“As it is believed that this passage of Scripture has perplexed the minds of some who may have paid more attention to the mere sound of words, than to the meaning of the apostle, the reader is desired to take up his Bible and read the chapter in which these words occur. It will at once be seen that the apostle is here [Colossians 3] exhorting Christians generally, to the performance of various Christian duties. ‘Set your affection on things above; mortify your members, which are upon the earth ; put off the old man with his deeds ; put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness ; and let the peace of God rule in your hearts.’ These, it will be admitted, are duties incumbent on all Christians, in whatever sphere of life they may move. And in immediate connection with the mention of these duties the apostle gives the direction contained in the passage under consideration, in which he likewise exhorts to the performance of a duty common to all the followers of Christ : now what is the duty? Can any one seriously believe, that it is to write or compose psalms and hymns?
Why this is a task which not one in a thousand among Christians has the capacity to perform. The talent and the requirements necessary to enable one to compose a sacred song, are possessed by few. Even in the present age, when the advantages of education are much more generally diffused than they were in apostolic times, the Christian world can scarcely produce a man qualified to furnish the church with a tolerable version of the psalms contained in the Bible. Independent of the fact, then, that there is nothing here said about composing psalms and hymns, it is preposterous to suppose that the apostle exhorts the disciples of Christ generally, to perform as a duty, a work which is entirely beyond the capacity of the great body of the household of faith.”
from “Review of Ralston’s Inquiry into the propriety of using an evangelical Psalmody in the worship of God. 2nd ed.” pg. 37-38
Dr. John T. Pressly was an ARP minister and Professor of Systematic Theology at the Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny City, PA.