7 Dec 2017

Psałterz Poznański: an interview with Andrzej Polaszek

A complete Polish-language Psalter using the Genevan tunes is on its way. In the meantime, the first fifty psalms have now been published. This is a modified google translation from Polish taken from the website of the Tolle Lege Institute:

Tolle Lege: First of all, congratulations on the release of the first fifty psalms, and we look forward to more. Could you tell us in a few words what the Psałterz Poznański is?

Andrzej Polaszek: Thank you. We are working intensively to make the whole come out in 2020. Psałterz Poznański is a project that aims to renew the custom of singing psalms in evangelical churches and Christian homes. Our intention is to develop a complete set of 150 psalms in contemporary Polish with notes and chords. The Psalter will be accompanied by a number of promotional tools and events: a psalterz.pl website, recordings, concerts, conferences. We hope that our psalms will be included in the repertoire of musicians representing different styles of Christian music.
 

TL: As a source of melody, you chose the sixteenth-century Genevan Psalter. What is it and why did you decide on these melodies?
 

AP: The Genevan Psalter was created on the initiative of [John] Calvin and is the best-known sixteenth-century psalter in the world. The Psalms were sung to these melodies in, among other languages, French, English, German, Hungarian and Dutch. At the end of the 16th century, the Rev. Maciej Rybiński, bishop of the Greater Poland Unity (Bohemian Brethren) created the Psalter with the French Melodies in Polish. It has been published over a dozen or so, and it has also been published, along with notes, in some editions of the Gdańsk Bible, which testifies to its wide range and popularity.

We decided to reach for Geneva's melodies because they are beautiful. My wife, looking from the perspective of a musicologist, claims that these are real masterpieces. They have passed the test of time; after several hundred years they are still in use. In addition, they adapt very easily to various styles of music.
When we play them on contemporary instruments and in contemporary arrangements, it is hard to believe that they come from the 16th century.


1 Dec 2017

Die Nuwe Psalmberyming: An Afrikaans-Language Psalter

Not long ago my good friend Lucas Grassi Freire, who translated my first book into Portuguese, sent me a copy of the Nuwe Psalmberyming, a new versification of the 150 Psalms in Afrikaans published in 2001. Much as the Dutch Interkerkelijke Stichting voor de Psalmberijming had had multi-denominational support in revising the texts for the Psalms in 1968, so this project in South Africa was supported by four Reformed church bodies, including the large Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk (about 1 million members), the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika (130,000 members), the Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk (35,000 members) and the Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika (100,000 members), the last of which is associated with what used to be called Potchefstroom University west of Johannesburg and which once had a close relationship with the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the former Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland.

Unlike the revised Dutch Psalter of half a century ago, the Nuwe Psalmberyming makes use of other tunes besides those in the 16th-century Genevan Psalter. By my count only 73, or just under half, of the Psalms are sung to Genevan melodies. Three (Psalms 18, 91 and 145) are set to tunes from Strasbourg, Lyon and Lausanne, and are structurally and musically very similar to the Genevan tunes. The remainder of the Psalms are set to other melodies. The vast majority of the texts are the work of the well-known South African writer and poet, T. T. (Theunis Theodorus) Cloete (1924–2015), who, during his life, seems to have become the new Totius, who was the first to set the psalms to verse in Afrikaans some eight decades ago. The texts appear to follow the rhyming schemes used in Geneva, not all of which necessarily work well in other languages. Some of the Psalm texts have two tunes, while some of the Genevan tunes in this collection do not necessarily match the numbered Psalm with which it is paired in the original 1562 psalter.

The visual layout of the Genevan Psalms follows the tradition of the old Dutch psalters whereby the treble clef appears only in the first line but is absent in successive lines. In fact, this is an easy way to tell which of the Psalms uses a Genevan tune and which does not, as seen at left. Moreover, the non-Genevan tunes are divided into conventional measures while the Genevan tunes are not, perhaps reflecting the mediaeval chant notation still familiar in the 16th century.

This collection is powerful evidence that the tradition of singing Genevan psalmody continues to live on at the southern tip of the African continent, though the fact that Afrikaans is not a major world language may limit the spread of of this practice elsewhere in Africa.

14 Nov 2017

Psałterz Dawidów: Psalm 91

Here is a lovely performance of Psalm 91 from the Psałterz Dawidów of Jan Kochanowski and Mikołaj Gomółka:

3 Nov 2017

Psalm 4, Psałterz Poznański

Here is a lovely performance of Genevan Psalm 4 in Polish. This is part of the ongoing Psałterz Poznański project.

24 Oct 2017

Le Psaume des batailles

As we approach the quincentenary of the Reformation, it is good to recall that our Reformed Christian forebears in France, who were subject to persecution throughout the 16th century, adopted for themselves a battle anthem from the biblical Psalter, namely, the 68th Psalm. Here it is sung by unaccompanied unison voices, as it would have been sung at that time:

Psaumes 100 et 138

Two performances of two Psalms by the Ensemble Sweelinck de Genève:


23 Oct 2017

More from the Psałterz Dawidów

A lovely performance of Psalms 127, 22, 91 and 30 from the Psałterz Dawidów, by the Ensemble MORGAINE at the Trigonale 2017 / Festival der alten Musik, 2 September 2017, St Georgen am Längsee, Austria.

20 Oct 2017

Psalm 11, Jan Kochanowski

The Psałterz Dawidów is a Polish metrical psalter translated and versified by Jan Kochanowski and published in 1579. Here are two renditions of Psalm 11 from that collection, the first set to the associated music of Mikołaj Gomółka, and the second set to an apparently more recent composition.



The lyrics can be found here.

17 Sep 2017

Everhard on liturgical psalters

Here is a nice survey of three liturgical psalters by Presbyterian pastor Matthew Everhard:


Here are the links to the three psalters he describes:

14 Sep 2017

Kodály Zoltán: Psalm 50

Over the centuries the Hungarians have done wonderful things with the Genevan Psalms. Here is Zoltán Kodály's compelling arrangement of Psalm 50:

11 Sep 2017

Psalm 150: The Niagara Psalter

I don't know whether Psalm 150 is my absolute favourite psalm, but it certainly ranks near the top. Here is my rendition of the One-Hundred-Fiftieth Psalm from my ongoing Niagara Psalter project:


Here is the text:

                                            Psalm 150

                    Sing your praises to the LORD! Alleluia!
                    Praise God in his temple's court! Alleluia!
                    Praise him in his skies above!
                    Alleluia! Praise him for his deeds of love! Alleluia!

                    Praise his all-surpassing grace! Alleluia!
                    Let the trumpet sound his praise! Alleluia!
                    Praise him with the harp and lute! Alleluia!
                    Praise with dance and praise with flute! Alleluia!

                    Praise with tambourine and string! Alleluia!
                    Praise with cymbals' brassy ring! Alleluia!
                    Clashing cymbals sound his praise! Alleluia!
                    All that breathe, your voices raise: Alleluia!

                              Copyright © 2013 by David T Koyzis

10 Sep 2017

Psalm 47: two versions

Here are two choral performances of Psalm 47, as sung to the English text used by the Canadian Reformed Churches. The second arrangement sounds like Claude Goudimel's arrangement, with the melody in the tenor line, as is typical of early modern harmonizations.



9 Sep 2017

The very first psalm

Here is my recent performance of Psalm 1 from my ongoing Niagara Psalter project. This one is dedicated to my good friend, Russell David Kosits.


                                                                   Psalm 1

                                     How blest is the one who refuses to heed
                                     the wicked's advice and shuns every dark deed,
                                     who never will walk where the sinful have trod,
                                     nor sit in the presence of scoffers at God,

                                     who finds great delight in the law of the LORD,
                                     by day and by night meditates on his word.
                                     Like trees that are planted where water streams wend
                                     and put forth their fruitfulness at season's end,

                                     whose leaf does not wither or fade in the sun–
                                     prosperity ever shall bless such a one.
                                     Not so will it be with the wicked who stray,
                                     for they are like chaff that the wind blows away.

                                     When judgement comes, none of the wicked shall stand,
                                     nor sinners assail the upright of the land;
                                     while GOD knows the way that the righteous have sought,
                                     the ways of the wicked will soon come to naught.

                                           Text © 2013 David T. Koyzis 
                                           Tune: RUSSELL, © David T. Koyzis

8 Sep 2017

Psalm 121

I've always thought that this melody carries the feel of the text of Psalm 121 exceptionally well. I would be hard pressed to come up with something better.

7 Sep 2017

Le premier psaume: The first Psalm

The Ensemble Sweelinck de Genève sings Psalm 1 in a live performance before an audience, complete with the occasional cough:

21 May 2017

Les frères de Taizé chantent les psaumes génévois

The singing isn't polished, but it is earnest and heartfelt. Here are the brothers of Taizé singing Psalm 92 according to the proper Genevan melody:


And here is a mixed congregation at Taizé singing Psalm 100 according to the proper Genevan tune for Psalm 134

5 May 2017

Announcement: Emeritus status

As many of you know, not quite two months ago, I was laid off from my thirty-year position at Redeemer University College due to financial constraints and programme restructuring. At the time I was told that I would not be eligible for emeritus status.

This week I was informed that the Senate and Board of Governors have approved emeritus status for me after all.

Nevertheless, I am still seeking opportunities for service in other contexts after the next academic year. I am grateful for the large numbers of people who have expressed support for me in recent weeks, and I would appreciate your continued prayers.

Thanks so much.

David Koyzis

25 Apr 2017

O Brasil cantam os salmos: Salmo 65

I found last year's trip to Brazil a most encouraging experience, as it showed the great power of the gospel in the world's fifth largest country. Here is a Presbyterian congregation in Aracaju singing Psalm 65, as set to the proper Genevan melody.

Achei a viagem no ano passado para o Brasil uma experiência muito encorajadora porque mostrou o grande poder do evangelho no quinto maior país do mundo. Aqui está uma congregação presbiteriana em Aracaju cantando Salmo 65, de acordo com a melodia de Genebra:

3 Apr 2017

New web home sought

As my employment will soon be ending at Redeemer University College, I am currently seeking a new online home for my Genevan Psalter website. If you know of someone who would be willing to host it, please let me know. Thank you.

Psaume 52: Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

20 Mar 2017

Announcement: termination of employment

Friends:

This is to let you know that, after teaching political science at Redeemer University College for thirty years, I have been let go due to programme restructuring and budgetary constraints. Some of you may recall that I was nearly let go two years ago but was reprieved by the institution's senate. This time, however, my termination was approved by the senate and the board of governors. Accordingly I will not be teaching during the 2017-2018 academic year.

As I am approaching the normal retirement age, I may take that option at the end of that year, but, if so, under the conditions of my termination I will do so without receiving emeritus status from Redeemer. Instead I will use the next year for my own research and writing, as well as to seek other employment opportunities. If you know of any such opportunities, I would be grateful if you would let me know.

In the meantime, if you have young people who are considering university, please do consider Redeemer, where they will continue to receive a high-quality education.

I would appreciate your prayers for my family and me, as well as for my soon-to-be former employer.

Thank you.

David Koyzis

22 Feb 2017

Psaume 100 en français

By the time the famous Scottish Psalter was published in 1650, the Genevan tune for Psalm 134 had been renumbered as OLD ONE-HUNDREDTH. Then, of course, the tune was matched with Bishop Thomas Ken's text, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," often referred to as The Doxology and sung after the collection of the offering in Reformed church services.

But the real "Old One-Hundredth" from the Genevan Psalter is a hauntingly lovely tune deserving wider recognition. Hear it beautifully sung below in the French language.


13 Feb 2017

Psalms 81 and 114 in Hungarian

A very nice rendition of Psalm 81, notwithstanding the coughing:


And a performance of Psalm 114, according to the well-known arrangement by Zoltán Kodály, in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation: