Clearnote SongbookTo reform the Church is to reform her worship.

Everything about our worship indicates our reverence, zeal, and love toward the Triune God; or alternately, our flippancy and indifference. Hearts aflame for God cry out for men to preach the Word, read Scripture, pray, and sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with zeal. Sadly, though, worship today is aimed at the mind or the heart. It's intellect or passion--never both. When there is zeal, it's rarely "in accordance with knowledge." And those claiming knowledge make a principle out of their absence of zeal.

Five hundred years ago, John Calvin worked to reform every part of the Church's worship. We must give ourselves to this same work today.

That's why I'm very thankful to announce The men behind the Songbook--Jody Killingsworth, Philip Moyer, and the Good Shepherd Band, along with Ben Crum, Joseph Bayly, and Lucas Weeks--have put together a site that is a call to reform our worship. The Clearnote Songbook is jam-packed with goodies to help in that work...


First, of course, the Songbook itself. It's great! The men have launched the site with 58 songs, many accompanied by full-length demos. For many, listening to the music they've recorded and made available (for free!) is likely to be the most appreciated part of the site. But the site was not built for individual consumption. It was built for the church, her officers, and her musicians.

Most of the music used by churches today is copyrighted. Anyone who wants to play or sing in front of a group has to pay licensing fees under threat of a lawsuit. Christians threatening to sue other Christians? For singing worship songs? Yes, dear reader, that is the sad state of worship music in the church today.

This sets Clearnote Songbook apart from the worship music bizness. The men behind the Clearnote Songbook are committed to making the music available to the church at no cost. Free.

In addition to recording their music for people to listen to, our musicians have produced high-quality PDF files of everything a worship leader needs to use that music in worship. You'll find lead sheets, chord charts, scores… Even the powerpoint slides to put the lyrics up on a projector! There are hymns, children's music, instrumental pieces, choir pieces...

Every song our musicians have written is copyrighted and then freely shared under a very permissive Creative Commons license. In short, anyone may download anything they find on the site and share and remix to their heart's content. The only requirements are:

  1. they must attribute the work to the original creator
  2. if they alter our work, their new work must also be shared under a similar license
  3. they may not use the work for commercial purposes

In other words, your churches are free to use this work to your heart's content. No licensing fees required, no threats of getting sued...

Take that, CCLI! We've had a hard time picturing the Sons of Asaph rattling their sabres against their fellow Israelites.

War Horn Blog

Another aspect of Clearnote Songbook is the War Horn Blog. Jody has kicked things off with a post explaining the rationale behind Clearnote Songbook. Solid teaching about worship is necessary in our churches and in the weeks and months and years to come, you can expect good stuff to come from Jody, Phil, and other men.


The Liturgy section has much useful content: everything from a nicely formatted Westminster Confession of Faith (cross-indexed to the Westminster Larger Catechism) to calls to worship and assurances of God's mercy and forgiveness (from both Old and New Testament). Those who help plan worship services will want to bookmark the liturgy page. It's not just for worship planners, though: it's spiritual food for all Christians. Use it for your personal and family worship.


If you like what you've seen, would you please take a look at the Support Us page and make a donation? These men have been working hard, they're dirt poor, have tons of children--with more on the way! Clearnote is a hand-to-mouth work and we need your support to keep it going. We hope and pray God will bless this labor of love, and that many other churches will be built up by this, our service to the Lord. If you have anything to contribute other than money, please let us know. We're always looking for more workers.

So now, root around and tell us what you think.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.


I'm praising God for your work, brothers! Thank you!

What a wonderful resource!! We need more work like this. May God richly bless you as you seek to honor him in worship. 

Is there any place to make suggestions? I use Isaiah 12:6 and Numbers 10:35 as Scripture Sentences from the OT. 

Interesting rendition of Man of Sorrows, I like it.

Hi Peter,

Thanks very much for you kind words. Suggestions can be made over on the Contact Us page of the Songbook. The link is in the footer of the site.



Calvin? Reform of worship?

And no mention of the G&N consequence of the Second Commandment in the P&R confessions, i.e.  the RegPrinciple of Worship?

Or acapella Psalmody?

After all a  return to psalmody was of the four items proposed by Calvin that got him kicked out of Geneva in the first place, along with oversight of the Lord's table, catechism and reform of marriage laws.

Neither was there any musical instrument accompaniment in the reformed worship of Geneva. Calvin and the reformed thought it to be judaizing, in that it was a return to the ceremonial worship of the temple.

Nor does the more recent Scottish Presbyterian James Begg disagree with Calvin. The little ditty on the title page of his Anarchy in Worship (1875) reads:

"When nations are to perish in their sins,

'Tis in the church the leprosy begins."

(Select Works of James Begg, Puritan Reprints, 2007)

Thank you.

Well, Calvin, Luther, and Begg all made mistakes, too :) Don't let the details of their reforms distort the spirit of their reforms: The church reformed, always reforming!

Don't let the details of their reforms distort the spirit of their reforms:

That sounds too much like the PCUSA and ELCA.

David, all I meant is that the writings, thoughts, and practices of John Calvin and the other reformers, while immensely good and helpful, are neither Scripture nor infallible. Where they erred, we must reform their errors.

David, all I meant is that the writings, thoughts, and practices of John Calvin and the other reformers, while immensely good and helpful, are neither Scripture nor infallible.


Where they erred, we must reform their errors.

True.  I don't see any reason though to think Calvin in error when he set forth what was essentially the regulative principle.

David Gray and bobsuden,

Before my wife and I were married she was a member of a reformed denomination that holds tenaciously to the regulative principle. She and I are of the same mind regarding worship, and the disagreement between the regulative principle of worship versus the kind of worship commanded by Psalms 150 and 33 (that is, worshiping God with "new songs" and instruments) is a well-worn rut for us and many of our friends in that reformed denomination. I don't know for sure, but I would hazard a bet that it is also a well-worn rut for the readers and authors of this blog. As it has been explained to me, the regulative principle prohibits the use of instruments and non-psalms in the public, corporate worship of God's people, which is typically for a few hours every Sunday. Fine. I encourage you to peruse the ClearNote Songbook on the other six days of the week, and use it as an aid to your private worship and family worship. This is no affront to the regulative principle, and would allow you and your family to be aided in your worship the other six days of the week; and bring you into closer fellowship with other Christians; and allow you to reap the benefits of the hard work that these servants of the church have done and given as a free will offering to build up the church.

The Bible explicitly calls for the use of hymns so I don't see the regulative principle limiting corporate singing to the Psalms.  And I agree that we have a great deal more options for our use outside of corporate worship.  I use a little contemporary Christian music outside church (mostly Michael Card and a bit of Petra) so I'd be open to checking out Clearnote at some point.

Everybody check it out now!  Why waste any time?!  ;)  

Everybody check it out now!  Why waste any time?!  ;) 

Listening to Bach is not wasting time.  :)

Abram, the phrase is:

Ecclesia reformata est semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei

The reformed church is always being reforming by/according to the Word of God. See M.Horton's article at Ligonier: (no hyperlink allowed)

IOW we don't always need to be tearing down what the church has attained to in doctrine, but return to them in practice.

Again, the RPW is the G&N consequences of the 2nd commandment as per the 3Forms and the West. Stands. Basically most modern P&R churches have forgotten there is such a thing, though Prof. Frame's redefinition of things hasn't helped either.

David, "psalms, hymns" and "songs" are the headings for the  psalms. Thus WCF 21:5  for psalmsinging has Eph. 5, Col.3 as proof texts.

Thank you.

Dear Abram, 

Thanks for your helpful comments.

It would be good if Reformed folk would apply semper reformanda to their worship, particularly those whose only point of separation is their claim that regulative principle worship is defined by Psalter-only, a capella. Imagine making a principle out of not singing the songs of Heaven recorded in the book of Revelation. Not singing the Name of Jesus!

But not to worry. These folks point out that people who want to sing the Name of Jesus can't find a syllogism and don't know Greek.

The irony is our local Psalter-only, a capella congregation (which Clearnote Church has joined in worship a number of times) always uses a pitch pipe. And my friend who serves under this same group in Africa tells me their African churches use drums.

Well, there you have it: both rhythm and tune. So instruments are alive and well in the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Just don't tell them.

Now if we could just get them to sing the Trinitarian praises of the Doxology or Gloria Patri.


I commend you for all the effort you have put in this Songbook. Many churches and church musicians will be blessed by the contents, especially because so much of it is freely available. Hymnals aren't cheap, especially for new church plants, so this should also be a great resource to them.

Also, if churches don't have a denomination-wide book of worship (like the Anglicans' Book of Common Prayer or the Lutherans' Service Book [name is not exact]), you may have provided them fresh ideas for wedding, funeral, and other liturgies.


1.How did the apostles directly address Jesus?
Did they call him, " Jesus" or "Lord"?
And if the latter, what ought we to do?

2. The problem with using Revelation as a directory/example for worship, is that inevitably more is allowed than one bargains for, such as white robes, crowns, incense, candles etc. IOW the worship becomes more anglican than reformed.

3. Pitch pipes et al don't accompany the singing, but are only a help. FTM if you have perfect pitch has some people do, you don't need them, just as if you have a photographic memory you don't need a song book. Either that or by constant use have the songs memorized.

But these are all standard answers to the common objections. IOW do we really know both sides of the question, much more what is the original confessional reformed position?

thank you we really know both sides of the question

For clarity, are you asking this for all, including yourself, or are you using 'we' in the sense of 'you' the ig-nern't?

What do you think, Max?

Much more is it a legitimate question?

To put it another way, I got pretty tired of hearing Calvin appealed to for all kinds of things when I was in the PCA so I started collecting everything I could find by Calvin in English just to check up. (No, it wasn't as bad as hearing a letter perfect rendition of the 5 points of arminianism from a UPCUSA member and being told that that was what Calvin taught.)

Two, as a freshman in a jesuit prep high school, I was taught there are primary texts and secondary texts when it come to history. Now granted, Rome doesn't do to well when it comes to the primary text of Scripture, but you get the point.

IOW, if the post hadn't brought up Calvin and "reform" in the first place, then I wouldn't have said boo.

But that's not what happened.

Fair enough.

But then game on.

IOW There is such a thing as truth and we can know it, even  how we are to worship God.

Thank you.

The post says,

Five hundred years ago, John Calvin worked to reform every part of the Church's worship. We must give ourselves to this same work today.

It does not say that the author is the perfect keeper of John Calvin or of the elements and circumstances of the regulative principle, as John Calvin articulates them. That is your claim, apparently.

Can we follow the argument?

"Ecclesia reformata est semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei" or the popular contraction to "Semper Reformandum" does not mean that the church reinvents the wheel in every generation in order to remain fresh, spontaneous or reformed.

Rather the church reforms its practice according to the attainments of the Reformed confessions and builds upon them.

Originally Calvin and the P&R churches affirmed and practiced acapella psalmody. That's a fact of history. Over time, the P&R churches fell away from that practice without   really answering the arguments for the same. Rather  they were summarily dismissed.

Which is pretty much what is going on here. We have not so much as even heard there is a thing as the RPW and the elements and circumstances in worship are in such a flux that of course we may articulate them in a more modern fashion.

Besides they didn't even have computers back then.

IOW God forbid that the modern P&R churches might have something to learn from the original reformed churches on basic principles.

Thank you.

Can we follow the argument?

The argument espoused by Tim in the post? I have followed it. You, however, continue to want to argue something else. Your argument is that no one can speak of worship reform unless they are first acapella psalmody.  Ok, write a post and put it on your blog. We will all rush right over. Not to discourage disagreement in the comments but, according to your argument here, no one is allowed to disagree with you until they agree. (Otherwise they are reinventing the wheel and, of course, there is but one acceptable wheel design)

"Ecclesia reformata est semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei" or the popular contraction to "Semper Reformandum" does not mean that the church reinvents the wheel in every generation in order to remain fresh, spontaneous or reformed.

Who cares whether we have correctly interpreted a latin phrase that is not inspired scripture?

Rather the church reforms its practice according to the attainments of the Reformed confessions and builds upon them.

I would hope she would reform her practice according to the scriptures. 

Calvin and the P&R churches affirmed and practiced acapella psalmody...the P&R churches fell away from that practice without really answering the arguments for the same the satisfaction of those who continued to affirm and practice acapella psalmody.

We have not so much as even heard there is a thing as the RPW 

Heard of it. So has the post's author. If John Calvin suddenly appeared in our (P&R) worship services his first reaction would not be, "What an appalling lack of understanding of the regulative principle of worship."

...forbid that the modern P&R churches might have something to learn from the original reformed churches on basic principles

(see third commandment please)


If John Calvin suddenly appeared in our (P&R) worship services his first reaction would not be, "What an appalling lack of understanding of the regulative principle of worship."

What would his first reaction be?

>>What would his first reaction be?

He'd think to himself, "How awful that they sing the Ten Commandments, but what joy and zeal! And they follow the same liturgy we followed in Geneva. Hey, look all the children!"


Of course in Strasbourg Calvin's liturgy included the singing of the Ten Commandments.  Do you follow each commandment with "Lord Have Mercy"?


At the end of each table we sing this:O, surely all have broken this;Like sheep we’ve gone astray.LORD, clothe us in Your righteousness,And teach us to obey.It's so amazing to sing God's law together. I still haven't gotten over it.

This post is a tag on a present with a short manual on how to use what you find inside. The present is homemade. It took a lot of research, money, know-how, and time. It has form and function and you are excited to give it away.

You know some people don't like this kind of present because it is not purple, they insist that gifts of this sort be purple. You love purple too, and the gift is purple in a lot of places. You've looked into the whole exclusively purple idea, though, and you are convinced it is not right. The gift was not crafted for those people, but you're happy to let them use it on the occasions their consciences permit. Surely they wouldn't dare bring up the color of the gift when you give it away to everyone.

But they do. That same day - while others are saying their thank-you's. On the gift tag you quoted a great man who insisted that purple presents be given. You love this man. He was better than you. He needed to be quoted on the gift tag, not because of the exclusively purple idea, but because he opposed men who insisted that no presents were given of any sort.

By discouraging the givers of this gift, a gift given in faith, you discourage the giving of gifts in faith and become like John Calvin's enemies. "For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them." 

John Calvin was a prophet, but don't get too cozy... not with Calvin, or the early Protestant church, or the early church. We will be judged by the Word of God. I may be judged by worshiping our Lord with guitar music and new songs (I don't believe I am, or I would not do it), but men can be judged by forbidding those things which the Lord does not.

With Love,

Ben Curell

men can be judged by forbidding those things which the Lord does not

You understand that you just expressed the Lutheran principle of worship rather than the Reformed, right?

men can be judged by forbidding those things which the Lord does not

The context is worship, but this stands generally. Can you disagree? We can be judged for giving license where God does not give license and putting up fences where God does not put up fences.

We are fallen. We will sometimes disagree on what God has and has not commanded; this confusion it is part of the tragedy of that fall. But there is absolute truth, as one of the commenters pointed out, and forbidding something that is not forbidden in the Word of God is not safer than permitting it just because you are being restrictive rather than permissive. 

They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

The context is worship, but this stands generally.

In the context of worship we are permitted what God permits.  The Lutheran understanding is we are permitted all of what God does not forbid.

Max, the argument is that the songbook offered is in the spirit of Calvin and reform.

But if we don't really know what Calvin stood for, how can that be is my question.

So far I haven't seen an answer other than something like who are you to say what Calvin stood for.

But if the 3Forms/West.Stands. are calvinistic and as per the 2nd commandment 'whatsoever God does not commands is forbidden in worship' then:

When the OT Book of Praise implicitly and explicitly tells us to praise God in psalm, hymn and song (which are the titles for the songs in that book),   then we are to use that Book of Praise in worship in the Old - and in the New (Eph.5, Col. 3).

Further if God only commanded musical accompaniment in the temple worship and it only accompanied the sacrifices, in the New the types have been fulfilled and done away with.

Hence Calvin and the rest of the reformed considered instrumental accompaniment to be judaizing.

Obviously we have come along ways from there. Personally I am not at all persuaded that it has been progress. Of course, your mileage may vary, but 'to the law and the testimony'. After all, speaking of the third commandment, isn't that what an oath or form of subscription to the confessions is all about?

Thank you.

David, Ben definitely did NOT put forward the Lutheran/permissive definition that you are claiming he did. Rather, he simply stated that forbidding something that God permits is sin. There are ditches on both sides of the right road.

Bob, musical instruments in worship predate Solomon's Temple. They were instituted in a series of reforms and reorganizations under King David when the Ark of the Covenant was installed at the Davidic sanctuary on Mt. Zion. Animal sacrifices were still being performed by priests at Gibeon, and the musical offerings are distinct and separate from that. Once Solomon's temple was completed, the Ark and the animal sacrifices were performed together in the new temple.

I highly recommend Peter Leithart's book From Silence to Song to provide a more thorough explanation of the institution of music in OT worship, and its NT implications. The book is only 150 pages, and not a difficult read. 

The music didn't only accompany sacrifices, but was in itself a sacrifice of praise, and the creation of trained groups of Levites who would worship primarily through song and instrument was not an innovation, but an application, by King David, of the Mosaic instructions regarding worship.


If God permits it then it should be easy to show.

Which is why I just recommended the Leithart book. 

Read it. He shows it.

My dear brothers,

We've never claimed to hold to Psalter-only, a capella, which means we think Calvin was wrong on this point. However, Psalter-only a capella men don't get to define the Regulative Principle. May I say it publicly?

I think it's ludicrous to speak of the instruments of Old Testament worship only being played to cover over the sound of the animals being sacrificed. Utterly ludicrous.

The fact of pitch pipes in American Psalter-only, a capella and drums in African Psalter-only, a capella worship was dismissed in a way that any of those of us who reject Psalter-only, a capella worship recognize as lacking gravity. Which is to say unconvincing.

Fact is, Calvin is right on so very, very, very much that we ought not to fault him for being wrong on Psalter-only, a capella. As I say to my Baptist godly and wise and Biblical and Reformed brothers, John Piper and Charles  Spurgeon are wrong on baptism to remind us that no one gets everything right, so why should Calvin?

Yes, we sing spiritual songs and hymns, as well as songs. And we sing the glorious Name of Jesus. And we use the Old Testament instruments--and then some. And we follow the Geneva liturgy. And we sing the Ten Commandments. And we sing the Gloria Patri and the Doxology. (Added later: actually, we don't sing the Gloria Patri, but in my former churches, we did.)

And if you, dear brother, have a problem with that, more power to you. Find a Reformed Presbyterian church and settle in for the long haul--the really, really long haul. And reassure yourself each Lord's Day morning that you have a principle that trumps fellowship, house to house breaking of bread, application in preaching, and vital and discerning pastoral care, as well as almost any church disicpline short of excommunication.

Breaking the bonds of Covenanter ethinicity is not allowed and Psalter-only, a capella is the rubric justifying it.

There they stand, they can do no other, and no one can help them.

You think I'm unfair?

But now, really; is the release of the Clearnote Songbook a polite, a propitious, a felicitous time to show ingratitude and shoot spitwads?

Let me say it again: with John Calvin as one of our key inspirations, we move on reforming the church and her worship according to the same Biblical principles that Calvin stood on to reform the worship of His Day. Start with the order of worship and the lliturgy, then move on to the fencing of the Lord's Table. Then, when you've got those two under your belt, move on to church life--fellowship and pastoral care and discipline.

As someone ought to have said, there's more to worship than music and more to the Church than Lord's Day corporate worship.


But really, is the release of the Clearnote Songbook a felicitous, a propitious, a polite time to show your ingratitude and shoot spitwads?

I'm not a Psalter only man but whether this is a propitious time to differ in part depends on whether the project is right or not.  If it is right enough said.  If it is wrong there would not be a better time to point it out.

I believe in fencing the table and I like Calvin's liturgy, having just walked our congregation through it in Sunday School.  Much discussion on absolution.

>>If it is wrong...

My dear brother, it's not wrong. But you know, if it is it might be best for those who believe it so to show it on their own blog. We have work to do and can't waste our time burying the dead.

This might strike some as a summary dismissal of the Psalter-only, a capella ghetto.

It may well be.

These men have poured their lives into this work, have done it for no pay, and thus they need to be encouraged. As I see it, that's little to ask and little to give.


This might strike some as a summary dismissal of the Psalter-only, a capella ghetto.

Not really as I just stated I was not a Psalter-only man and you appear to be replying to me. 

>>you appear to be replying to me. 

Well, I suppose I'm looking for some sharing of all good things with those who teach on Baylyblog. I want these men encouraged in their work by Baylyblog readers who aren't Psalter-only, a capella.

Do we really think that writing for free on the internet without demanding that readers pay royalties is the one place where ingratitude is welcome?

I'm pretty accepting of disagreement with my own posts, but when it comes to my sons, I will defend them. There's no reason for this post to be the place on Baylyblog where ghetto nitpickers raise their sectarian flags.

I'll leave it at that.


I want these men encouraged in their work by Baylyblog readers who aren't Psalter-only, a capella.

Good, you aren't talking to me then as I'm NOT Psalter-only OR a capella.  Best wishes.

From me, earlier in the discussion:

The Bible explicitly calls for the use of hymns so I don't see the regulative principle limiting corporate singing to the Psalms.

Yes, David; I agree.

And let me add that I'm not at all trying to discourage critiques of the music itself. That would be very helpful, partly because it would show that some readers think the work is worth doing, and perfecting.


This past weekend I purchased and downloaded the demos vol 1 and vol 2 albums and burned them to CD for my wife and kids for Christmas. (Don't tell them, it's a surprise) -- And after about six attempts I even got the cover art printed out with the track list on the back. We've already done some work previously on learning Now Thank We All Our God, and the kids have the chorus of Fullness of Time memorized, but what a joy it will be to learn those well along with Psalm 130/I Wait for the Lord (so sweet too, the story of the writing of this), We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought, The Ten Commandments, and others both familiar (to me but not to our kids) and unknown. It's hard to wait till Christmas to give it.

Thanks, men, for your work. And thanks, wives and children of the musicians, who gave up time with your husbands and fathers while this project was in development. May the Lord multiply the time to you and may you all have the joy of seeing soldiers of the cross strengthened for battle by these songs of Zion you gave to the Lord to put together.


Andrew, like most of the other FV men,  Liethart can't give us the confessional definition of the RPW and two, he begs the question by substituting analogies in the place of God's commandment to David re. instruments in 2 Chron.29:25 

The classic American defense of the position by Girardeau he can only refute and  relegate  to a footnote on p.111. But since the PCA is the continuing church of Thornwell and Dabney and Dabney agreed with Girardeau, well,  go figure.


I do not  worship in an acapella psalmody church now nor have I always in the past  which should be enough said regarding ingratitude and spitballs.

But neither did I bring up Calvin or reform  in the first place.

IOW, I'll for once go with the jesuit take rather than the PCA on this one. Can we determine what the RPW is and its proper application from the primary sources,  or has modernity superseded all those "what is truth" questions, much more that the ungrateful and divisive RPW should be euthanized at long last and laid in its grave? 

Thank you.

Sometime we're also going to need at least a demo-level recording of Am I a Soldier of the Cross? Till then I'll keep cranking my rough cut...

Bob, Liethart's understanding is bad because he's FV, but you'll side with the Jesuits? Ok...


Read the thread.


I was taught by a jesuit in freshman history class that if you are going to do history, there are primary texts and secondary texts. Guess which ones are more authoritative?

And the same might go for historical theology, right? IOW anybody that knows something about both sides of the question, might have a distinct opinion on who was mis-characterizing who in this discussion.

That as regards Calvin, semper reformandum and modern P&R conceptions of worship.

Liethart since you brought him up, belong with the last and he's bad news on the RPW and baptism too, if you read his on that.


Dear Bob,

Bobby Knight tells us his wife is in the habit of saying to him, "The horse is dead. Get off it."


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