18 Mar 2011

The Politics of the Psalms

Perhaps it has something to do with my first name, but I have always been fascinated by the biblical book of the Psalms. I grew up singing from a hymn book in which the Psalms set to meter were given a prominent place. The liturgical practice of singing the Psalms has ancient roots going back to temple and synagogue worship, finding its way also into Christian churches. It is thus not surprising that, until the end of the 18th century, the majority of Protestants sang from metrical psalters containing all 150 Psalms. Most Protestants since then have abandoned this practice, but many in the Reformed tradition have held to it, glorifying God, as it is often said, in his own words.

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2 comments:

Peter said...

Can you tell me which Psalms and other material were published in the very first Psalter produced for Geneva - 1539?
I could not find a way to email you on the website.

David Koyzis said...

I thought I had had a pdf copy of the 1539 Strassbourg edition in my possession, but I cannot seem to locate it at the moment. The title is Aulcuns Pseaulmes et cantiques mys en chant . In the meantime you might look at John D. Witvliet, Worship Seeking Understanding, p. 28, footnote 22:

"In 1539, the psalter included the following psalms on the theme of confession and forgiveness: 32, 51,, 103, 130 (Marot), 25, 36 (Calvin); these wisdom/law psalms: 1, 15, 19 (Marot); and the Ten Commandments. The only explicit psalms of praise included were those that were linked to the Lord's Supper (113, 138), as well as Psalm 104. Several psalms featured the theme of God's protection as a refuge from enemies: 3, 46, 91, 114, 137, 143."

I hope this is helpful.