26 May 2010

Singing the Psalms: a Reformed lectionary

Pierre Pidoux's edited volume, Le psautier huguenot du XVIe siècle: Mélodies et documents, contains a fascinating lectionary for singing through the entire Psalter in the course of 25 weeks, or approximately half a year. This was used in Geneva during the 16th century. I am unaware of any Reformed denomination, at least in North America, prescribing such a pattern for its congregations. Note that it presupposes two sunday worship services and a wednesday "day of prayers." When I was a child, our church congregation had a midweek prayer meeting. This chart makes it clear that such a gathering has historical precedent. The reference to the second ringing of the bell may arouse curiosity nowadays given the lack of bells in most contemporary church buildings. Click on the image below to bring it up in a larger and more legible format.

My question is whether it would be in order to revive the use of this or a similar lectionary to ensure that the entire Psalter will be covered on a regular basis in the church's liturgy. It is worth at least serious consideration.

Crossposted at First Things: Evangel

13 May 2010

Singing the psalms: bluegrass

I have sometimes thought, only partly tongue-in-cheek, that I should try to recover my former competence on the banjo after some four decades away and arrange at least a few of the Genevan Psalm tunes for bluegrass. It seems someone got there ahead of me. No, it isn't a Genevan tune, but it definitely is the banjo and it's even in Hebrew. Here's Psalm 89:

Ascension Day

Today the church recalls the ascension of Christ to heaven, where he sits at the right hand of God the Father. In the liturgies for this day, the assigned psalm is often Psalm 47: “God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!” Here is the Genevan tune for this psalm, sung in French:

Here is my own English versification:

Clap your hands, all you peoples of the earth,
shout to God with a song of joyful mirth!
Hold the Most High our LORD in reverent awe.
Our great King rules the peoples with his law;
he has put all the nations in their place;
he has chosen us, Jacob, in his grace.

God ascends amid great resounding cries,
with the blast of the trumpet see him rise!
Sing to God, all your praises to him sing,
let your praises be rendered to our King!
For our God is the Ruler of the earth;
sing his praise, sing to him with psalms of mirth!

God reigns over the nations here below,
from his throne his decrees down to them flow.
Princes gather from earth’s remote extent
with God’s people of Abraham’s descent.
All the shields of the earth to God belong;
let us highly exalt him with our song!

Text and harmonization copyright © 1999 by David T. Koyzis.

9 May 2010

Psalm 119 files

I have now posted eleven pdf files for my complete versification of Psalm 119 with music.