29 May 2012

Versifying the Psalms: a speed record?

This is from Imre Revesz, History of the Hungarian Reformed Church (Washington, DC: The Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, 1956):
The great name in connection with the versifying of the Psalms, an idea he learned abroad, is that of Albert Molnar Szenczi (pronounced "Sentsi"). He himself tells us that he completed the whole Psalter in Hungarian verse in less than a hundred days.
Not knowing the Hungarian language, I am not competent to judge the literary quality of Molnar's versifications. But even if it were in stilted or clumsy Hungarian, I question his claims to have completed these in so short a span of time. The Genevan Psalter itself took at least 23 years to complete, and it has taken me some 27 years to versify just over half of the Psalms in English. Could Molnar really have produced his metrical psalter in just over three months?

27 May 2012

PR Psalm Choir: Psalm 134

During its recent concert, the Protestant Reformed Psalm Choir sang Psalm 134, using the text of their own Psalter as set to the arrangement by, well, yours truly.

17 May 2012

Psalm 23

Here is the latest upload to my Byzantine Calvinist youtube channel:

16 May 2012

Stolz: Psalm 20

Ernst Stolz is moving a little more slowly through the Psalms these days. Here is his performance of Psalm 20:

12 May 2012

PR Psalm Choir: Psalm 46

Joshua Hoekstra has been posting videos of the recent concert by the Protestant Reformed Psalm Choir in Grandville, Michigan. Here the choir sings Psalm 46, according to the familiar version in the Scottish Psalter of 1650, as set to the tune Stroudwater:

The group will be releasing a CD of their performances later this year. We wish them God's blessings in this endeavour. The Protestant Reformed sing from the 1912 Psalter, whose centenary we observe this year.

9 May 2012

Psalms for All Seasons

Ben Myers reviews the new collection, Psalms for All Seasons, published earlier this year by Brazos Press and Faith Alive Christian Resources. From Myers' review:

I sometimes worry that our hymnbooks – where you have a more or less arbitrary selection of songs, arranged by various doctrinal and liturgical themes – create the impression that worship is a matter of human choice. You choose your Sunday hymns as you might choose a dessert from the menu at a restaurant; and you choose them on the basis of thematic relevance (this week, let's sing about love; this week, let's sing about forgiveness), so that entire dimensions of human experience might never once enter into the singing of a congregation.

But with psalmody as an overarching structure, the congregation is invited to share in experiences that might seem quite remote from their own everyday concerns. That is why we find some of the psalms so offensive: we simply cannot conceive of such experiences, even though they are – manifestly – genuine human possibilities. Instead of criticising such psalms, we need to learn how to sing them.

Our own private griefs are, often enough, quite paltry: but we are invited to join in the gigantic earth-shaking laments of the psalms. Our own criteria for happiness are selfish and small: but we are allowed to share in the magnificent heaven-rending joys of the psalmist. Our own love for God is so feeble that we might even forget all about God for days at a time: but our hearts are torn wide open as we join our voices to the enormous lovesick longing of the psalmist's praise. We are safe, affluent, protected, untroubled by enemies or oppression: but we learn to join our voices to the psalmist's indignant cries for the catastrophic appearance of justice on the earth.

If your congregation sings only Hillsong choruses, then their emotional repertoire will be limited to about two different feelings (God-you-make-me-happy, and God-I'm-infatuated-with-you) – considerably less even than the emotional range of a normal adult person. It is why entire congregations sometimes seem strangely adolescent, or even infantile: they lack a proper emotional range, as well as a suitable adult vocabulary. But in the psalter one finds the entire range of human emotion and experience – a range that is vastly wider than the emotional capacity of any single human life.

Myers obviously echoes Calvin in his eloquent defence of psalm-singing. I've not yet seen Psalms for All Seasons, but I hope to do so soon.

3 May 2012

Psalm Choir concert

Joshua Hoekstra, director of the Protestant Reformed Psalm Choir, has just uploaded a recording of  his group singing Genevan Psalm 105:

This is from his notes accompanying the video:

This video is being published in advance of the May 6, 2012 Psalm Choir concert to help draw attention to the concert. This video is also intended to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Genevan Psalter. This song will be included in the upcoming concert by the Psalm Choir and was recorded on April 22, 2012. Performance by the Psalm Choir of Psalm 105, Psalter 425 titled "Unto the Lord Lift Thankful Voices."
The concert will take place at the Grandville Protestant Reformed Church, Grandville, Michigan. I would love to be able to attend, were it not for the distance. Nevertheless, I wish this ensemble all the best as they sing God's praises in his own words.