I was in a church today that considers itself to hold strictly to the regulative principle of worship (that which is not explicitly commanded for public worship in Scripture is implicitly condemned) and was puzzled that a choir sang an offertory—sang without the congregation during the taking up of the offering. I am wondering, given their position on worship, what the Biblical justification for this practice might be. Is this practice defensible from Scripture, given the regulative principle?

  • Out of curiosity, did the Choir sing several parts or in unison? Is your church part of the Stone-Campbell tradition? Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 20:58
  • @SanJacinto in parts. I am unfamiliar with the Stone-Campbell tradition, at least by name.
    – Kazark
    Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 21:20
  • Take a peek at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_Movement and tell me if it applies in your situation. I've heard of your "regulative principle" before as the "inclusion/exclusion principle." Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 21:39
  • @SanJacinto After reading only the first paragraph of that, I would say---no, nothing like that.
    – Kazark
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 3:48
  • Are you asking generally about choir-only singing in liturgy, or specifically about choir-only singing during an offertory procession?
    – Ben Dunlap
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 17:10

1 Answer 1


There are a number of times that the Psalms have a call and response to them (there is one which has "for his love endures forever" as the second half of every verse). The liturgy which is shown in the book of Revelation has a clear chorus which is separate from the congregation (elders who bow down are separate from the great multitude). If it is possible for one subset of the congregation to sing a part of a song, why would it be impossible for one subset to sing the entire song?

  • This if fine... as long as it's one song. If the choir handles the majority of the song service, to the point where the average congregant does not participate much, something may be wrong. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 3:07
  • Well, I suppose. But in the ancient Christian liturgies, it is my experience that the majority of the liturgy that was not sung by the priest would have been intoned by a cantor. Congregation singing would have happened, but it was not unheard of for one person to handle most of the singing. That said, most of my knowledge of ancient liturgy is related to liturgies which happened a couple hundred years after the NT was finished. Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 7:36
  • @JoelCoehoorn I think one needs to define "participate" very carefully before throwing out liturgical forms in which the congregation does not do much vocalizing. This question is at the center of a century-long and painful debate in the Catholic Church that is very far from being resolved.
    – Ben Dunlap
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 17:04
  • Those who hold to the regulative principle (subscription to which is the basis of the question) usually look for clear and specific directions. This is too much of an extrapolation to be convincing to those who would hold vigorously to that principle, as the mentioned church would purport to do. "Why not...?" type arguments are not convincing to vigorous adherents to the principle.
    – Kazark
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 22:54

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