Difference Between Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (With Table)

Difference Between Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (With Table)

We praise and worship our God daily through songs, reading, and praying. Singing is one of the ways of praising god, which will continue in heaven. Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs are used to worship God by reading or singing them. They differ depending on their origin, way of singing, and words. Etc.

Psalms vs Hymns vs Spiritual Songs

The main difference between Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs is that Psalms are spiritual songs or poems, whereas Hymns are songs created by humans used to worship God. On the other hand, spiritual songs allow believers to express their spiritual faith in song.

Difference Between Psalms Hymns and Spiritual Songs

Psalms mean “praise”. Psalms, or the book of Psalms, is a collection of songs written by ancient leaders like Solomon, Moses, and David. These songs are part of the Hebrew and Christian bible and are used in cooperative worship of God. It is a collection of 150 poems that are obtained from scriptures.

Hymns are a song that gives thanksgiving to God. It is not considered a part of scripture because it is not written from the inspiration of the holy spirit. Hymns are formed under a larger category of definition. It is a traditional song praising God with a particular rhythm in public.

Spiritual Song is considered a part of Psalms. The spiritual song helps in learning about the power of God, good faith, and love towards good works. These songs don’t directly praise God, but the holy spirit inspires them. Spiritual songs are inspiring and spontaneous.

Comparison Table Between Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

Parameter of ComparisonPsalmsHymnsSpiritual Songs
MeaningInstrumental MusicSong of PraiseSubcategories of folk song
OriginThe origin of psalms is found in the ancient BibleThe origin of Hymns is found in Egyptian and Greek cultureThe origin of Spiritual songs is found in African American
PurposePsalms are sung to praise GodThe hymn has a purpose for showing an attitude of worshipper towards his GodSpiritual song Have sung for the emancipation of slavery or bonded labor
TypesSome of the primary types are Communal Laments, Hymns, Royal Psalms, individual laments, and individual thanksgiving psalmsSome of the primary types are free verse, Haiku, sonnets, and acrostic poemSome of the primary types are work songs, sing-songs, and plantation songs.
PropertyIt is for expressing admiration for GodIt is an emotional, poetic type songIt has some social and religious content for encouraging souls.

What is Psalm?

Psalms are books of the Old Testament. Psalm is a Greek word that means “Instrumental Music”. It is divided into 5 sections – Book 1(Psalms1-41), Book 2 (Psalms 42-72), Book 3(73-89), Book 4 (Psalms 90-106), and Book 5(Psalms 107-150). Most of the Psalms are individual titles with single words and lengthy comments.

Psalms are used for addressing God and describing worshippers’ suffering and responsible for suffering to God. It is also dealing with the king’s marriage and battle.

What is Hymn?

Hymns originated from the Greek word “hymns”, which means ‘song of praise’. It is found in religions like Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, etc. Generally, Hymns in English are sung in Christian worship, for example, Amazing Grace. The hymn is a method of showing love or adoration through prayer towards our deity or deities.

Hymnists (those who write hymns) composed hymns coincident with religious songs. It is famous in the Indian subcontinent and survived in Egypt and Greek culture, which can be traced in Greek texts and Indian religious texts like Rigveda.

What is Spiritual Song?

Spiritual songs, also known as spirituals, Nergo spirituals, or African American spirituals, are created by African Americans and later combined with African culture involved in the experience of slavery or bonded labour in the slave trade. At that time, it was sung for sourcing encourages in salve trade movement.

In the starting time, spiritual song was sung as songs, work songs, and plantation songs but later merged into songs that were sung in church, like blues and gospel songs. The holy spirit inspires this type of song and shows devotional signs of spiritual lives.

Main Difference Between Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

  1. Psalms and hymns are sung in public worship and praise of God, whereas Spiritual songs are used in personal and social use.
  2. Psalms origin is found in the Christian and Hebrew Bible; hymn origin is traced in Egypt and Greece, whereas spiritual song originates in African American culture.
  3. Psalms are sung to praise God; hymns are sung to show worshippers’ attitude towards God; spiritual songs are sung for the emancipation of the slave trade.
  4. Psalms express admiration towards God, hymns are emotional and poetic, and spiritual songs encourage souls for a social cause.
  5. The divine leader writes psalms, part of Hebrew scriptures, hymns are not written by a divine leader and not a part of scriptures, whereas spiritual songs are border terms where believer express their faith in song.


The believers use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to show their faith, belief in God, and social use. All three help us to connect with a supreme soul, which shows a path to addressing our problem and solution in front of God.

The language barrier restricts psalms and hymns, but their main function is the admiration of God. Both these are connected with religious scriptures and texts. Whereas spiritual songs are bound with the language, it is sung by everyone in their tone and words. It can be merged into any religion in the world. That’s why it is called a subcategory of folk songs.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43445514
  2. https://scholarworks.harding.edu/bible-facpub/25/
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