15 Jun 2014
New Zealand sings to the Lord
A few days ago I received a copy of the new psalter and hymnal published by the Reformed Churches of New Zealand, titled, Sing to the Lord. The RCNZ appears to have only 19 congregations, which makes it all the more impressive that such a small denomination should produce so high quality a collection. It is similar in feel to the various editions of the Christian Reformed Church's Psalter Hymnal, with the psalter texts based largely on the 1912 Psalter of the former United Presbyterian Church in North America.
The Psalms are numbered 1 through 150, with some psalms boasting more than one versification. When this occurs, the Psalm number is generally followed by A or B. Some Psalms are too long to be sung to a single tune, such as Psalm 119, where each of the Hebrew letters is given a different metrical treatment and tune. Somewhat to my surprise, given the Dutch origins of the RCNZ, only 14 of the Genevan tunes are used in this collection. These are Psalms 6, 25, 42, 47, 65, 68, 77, 81, 105, 116, 118, 124, 134 and 150.
Unlike especially the grey Psalter Hymnal and the Dutch Liedboek voor de Kerken, Sing to the Lord does not have a separate section for Bible songs or canticles. These are included in the second section, titled simply "Hymns" and are arranged topically. For example, my own text, Christ Who Is in the Form of God, based on Philippians 2:6-11, is included under the subsection "God the Son." Nor is there any effort to organize the hymns according to the church year. Nevertheless, there is an Index of Bible Songs (813-814), as well as a Topical Index (815-842) in which the feasts and seasons of the ecclesiastical calendar are matched with appropriate psalms and hymns.
At the beginning of the volume is a section containing the Lord's Prayer, the three Ecumenical Creeds and the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism. The Reformed confessions are absent, as are the various liturgical forms found in similar collections serving the churches. This volume is already fairly hefty, so perhaps these resources are found in a separate volume.
The Reformed Churches of New Zealand are part of the International Conference of Reformed Churches and are in communion with the Canadian Reformed Churches, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the United Reformed Churches in North America and the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (Vrijgemakt), among others.