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Difference Between Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs

Psalms, Hymns, vs Spiritual songs

Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are all sung in the praise of God. They have some basic differences depending upon where they have been taken from, their music and words, the instruments accompanying them, etc.

Psalms is also called the Book of Psalms. It is a book of the Christian Bible and the Hebrew Bible. The book has 150 poems which have been obtained from the Scriptures. Each poem or song is individually referred to as a Psalm. They are always referred to by verse and chapter. They are usually accompanied by stringed instruments or percussion instruments. In the modern times, people add music to the Psalms. For example, the Psalm,”Bless the Lord O My Soul.”
The Psalms are either songs or hymns. Sometimes musical directions are also given with the hymns or songs. One of the popular songs of the Psalms is “The Song of Thanksgiving.” One of the popular hymns of the Psalms is “Hymns of Praise.”

Hermann Gunkel divided the Psalms according to different genres:

Royal Psalms
Complaint Psalms/Lamentations
Thanksgiving Psalms
Wisdom Psalms
Mixed or smaller genres
Songs of Zion
Historical Litanies
Pilgrim Liturgies
Judgment Liturgies
Entrance Liturgies

Hymns are formal and traditional songs which are sung by the congregation in praise of God in public. Traditional hymns have specific tunes, for example, “Amazing Grace.” For hymns, the music is directed in the Book of Psalms. They have a particular rhythm ( Hymns are words or lyrics, and the melodies of the lyrics are interchangeable. The music that is used with hymns is referred to as chordal. For over 100 years hymns have been sung, and their structure is derived from classical music. It usually has a four-part harmony.

Spiritual Songs
Spiritual songs may be described as the songs which are spontaneous and are inspired by the Holy Spirit itself.
They are also referred to as a type of Psalm. In the Book of Psalms the poems are titled under “song” or “hymn.” An example is, “I Will Sing With My Spirit.” Praise songs or worship songs are those songs where music is the main feature of the song and is accompanied by many different instruments. These songs may be influenced by different cultures and music also.


1.Psalms is also called the Book of Psalms which is a book of the Christian Bible and the Hebrew Bible; hymns and songs are different types of Psalms.
2.The Psalms are either songs or hymns; sometimes musical directions are also given with the hymns or songs.

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  1. This article is highly deficient for a biblical understanding of the distinctions in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Under no circumstances would a ‘spiritual song’ be understood as inspired by the Holy Spirit. What is inspired by the Spirit is Scripture, and only the Psalms fall into that category. Many of the other comments here are just ridiculous. Since I don’t have space or permission to write a critique of this post, I would refer the reader to this article: http://www.gotquestions.org/psalms-hymns-spiritual-songs.html (I have no connection to it).

    • Thank you Sir/ Ma’am who wrote this. And for the person with the obscene comment if “PSALMS” only fall into what is inspired by God then what do you thing about the book “Song of Songs” written by Solomon. Holy men Inspired by God wrote all of it. The books, the psalms and the songs. Srudy some more Sir

    • I take a courteous exception to Bud Fox’s comment “Under no circumstances would a ‘spiritual song’ be understood as inspired by the Holy Spirit.” I write hymns, spiritual songs, and children’s religious songs, and I have felt the influence of the Holy Spirit while writing, regardless of genre. Each genre of religious music fits a different need, has a different audience, and can lead someone to God. Therefore we need not deny the Holy Spirit’s influence just because it isn’t the musical ‘language’ that we understand and appreciate.

    • All scripture is God inspired and useful…

  2. The words, ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’, used by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (5:19) and to the Colossians (3:16) in the New Testament, are taken from the book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible, which is divided up into three sections, each of which has a different heading: “mizmor” (generally translated as “psalm”), “tehillah” (a “hymn” or “praise”) and “shir” (usually “song”).

    Paul, as a Jew, translated the Hebrew directly into Greek, from which, when the New Testament was translated into English, we get the words which categorise the Psalms in general.

  3. Song of Solomon i mean.

  4. Wait. (Completely off topic) but.. “inspired by the Holy Spirit “itself”? Sigh. The Holy Spirit is not an “it”. He is a person. He is God’s Holy Spirit. Bible says dont grieve the Holy Spirit. He has feelings. He’s not a force, things, energy or an “it”. Sorry that I had to be THAT person not commenting on the actual article lol but come on now.

    • I noticed the ‘it’ as well, denoting the Holy Spirit. Oh dear where are we going. The it you are referring to has all the attributes of a divine Person, with the Father and the Son, co equal, co divine. The third Person of the Triune God. Mike.

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