16 Apr 2013

Congregational singing: Psalm 138

The Canadian Reformed Churches are virtually the only churches in North America that sing from the Genevan Psalter in its entirety on a regular basis. Frank Ezinga posted this rendition of a CanRef congregation singing Psalm 138, whose tune seems to have been the basis for the familiar hymn melody, MIT FREUDEN ZART. Notice the lag between the organist's entrance and the congregation's entrances at the beginning of phrases. I first encountered this at a Christian Reformed Church in Hamilton 25 years ago, and it drove me crazy at first. My understanding is that this is the way congregations sing in the Netherlands, but it takes getting used to by those unfamiliar with it.


JohnV said...

Hi Dr. Koyzis:

I've been wondering about the hesitation as well. I've been brought up in a Reformed church, but this kind of singing I just don't understand. Saying that this is how they do things in Holland isn't enough of an explanation for me.

Is it traditionally Genevan, tied to the tunes? Or i it part of Dutch traditional church singing? (It isn't by my experience.) Or is it European, as opposed to New World?

I notice that there are a number of other differences as well: are they a result of the Genevan style of music, or from Dutch (or from European) tradition?


David Koyzis said...


I myself don't know the explanation, so I cannot presume to answer your question. One of my retired colleagues may know the answer, so I'll ask him and report back here. It is indeed puzzling for someone outside that tradition.

Bonefaas Family said...


I am a member of the Canadian Reformed Church in Winnipeg. And I must say that the legging drives me crazy too.

From my experience in the church (both in the Netherlands and in Canada)I do not think that there is a relation between the singing and a Dutch or European tradition. Because there are churches in the federation were there is little to no legging.

For this reason I would say that a lot depends on teaching and if the accompanist is willing to lead the congregation in a certain way and not give the opportunity to leg.

Just my two cents worth...

Rob Bonefaas