28 Jan 2013

Then sings my Seoul: Psalm 10

Here is another lovely performance of a psalm in Korean, posted by our friend Jungwon Hwang. We trust that more such performances will be posted in weeks to come.

Stolz: Psalms 62-64

17 Jan 2013

Heidelberg Catechism: another anniversary

Last year marked the 450th anniversary of the completion of the Genevan Psalter, as well as of the English-language Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter. This year we observe the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism, commissioned by Elector Frederick III "the Pious" of the Palatinate and written by Caspar Olevianus (Olewig) and Zacharius Ursinus (Baer) in 1563. Its first question and answer make it one of the most beloved of the Reformation-era catechisms:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Yes, it's a little on the long side and perhaps not easily memorized. Therefore, in the interest of enabling believers to commit it to their hearts, I here link to my own musical rendition of the first question and answer: I Belong. The text I wrote back in 1986, and the music I composed in 2001. The text follows below:

In life and death, this is my only comfort:
that I belong, in all I do and say,
not to myself, but to my faithful Saviour —
to Jesus Christ, who took my sins away:
with his own blood he made for me atonement
and freed me from the temptor's evil sway.

The Lord provides, for he is very gracious:
he watches over me, therefore I know
that not a hair can from my head be taken
without my Father's willing it be so;
and I believe that all things work together
for my salvation from infernal woe.

Yes, I belong — and this is my true comfort —
to Jesus Christ, who tells me constantly
that I am his and, through his Holy Spirit,
assures me that I'll live eternally;
he makes me want to serve him now and always,
and live in every way obediently.

10 Jan 2013

Then sings my Seoul: Psalms 35 and 40

These are two quite lovely performances of the Psalms in Korean. For both Psalms 35 and 40 a soloist begins and is later joined by another singer in a duet. If I am correctly interpreting the text at 2:42 in the first Psalm, the Korean texts for the Genevan Psalms appear to be of recent vintage. I am grateful that "hwang867" has seen fit to use English captions for our benefit. I hope he will post more such performances in future.

9 Jan 2013

The cattle on a thousand hills

Last evening, as our family was reading a devotional on Psalm 50, I happened to recall a song we had sung when I was growing up: He Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills, written by John W. Peterson. Because I could remember only two lines of the song, I had to look it up. Here it is:

He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,
The wealth in every mine;
He owns the rivers and the rocks and rills,
The sun and stars that shine.
Wonderful riches, more than tongue can tell -
He is my Father so they're mine as well;
He owns the cattle on a thousand hills -
I know that He will care for me.

Although the first and seventh lines are an obvious reference to the fiftieth Psalm, the remainder of the song has little to do with it. Although it expresses a valid sentiment, namely, that God cares for us, this is not the point of the psalm, whose main theme is that Almighty God stands in judgement on those who offer the prescribed sacrifices while remaining content to follow their sinful ways. I quote stanzas 4 and 8 from my own versification of Psalm 50:

“For every forest beast belongs to me,
the cattle on a thousand hills, you see,
each bird that soars aloft within the air,
mine are the beasts that wander everywhere.
If I were hungry, why then should you know it,
when earth is mine and everything within it? . . .

“Think on these things, all who will not recall
that I am God, the ruler over all,
lest you incur my wrath eternally;
but those who bring a grateful heart to me
I grant my favour and show my salvation
to those of righteous ways in every nation.”

It's not particularly catchy, and it probably wouldn't have sold well under the old Singspiration label, but it ought nevertheless to be sung in our churches, along with the rest of the biblical Psalter.

1 Jan 2013

Judit Lengyel: Psalm 22

Tibor Tóth has posted another psalm performance by Hungarian soprano Judit Lengyel:

Given the great length of this psalm, one cannot help wondering whether this was recorded in one session or whether the singer was allowed to catch her breath between recordings. She shows no discernible signs of vocal fatigue after singing the 16 stanzas. One assumes that congregations do not often sing the entire psalm at more than 17 minutes in length, although they would certainly do so appropriately on Good Friday at least.