John Wesley published a modified Book of Common Prayer under the name Sunday Service of the Methodists, in which he says in the preface:

I believe there is no Liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational piety, than the Common Prayer of the Church of England. And though the main of it was compiled considerably more than two hundred years ago, yet is the language of it not only pure, but strong and elegant, in the highest degree.

Little alteration is made in the following edition of it, except in the under-mentioned instances:

  1. Most of the holy-days (so called) are omitted, as at present answering no valuable end.

  2. The service of the LORD's DAY, the length of which has been often complained of, is considerably shortened.

  3. Some sentences in the offices of Baptism, and for the Burial of the Dead, are omitted; and,

4. Many Psalms left out, and many parts of the others, as being highly improper for the mouths of a Christian Congregation.


Bristol, Sept. 9, 1784.

Which Psalms did he leave out, and which parts of others for being "highly improper," and why are/were they considered "highly improper for the mouths of a Christian Congregation"? Are these same Psalms and parts of Psalms still avoided by Methodists today in their congregational worship?


2 Answers 2


Imprecatory Psalms

John Wesley escised 34 Psalms altogether, and removed portions of another 58.

To imprecate means to invoke evil upon, or curse. Imprecatory psalms, also called the cursing psalms, are those psalms that contain prayers for God's judgment on the psalmist's enemies.


"Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave." Psalm 55:15

"O God, break the teeth in their mouths." Psalm 58:6

"May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous." Psalm 69:28

"May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow." Psalm 109:9

"How blessed will be the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks." Psalm 137:9

The complete list:

Psalms 5:10; 6:10; 7:6; 9:19-20; 10:2,15; 17:13; 28:4; 31:17-18; 35:1,4-8,19,24-26; 40:14-15; 41:10; 54:5; 55:9,15; 56:7; 58:6-10; 59:5,11-14; 63:9-10; 68:1-2; 69:22-28; 70:2-3; 71:13; 79:6,10-12; 83:9-18; 94:1-4; 97:7; 104:35; 109:6-19,29; 119:84; 129:5-7; 137:7-9; 139:19-22; 140:8-11; 141:10; 143:12.

John Wesley considered it highly improper for Christians to sing or pray for others to be cursed or to be met with any kind of affliction, partly because it contradicted Christ's teachings to love your enemies.

To this day there are still many Christians that feel these Psalms conflict with Christian ethics, but there are also those that still choose to sing the Psalms of imprecation. Those that do, argue that the Psalms are inspired Scripture and that all inspired Scripture is inspired by God and profitable. They also argue that all the Psalms of imprecation point to our ultimate enemy, Satan, and that one day they will partake in God’s victory over His enemies.


I went through the book to check which Psalms are missing and I found it to be the following:

14, 21, 27, 28, 52, 53, 54, 58, 60, 64, 72, 74, 78, 87, 88, 94, 101, 105, 106, 108, 109, 110, 120, 122, 133, 134, 136, 137, 140, 149

30 Psalms in all, entirely omitted.

In the copy you linked to it was unclear whether 67 and 68 were included because pages 110-111 were missing, so I had to find another copy of the book on google books, but I found they are both included, although only 18 verses of 68 are included (normally that Psalm is 35 verses). Aside from that, I have not yet checked with regard to what verses are omitted from the Psalms that are included.

Although the other answer implies that 68:1-2 are excluded, they are not. Nor is the list provided there an exhaustive list of imprecatory verses, because 68:21-23 are also imprecatory (and verses 68:21-23 are excluded by Wesley, but verses 68:1-2 are not).

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