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.


Lois said...

It was a pleasure to read your review of Sing to the Lord, published by our Reformed Churches of New Zealand. We are glad you feel it is high quality!

You may be interested in the following additional information. Our biggest source for the versification of the Psalms was Sing Psalms, published by the Free Church of Scotland. They were very helpful and generous, and approximately half of our Psalm texts are from that source. Needless to say, we are very thankful to them.

And yes, you are correct that we did not include our forms and confessions because of the size/weight of the hymnal. These are in the process of being printed in a separate book. It is possible we will combine them with the hymnal in a future printing, using lighter weight paper, but that remains to be seen.

Lois Hoyt

David Koyzis said...


Thanks so much for your comment. I've not seen Sing Psalms, so I was unaware of that source. As I peruse your churches' collection, I'll be on the lookout for this.

It is possible to use thinner paper, I agree. I have my old copy of the OPC's Trinity Hymnal (1961) at hand, and it has 730 psalms and hymns, plus responsive readings of the Psalms, the Westminster Confession, liturgical forms, and indices, yet it's thinner than Sing to the Lord and even a bit lighter in weight. So, yes, it can be done.

Once again you have an impressive collection. Congratulations and God's blessings as you sing his praises.

Lois said...

I have a way of forgetting significant details. I intended to include for clarification: Sing Psalms (Free Church of Scotland) is a fairly recent publication, 2003, and their versifications are entirely new.