Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 16, 1955

An Embarrassing Situation

C.D. Plum, Columbus, Ohio

Song books sometimes get one into an embarrassing situation. It happens something like this. Occasionally I teach against the practice, sin I think it is, of calling a preacher "Rev." Attention is called to the statement made in Psalms 111:9. "Holy and reverend is his name." It is pointed out that God is "reverend," and that no man should be called reverend. So far so good. Church of Christ preachers are pretty well in accord on what I have written here. 'Even "our" song book makers will accept what is said here without dissent.

Too, I usually call attention to the first meaning of reverend: "worthy of reverence", and I affirm that no man is thus worthy of reverence, hence no man should permit himself to be called reverend, if he can at all prevent it. And so far as I know preachers among us, and song book makers still-agree.

Then after such a dissertation as briefly described above comes the embarrassment. The song leaders, and God bless them for their helpful talent, seldom take time to read the fine print connected with a copyrighted song, and sing a song that has been dedicated to a "Rev. So and So." To be most technically correct, I might add that this song is more often sung before such a dissertation. But whether before the speech or afterward the embarrassment is the same.

There was in one of my audiences once a lady of Baptist faith who read this fine print containing the name of this "Rev. So and So", and who pointed out that if it is wrong to call preachers "Rev.", isn't it wrong to have it in our song books? Was my face red! But some one says brother Plum you should have taught her that these are copyrighted songs that have the "Rev.", the "D.D.s", the "Dr." to their names and we cannot change a copyrighted song. I did. But my face is still red. My embarrassment continues.

She did not say so in so many words, but this lady was not satisfied. She could have said to me — but she didn't — who selected these copyrighted songs? Were they thrust upon us? I'd have replied they were not thrust upon us. Oftentimes these selections were made by preachers who believe it is wrong to call a preacher reverend. Oftentimes cold cash is paid for the use of such songs I am told. And this would have astonished this woman. The ones who compiled these song books, and the song book makers all used these songs with their eyes wide open. I ask, "Is this consistent?"

This is equal to advertising the book: "At The Feet Of Paul", as one of the very best books to help us understand the Bible. This has been seen in writing in one of our papers. Yet this book says among other things that any musical instrument which we can use in the home can be used in the worship of God. Do we believe this? No sir, we yell in chorus. Then why so advertise this book? Does any amount of commission sales justify trafficking in the souls of men and women? Even as a grocer should sell stale produce, or stale meat, neither should brethren sell that which is poison to the unsuspecting. If sell it we must, for filthy lucre's sake, we should label it "dangerous." "Contaminated with denominational poison". But back to the song books.

Are these songs by the so-called "reverend" and D.D. folk a necessity to these books? They are not as everybody knows. Perhaps no more than a dozen, or a score at most of such songs are found in our song books. Their absence, with their titles would not have affected the sale of these books. And especially so if brethren had-been told we are publishing a song book without the help of these so-called reverend people. If we want or need a few more songs than now exist "free of these objections," do we not have God loving brethren who can produce such? WE DO HAVE. Then why not discard this objectionable feature in future publications?

Brethren, is there a good song book among us that is free from the things I mention here? If you know of such, please let us all know it.