, and who was familiar with all of them?