28 Feb 2022

A Psalm for Putin

In light of the horrific events of recent days, I am revisiting something I wrote last year: God as Judge: Praying the Imprecatory Psalms. If we can still pray these today, then I have the perfect prayer for Russian President Vladimir Putin taken from Psalm 109:8:

May his days be few; may another take his office!

Let all the people say: Amen! (Psalm 106:48)

And while we're at it, let's remember to pray for the people of Ukraine who are valiantly fighting for their freedom and for ordinary Russians who mostly oppose this war.

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29:11)

26 Feb 2022

Psalm 8 "bachified"

Here is Johann Sebastian Bach's arrangement of Genevan Psalm 8. Note that it is a typical Bach arrangement in that it flattens the rhythm of the original, relies heavily on a raised seventh note, and ends on a picardy third. As such, it alters the dorian modal flavour of the melody.

24 Feb 2022

The Psalms in wartime

This evening after dinner we read Psalm 27, which I thought appropriate in light of the events of the past hours. Here is something I wrote for the Center for Public Justice eight years ago, which I thought relevant to the current crisis: One Hundred Years Later: The Psalms and the First World War. An excerpt:

Nearly four decades ago, I visited Prague, the capital of what was still communist-ruled Czechoslovakia and, before the First World War, part of Austria-Hungary. During my time there, I purchased in an antiquarian bookshop a Czech-language New Testament and Psalms published in 1845 for “Evangelical Christians of the Augsburg and Helvetic Confessions,” that is, for Lutheran and Reformed Christians. The print was in the old German black letter font, and even some of the spelling was obsolete.

17 Feb 2022

Meeter Center lecture coming up

In May I will be lecturing on the Genevan Psalter at Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA, as guest of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies. This year marks the 460th anniversary of the Genevan Psalter's completion. More information forthcoming.

8 Feb 2022

Psalm 82: the consensus of the metrical psalters?

As a follow-up to my previous posts on the identity of the "gods" in Psalm 82, I have consulted a few more metrical psalters. Here are stanzas 1, 7, and 8 of the version in the Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter of 1562:

Among the princes, men of might,
the Lord himself doth stand,
To plead the cause of truth and right
with judges of the land.

But notwithstanding ye shall die
as men, and so decay;
O tyrants, you destroy will I,
and pluck you quite away.

Up, Lord, and let thy strength be known,
and judge the world with might:
For why? all nations are thy own,
to take them as thy right.

3 Feb 2022

Where Alter's Psalter falters

Christian Courier has just posted my January column, titled, Where Alter's Psalter falters, with the following subtitle: "What's really going on in Psalm 82?" Here is an excerpt:

Although I generally appreciate Alter’s work, I question one element of his interpretive framework. This is relevant especially to Psalm 82 but to others as well. Throughout the Psalms he sees vestiges of Canaanite polytheistic religion, with many of the traditional attributes ascribed to Baal being reassigned to YHWH, including the often-used metaphors of riding on the clouds and defeating the waters of chaos.

Of course, there is little doubt that the early Hebrews were influenced by the surrounding peoples’ religions, as the Bible itself testifies. But I think it’s possible to exaggerate these mythological remnants in such a way as to miss something more concrete and obvious, which Alter is otherwise at pains to emphasize.

Read the entire article here. And read my full review of the Alter Psalter here.

2 Feb 2022

Article in The Outlook

Not long ago I received a copy of the January/February issue of The Outlook carrying an article of mine, "The Genevan Psalter: Introduction." It is not posted online, so you will need to obtain a paper copy of the periodical to read it. A follow-up article on my own Genevan Psalter project will appear in a future issue.