Focus Review

Die lied in die erediens: Die rol wat dit gespeel het in die Afskeiding in 1859 in Suid-Afrika

H.A. Louw
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 33, No 4 | a645 | DOI: | © 1970 H.A. Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 August 1999 | Published:

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H.A. Louw, Rustenburg, South Africa

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The role of hymns in public worship and the influence it had on the Schism in 1859 in South Africa

During the Middle Ages congregational singing was replaced by choir singing. Both Luther and Calvin agreed that the members of the congregation should actively participate in the worship service by means of song. Calvin limited congregational songs to the Psalms of the Old Testament. The church in Netherlands followed his example, but added some hymns, excluding the Apostles Creed, that comprises also lyrical parts from Scripture.

In 1807 a hymn book was implemented and used in the Netherlands. This was one of the reasons for the Schism which took place in 1834. During 1814 the hymn book was implemented in the Cape resulting in discontent in the border districts. Some discontented people took part in the Great Trek. A congregation mainly consisting of these people was established in Rustenburg in 1859. In this congregation only Psalms were sung during services. Soon Reformed congregations having the same objections regarding hymns came into being in the Free State and the north-eastern Cape Province. For the founder of these congregations, Rev. D. Postma, the singing of free hymns was a mediance matter. For the “Doppers” as the conservative people were called, the singing of Psalms only was a serious matter of principle. Times have changed and the Reformed Churches in South Africa will have to reflect whether it is really a matter of principle to sing Old Testament Psalms only. The suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ should also be celebrated in song. The existing 48 scriptural lyrics do not satisfy these requirements. Free hymns of the other Afrikaans churches will definitely have to be taken into consideration.


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