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

Every day we praise and worship our God 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 either by reading or singing them. They have some differences depending upon their origin, way of singing, 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 which are used for worship of God. On the other hand, spiritual songs are a method for the believer 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 Bible 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 as a part of scripture because it is not written from the inspiration of the holy spirit. Hymns are generally formed under a larger category of definition. It is a traditional song that is sung for praising God with a particular rhythm in public.

Spiritual Song is considered are 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 they are inspired by the holy spirit itself. 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 generally 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 to 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 are originated from the Greek word “hymns” which means ‘song of praise’. It is found in different 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 in the form of prayer towards our deity or deities.

Hymnists (those who write hymns) composed hymns in 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 are also known as spirituals, Nergo spirituals, or African American spirituals are created by African Americans and later combined in African culture involved in the experience of slavery or bonded labor in the slave trade. At that time, it’s sung for sourcing encourages in salve trade movement.

In the starting time, a spiritual song was sung as sing songs, work songs, and plantation songs but later merged into songs that were sung in church like blues and gospel songs. This type of song is inspired by the holy spirit and show devotional sign of spiritual lives.

Main Difference Between Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

  1. Psalms and hymns are generally sung in public worship and praise of God whereas Spiritual songs are used in personal and social use.
  2. Psalms origin are found in Christian and Hebrew Bible, hymn origin is traced in Egypt and Greek text whereas spiritual song origin is found in African Americans culture.
  3. Psalms are sung to praise God; hymns are sung for showing worshippers’ attitude towards God whereas spiritual songs are sung for the emancipation of the Slavery trade.
  4. Psalms are for expressing admiration towards God, hymns are emotional poetic songs whereas spiritual songs are generally for encouraging souls for the social cause.
  5. Psalms are written by the divine leader which is 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.


Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are used by the believer to show their faith and 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.

Psalms and hymns are restricted with the language barrier but their main function is the admiration of God. Both these are connected with religious scriptures and text. 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 of the world that’s why it is called subcategories of folk song.


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