msnbc.com
updated 11/20/2010 8:15:46 AM ET 2010-11-20T13:15:46

A Scottish church has voted to allow the singing of hymns and playing of musical instruments for the first time in 160 years, according to a report.

The Free Church of Scotland, which split from the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1843, currently only allows unaccompanied psalm singing during public worship.

The BBC reported that commissioners of the church voted by a majority of 14 — 98 to 84 —a plenary assembly in Edinburgh to allow hymns and instruments.

The vote had been called by conservatives who argued they should consult the church's membership before making a decision, the BBC said. It was the first plenary session since the church was founded.

"There are few of us who believe it is sinful to sing hymns ... If worship in other (churches) is acceptable to God how can it be unacceptable in our church?" one supporter of the move told the assembly, according to the church's website. "Many of us love to quote from hymns. I can speak a hymn, but if I ask you to sing it it is unacceptable?"

Supporters hope the move will attract more people to the church.

And the Reverend David Robertson, minister of St Peter's Free Church in Dundee, argued that traditional psalms would still be sung despite the decision, the BBC reported.

However, a report by the Church Board of Trustees said the rules should stay the same.

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