29 Dec 2023

Psalms as the Engine of the Church with Susannah Black Roberts

Susannah Black Roberts: "Singing the Psalms, chanting the Psalms moves the plot of God's kingdom forward." What an intriguing thought! Here is the larger context: Psalms as the Engine of the Church with Susannah Black Roberts.

19 Dec 2023

A new Dutch psalter: De Nieuwe Psalmberijming

One of the features of language is that it changes over time, usually slowly and incrementally, but sometimes surprisingly quickly, as in the shift from middle to modern English. It is good to keep this in mind as we look more closely at the new Dutch versification of the biblical Psalms produced in 2021. Called De Nieuwe Psalmberijming, it follows at least four previous versifications of the Psalms, as set to the historic Genevan tunes. But we should also be aware that liturgical language tends to lag behind contemporary usage, as I noted in this article more than a decade ago: Liturgy and archaic language. Thus many updates of liturgical material leave some archaisms untouched, primarily because parishioners are used to them and prefer to worship in familiar albeit older words. This explains the continued affection in some circles for the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the King James Version of the Bible, the 1650 Scottish Psalter, and even the Revised Standard Version's retention of the old second-person-singular pronouns in addresses to God, a usage now in decline amongst English-speaking Christians.

11 Dec 2023

Psalm 51 in Aramaic

This is a plaintive rendition of Psalm 51 (50 by Septuagint numbering) sung in Aramaic by the Trio Mandili. Who could fail to be moved by this?

8 Dec 2023

Psalm 121: De Nieuwe Psalmberijming

Singing from the new Dutch versification of the Psalms: Psalm 121:

4 Dec 2023

Advent I: Psalm 25 and Wachet Auf

Ancient tradition associates Psalm 25 with the First Sunday in Advent. Here is our new friend, the Rev. Detlef Korsen, singing the Genevan version of this Psalm while accompanying himself on guitar:

And while we are on the subject of Advent, here is Korsen singing Philip Nicolai's famous Advent hymn, Wachet Auf, or Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying, in its original rhythmic form:

30 Nov 2023

New England Psalm Book, 1758

I recently heard from the Rev. Jeremy Bullen, of Wallace, Idaho, who alerted me to a website that he has posted devoted to the 1758 revision of the New England Psalm Book. The original Bay Psalm Book was published in 1640 and is generally regarded as the first English-language book printed in the Americas. This newer edition was the creation of the Rev. Thomas Prince (1687-1758), who pastored the Old South Church in Boston and was a supporter of the First Great Awakening of the 18th century. An archived version of this psalter can be found here as well.

Bullen has included a brief comparison of the two versions from Psalm 1:3, a list of metres, a list of possible tunes to match the metres, and metrical canticles from other parts of the Bible. In short, this is a psalter from which people can still sing, using the resources that he has provided. Thanks are due to Bullen for the work he has put into this website.

29 Nov 2023

Psalm 51: Sweelinck

Here is the Gesualdo Consort singing Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's arrangement of Genevan Psalm 51:

21 Nov 2023

Everypsalm Psalter: a review

Here is a brief review of Jesse and Leah Roberts' Everypsalm Psalter, based on the complete digital version of the Psalter found here. I am assuming that the bound volume is identical to the pdf copy available for download. There are 250 pages in total covering all 150 Psalms, along with three indices: Psalms by Category, Psalms by Author, and Psalms by Theme/feel. Among the authors listed are included David, Asaph, Korah, Solomon, Moses, Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman the Ezrahite. The third index includes Psalms for Courage, Justice, Suffering, Gathered Worship, Rest, Dancing, and the Messiah.

16 Nov 2023

Everypsalm Psalter

Just over a year ago, I called readers' attention to a pandemic-era project of singing through all 150 Psalms with original music under the general title of Poor Bishop Hooper's Everypsalm project. This was the work of Jesse and Leah Roberts, whose YouTube channel can be found here.

Happily, in response to listeners' demands, they have now produced a bound copy of the Everypsalm Psalter, which is now available for purchase. I hope to review this collection soon. Stay tuned.

15 Nov 2023

Psalm 81 to 100's tune

A member of the Lovers of Metrical Psalmody Facebook group alerted us to this metrical psalm performed by the Robert Shaw Festival Singers: To God Our Strength. The text is a metrical version of Psalm 81 with music arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw, but, remarkably, it's sung (altogether too quickly) to the Genevan melody for Psalm 100. The recording was released in 1993.

Addendum: I have corrected one of the sentences above. Parker and Shaw arranged the music, but the text is from Henry Ainsworth's Psalter, from which the 17th-century community known to Americans as the Pilgrims sang. Here is the text of stanzas 1, 2, and 7:

To God our strength, shout joyfully;
To Jacob’s God shout triumphing.
Take up a psalm, and timbrel bring,
The pleasant harp with psaltery.
Blow up the trumpet at new‐moon:
In set time at day of our feast.
For it to Isr'el is an heast:
To Jacob’s God due to be doon.
Jehovah God of thee I am,
Which thee ascending up did guide
From land of Egypt. Open wide
Thy mouth, and I will fill the same.

A copy of the Ainsworth Psalter can be purchased here.

13 Nov 2023

Psalm 103: Korsen

One more Genevan Psalm auf Deutsch by the Rev. Detlef Korsen:

11 Nov 2023

Psalm 99: Bahasa Indonesia

Here is a group of Indonesian Christians singing Genevan Psalm 99 in their own language. The musical notation is fairly easy to read because it's based on numbers.

6 Nov 2023

Psalm 113 to its original tune?

Suzanne Haïk-Vantoura's thesis is controversial and definitely open to question, but it is intriguing to think that her theory may have enabled us to recover the original tunes to which the biblical Psalms were set. Here is a particularly lovely example:

Here is an account of Haïk-Vantoura's apparent discovery broadcast over NPR in 1986:

More of Michael Levi's reconstructions of the Psalms according to Haïk-Vantoura's reading can be found here.

3 Nov 2023

Psalm 100: Korsen

Here is one more psalm performed very nicely by the Rev. Detlef Korsen:

1 Nov 2023

Genfer Psalter: the Psalms in German

Ever since Ambrosius Lobwasser (1515-1585) first rendered the Genevan Psalms in German, speakers of that language have sung from this historic collection, although perhaps not in great numbers. In recent months, the Rev. Detlef Korsen has been posting videos of himself singing from the Genevan Psalter. Korsen is a pastor in the Evangelish-lutherische Landeskirche Hannovers in the greater Bremen area of northwest Germany. The texts are from several sources. Some of the Psalms he sings a cappella, and others he accompanies with guitar. The full collection of his videos can be found here. Here he is singing Psalm 3:

Take some time to visit his YouTube channel and explore his posted videos of the Psalms.

31 Oct 2023

Reformation celebration: two psalm paraphrases

Although the tradition of metrical psalmody is more associated with the Reformed than with the Lutheran tradition, Martin Luther himself penned a very few psalm paraphrases. The most familiar to us is undoubtedly A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, a free paraphrase of Psalm 46. Here it is in its original rhythmic form:

The second of Luther's psalm paraphrases is From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee, paraphrasing Psalm 130:

30 Oct 2023

Psałterz Poznański: Psalms 22 and 68

I've been listening quite a bit to the new CD of music from the Psałterz Poznański. Here are two psalms posted on the Cithara Sanctorum YouTube channel, Psalms 22 and 68:


24 Oct 2023

Psałterz Poznański: book and CD

Last month I wrote of meeting and spending time with Andrzej Polaszek, a Reformed pastor from Poznań, Poland, during his visit to North America. Last week I received in the mail from Polaszek a booklet containing music and fresh Polish-language texts for one-hundred Genevan Psalms, published in 2017, and a just-published CD containing recordings of 12 Genevan Psalms in Polish. The performing musicians include Andrzej and his wife Agata and three more members of the Polaszek family, along with several others. The instrumentalists play a selection of unusual instruments, some of which have mediaeval and renaissance origins. Among those listed are the romantic lute, Irish bouzouki, Renaissance mandora, hurdy-gurdy, zither, psaltery, alto and tenor rebec, and several different kinds of flutes and flute-related instruments.

18 Oct 2023

How to read the Psalms for all they're worth

Here is a very fine article at Anglican Compass on How to read the Psalms for all they're worth, by W. David O. Taylor, a theologian at Fuller Seminary and author of Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life. He offers his advice in seven points. An excerpt:

2. Read the Psalms consistently, rather than occasionally and sporadically.
This was Eugene Peterson’s advice to me as a seminary student at Regent College in 1995: to read a psalm a day as a life’s habit. It’s also advice that Christians throughout the centuries have taken to heart. Consider then how you might read a psalm a day yourself. Begin with Psalm 1 and march your way to the end, to Psalm 150, and then start over.

Don’t become too anxious if you miss a day or two, however, or if you get bogged down with the longer psalms. The point isn’t to read the psalms perfectly. There’s no scorecard, thank God. The point is simply to read the psalms over and over again, so that they’ll have a chance to saturate our hearts and minds with the good words of God.
Of course, once you've started to read a psalm a day, you might then move on to take up the 30-day schedule in the Book of Common Prayer's Psalter.

16 Oct 2023

Psalm 24, St. George's, Edinburgh

The Free Church of Scotland faithfully continues its longstanding practice of singing the biblical Psalter. Here is the Scottish Psalter's version of Psalm 24, sung to ST. GEORGE'S, EDINBURGH. Our former congregation often sang this as an entrance hymn during the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

13 Oct 2023

Psalm 121 from the 1650

Another congregational psalm from the Free Church of Scotland: Psalm 121 to the familiar tune FRENCH:

10 Oct 2023

Sweelinck Ensemble: Psalm 42

Few composers can match Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's arrangements of the Genevan Psalms in beauty and creativity. Here is Het Sweelinck Ensemble performing Psalm 42 at the Grote Kerk in Leerdam, Netherlands:

3 Oct 2023

Psalm 103: Falkirk Free Kirk

Here once more is the congregation of the Falkirk Free Church in Scotland singing the first part of Psalm 103 to the tune of Before the Throne of God Above:

29 Sept 2023

Psalm 122 from the 1650

Here is one more psalm sung by the congregation of the Falkirk Free Church, Psalm 122:

Psalm 2: Sweelinck

Here are the King's Singers performing Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's arrangement of Psalm 2:

28 Sept 2023

Foundations Psalter

SermonAudio has recently published an extensive version of the 1650 Scottish Psalter complete with the texts of all 150 Psalms and multiple possible tunes for each psalm. As I've observed many times before, the vast majority of texts in the 1650 are in common or ballad metre (8 6 8 6) or its double counterpart. Thus one can easily mix and match the texts and tunes. This is the origin of the well-known split-leaf psalters used in Scotland and elsewhere.

This new edition is called the Foundations Psalter whose website can be found here. Once you are in the site, you will see four introductory paragraphs. Below this you will see two tabs, one for the "Psalter" and one for the "Psalter Tunes." If you choose the first tab, you will see each of the Psalms listed by number. Click on an individual Psalm and you will find a playable organ rendition of the tune followed by two tabs, labelled Lyrics and Bible. If you stay on the Lyrics tab, you will see the text from the Scottish Psalter. If you click on Bible, you will see the King James Version's prose translation of the same psalm.

27 Sept 2023

Psalm 121 from the 1650

Here is a heartfelt sung version of Psalm 121 according to the Scottish Psalter of 1650 by the Falkirk Free Church congregation in Scotland:

25 Sept 2023

Polaszek and the Psałterz Poznański

For several years now I have been a fan of the work of Andrzej and Agata Polaszek in rendering the biblical Psalms in singable texts in their native Polish language. Last week I was finally privileged to meet Andrzej, who is visiting North America this month and decided to pay me a visit here in Hamilton. We met at a local Tim Hortons and spent some time in conversation, which ranged from topics related to the liturgical use of the Psalms to the complexities of Polish history. Polaszek is a minister in a congregation in Poznań affiliated with the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches, a small denomination of recent vintage centred primarily in the United States. Last year Polaszek completed a PhD at the Christian Theological Academy in Warsaw on Maciej Rybiński's Polish version of the Genevan Psalter.

18 Sept 2023

West gallery quires and a Thomas Hardy novel

These days we are wont to think of church organs as traditional and worship bands as new, but in England during the 19th century it was just the opposite. Throughout the 18th century and well into the 19th, rural parish churches had their own west gallery quires, groups of amateur musicians who led the singing. There was nothing refined or high brow about this music. It was often quite rough. Too rough for the partisans of the Oxford Movement who preferred gregorian chant and a higher aesthetic.

The transition from west gallery quires to the organ was captured by the English author Thomas Hardy in his second published novel, Under the Greenwood Tree: A Rural Painting of the Dutch School (1872). Nancy and I recently saw a cinematic version of this, and last week I read the novel itself. Hardy's preface focusses on this transition, leading the reader to think it will be the major theme of the book:

25 Jul 2023

Psalm 1: Gilligan

This metrical psalm is obviously not a strict versification of the prose text, but an interpretation and a contextualization to boot, tailored to the seafarers and the generation that grew up watching television in the 1960s. If anything, it proves that even the versifiers of psalmody can have a sense of humour.

30 Jun 2023

Isaiah, Mighty Seer, in Days of Old

Singing the Psalms is an integral part of Christian worship. But we do well to sing other parts of the Bible in our liturgies too. Indeed, there is an ancient tradition of doing so, and some have claimed that the entire Hebrew text of the Old Testament contains musical notations for chanting. In 1526, nine years after he nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Martin Luther published his Deutsche Messe, or German Mass, which was a reworking of the Latin rite in the German language. Rather than translating directly from Latin, Luther saw fit to elaborate on the songs in the ordinary of the mass, including the Sanctus. In its traditional form, the Sanctus runs as follows:

16 Jun 2023

Psalm 148 and the Benedicite omnia opera

The Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint (LXX), varies from the Hebrew in several respects, including entire books absent from the latter. These are known as Deuterocanonical by Roman Catholics and Apocrypha by Protestants. Included are additions to two books within the undisputed canon, namely, Esther and Daniel. One of the additions to Daniel comes in the third chapter, which recounts the episode in which the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar consigns three Hebrew young men, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, to the fiery furnace for not bowing down to the golden image that the king had set up. In the Hebrew version, the three young men simply emerge from the ordeal unscathed, much to the king's astonishment, but with little fanfare. In the Greek version, the author ascribes an entire canticle to the three youths which they sing during the ordeal. It is generally known by its first words in Latin, Benedicite omnia opera, about which I wrote 16 years ago, and in English as the Song of the Three Youths or the Song of the Three Holy Children.

31 May 2023

The Lord is my Shepherd: Psalm 23

Then there is Howard Goodall's lovely musical rendition of the ever popular 23rd Psalm, which provided the theme music for the British television comedy series, The Vicar of Dibley. The text and music provide a stark contrast to the rather irreverent tone of the series.

30 May 2023

Codex Early Music Ensemble: Psalm 68

Here once again is the Codex Early Music Ensemble giving Psalm 68 another shot:

29 May 2023

Codex Early Music Ensemble: Psalm 62 and 47

I'm coming to like the Codex Early Music Ensemble's performances of the Hungarian Psalms. Here are 62 and 47:

26 May 2023

Psalms 81 and 68: genfi zsoltár

The Hungarians are always coming up with surprisingly different ways to sing the Psalms. Here is the Codex Early Music Ensemble singing Psalms 81 and 68 at a rather fast pace, altering the rhythm of the original melodies.

25 May 2023

Psalms 90 and 91: genfi zsoltár

This is an unusually haunting performance of Genevan Psalms 90 and 91 in Hungarian. János Pálúr is the organist, and Sára Tímár is the soloist. The recording was made on 16 June 2022 in the Fasori Reformed Church in Budapest.

24 May 2023

Psaume 97 en français

Here is a recently posted recording of Psalm 97 sung in French, which comes from an old monophonic vinyl record released in 1957.

19 May 2023

Psalm 72 (71): another coronation psalm

Our new King is descended through his late father from the modern kings of Greece of the Danish Glücksburg line. Thus it is most appropriate that Orthodox priests chanted Psalm 72 (71 by the Septuagint numbering) at his recent coronation.

Here are the opening verses in Greek:

Ὁ Θεὸς, τὸ κρίμα σου τῷ βασιλεῖ δὸς
καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην σου τῷ υἱῷ τοῦ βασιλέως
κρίνειν τὸν λαόν σου ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ
καὶ τοὺς πτωχούς σου ἐν κρίσει.

And in English:

Give the king thy justice, O God,
and thy righteousness to the royal son!
May he judge thy people with righteousness,
and thy poor with justice!
A most appropriate psalm for the inauguration of a new ruler! God save the King!

Groen sang these psalms

In February I acquired a copy of the recently republished 1729 version of the Genevan Psalter. This version was adopted by the francophone churches of the Netherlands and differs from the original French text of 1562. A few days ago a friend reminded me that Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer (1801-1876), an early leader in the Dutch anti-revolutionary movement and a predecessor of Abraham Kuyper, attended the Walloon church in The Hague, under the pastorate of Jean Charles Isaac Secrétan (1798-1875). Thus it is quite likely that this is the version of the Psalter from which he sang while worshipping with that congregation.

The Walloon Churches in the Netherlands have their origins in the religious conflicts of the 16th and 17th centuries, when French-speaking refugees from the southern Netherlands (now Belgium) and France fled persecution in their homelands and settled in the largely protestant Dutch Republic in the north. There are far fewer Walloon congregations than in the past, and the remaining few form a special classis within the reunited Protestantse Kerk in Nederland.

16 May 2023

Make a Joyful Noise: coronation anthem

For the recent coronation of King Charles III, Andrew Lloyd Webber was commissioned to compose an anthem. Here it is below: a sung version of Psalm 98 from the venerable King James version of the Bible:

11 May 2023

An 18th-century Dutch psalter

I recently spent time with a friend who brought to our meeting an old Dutch-language edition of the Genevan Psalter published in 1776. The texts are the 1773 versifications commissioned by the Estates General of the United Netherlands, so they were still quite new when this volume was produced. Here are photographs of some of the pages. Note that the outer margins of the versified texts contain the prose text of the relevant psalm according to the Statenvertaling of 1637, a translation of the Bible approved by the Estates General which is analogous to our King James Version in English. Only the melody is included and is repeated for each stanza.

8 May 2023

Singing the Reformation 2016

I've recently come across the website for the Church Service Society, an organization founded in 1865 to renew worship in the Church of Scotland. This is the description of the Society's work from the page titled, History and Purpose

The Society published Euchologion in 1867, the first corporately produced service book available to the Kirk since John Knox’s Book of Common Order, and which continued through eleven editions up to 1924, until the Church itself (the main Presbyterian denominations reunited in 1929) took on the responsibility. Since then there has been increasing provision of worship resources in the Scottish churches. It might seem as if the vision of the founders had been amply fulfilled.

24 Apr 2023

CICW grant: completing the work of decades

I have some great news to share with respect to my ongoing Genevan Psalter project. But first a bit of background.

In 2021 and 2022 I received two back-to-back grants from the Stanford Reid Trust here in Canada to work on my project of setting the Psalms to verse to be sung to the proper Genevan tunes of the 16th century. The first grant enabled me to complete the versification of all 150 Psalms in August of two years ago. The second grant allowed me to pay Michael Owens, a professional musician and piano tuner in Denver, Pennsylvania, to format seventy of my texts to the excellent 20th-century arrangements of Jacques Pierre Bekkers and Jacob Kort. As the second grant was not sufficient to cover the cost of formatting all 150, I applied to the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship (CICW) for a Teacher-Scholar Grant to cover the remainder. Unfortunately, I received word that my project did not fit the parameters of this programme.

However, I am pleased to report that the publications team at CICW has offered to provide the full amount I had requested to complete the formatting for my English-language Genevan Psalter. This will enable Owens to format the remainder of the Psalms, which brings the collection a step closer to publication. I am grateful to God for his grace in giving me the time and resources to work on this project in my retirement. I am grateful to Owens for his enthusiasm for my work and his technical skills. And, of course, I am grateful to both the Reid Trust and the CICW for their financial support for my work.

I will keep readers informed of further developments as they occur. I would appreciate your prayers for the project's completion. Thanks so much!

13 Apr 2023

Kodály's Psalm 150 - 2022

This performance of Zoltán Kodály's arrangement of Psalm 150 took place in July 2022 and was posted last October:

22 Mar 2023

Lewis and Laurence on the imprecatory psalms

At The Gospel Coalition Trevin Wax has written on What C. S. Lewis Got Wrong About the Cursing Psalms. While Lewis's writings carry insights appreciated by generations of Christians, he nevertheless questioned the propriety of using the imprecatory psalms:

Lewis thought these psalms “devilish,” naive, “diabolical,” given to “pettiness” and “vulgarity.” He believed their “vindictive hatred” to be contemptible—full of “festering, gloating, undisguised” passions that can in no way be “condoned or approved.”

 As a corrective to Lewis, Wax recommends Trevor Laurence's new book, Cursing with God: The Imprecatory Psalms and the Ethics of Christian Prayer, published last November by Baylor University Press:

21 Mar 2023

Psalm 150: Sweelinck

Who could possibly tire of listening to Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's choral arrangement of Psalm 150?

20 Mar 2023

Martha and the psalms of lament

Everyone remembers Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead as recounted in John 11. Although this episode is found in the New Testament, the dialogue between Jesus and Martha reflects the structure of the psalms of lament. This is the thesis of the late biblical scholar Gail R. O'Day in a remarkable article to which my wife alerted me last week, Martha: Seeing the Glory of God. (If you set up a free account, you can "borrow" this ebook for one hour.)

13 Mar 2023

Psalms of Grace

As more and more evangelical protestants are discovering the liturgical riches of the Psalms, new collections of sung psalmody are constantly being produced, sometimes by denominations and sometimes by single congregations. Psalms of Grace falls into the latter category, having been created by Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, a neighbourhood of Los Angeles. Grace Community Church is an independent megachurch with more than 8,000 members and an expansive campus including a Spanish-language congregation, a seminary, a bookstore, and a production company. Its longtime pastor, John MacArthur, has had an enduring radio ministry called Grace to You. The congregation has recently produced two liturgical collections, Hymns of Grace and Psalms of Grace

As I've observed before, it is unusual for a single congregation to produce its own hymnal and highly unusual for one to produce a metrical psalter. The resources needed for such projects are generally beyond what a congregation can manage on its own. By contrast, a denomination can pool the resources of multiple congregations to compile hymnals and psalters. The successive Psalter Hymnals of the Christian Reformed Church are probably the best known examples, as is the Trinity Psalter Hymnal, which was put together by two co-operating denominations. Two years ago I reviewed New Psalter: Psalms for the Church, the work of Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Florida. Now it's time to evaluate Psalms of Grace.

21 Feb 2023

The Tennents' Seedbed Psalter

During my visit to Trinity School for Ministry last week, the Very Rev. Dr. Henry L. "Laurie" Thompson III, was kind enough to present me with a bound copy of the Seedbed Psalter, a metrical psalter compiled by Julie and Timothy Tennent. Thompson is retired Dean President of Trinity and associate professor of liturgical studies. Nearly two years ago I reviewed the Seedbed Psalter. It is an online open-source metrical psalter containing multiple helps to enable congregations to sing the Psalms to familiar hymn tunes. Julie Tennent is a keyboard musician and composer who did the bulk of the work on it. Her husband Timothy is president of Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, the largest Wesleyan seminary in North America.

Incidentally, neighbouring Asbury University has been in the news due to a revival amongst the students in the form of a 24-hour worship service that has been going on for nearly two weeks and is set to end in a few days.

20 Feb 2023

Metrical psalmody in Pennsylvania

Last week I was privileged to speak at two educational institutions in the Pittsburgh area, Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge and Geneva College in Beaver Falls. Trinity is an independent Anglican seminary that serves the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), along with overseas Anglican provinces. On wednesday, 15 February, I spoke twice at Trinity. During the morning I spoke on "Ideology and Idolatry," the topic of my first book. In the evening, I turned to my work with the Psalms, speaking on "Geneva in England: Singing the Psalms in Metre." My talk covered some of the same material on which I spoke last May at Calvin University, but this time I focussed more on the Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter of 1562 and the Tate & Brady "New Version" Psalter of 1696. These, of course, were used in public worship in the Church of England until the end of the 18th century. Most contemporary Anglicans are unaware that their forebears ever sang metrical psalmody.

7 Feb 2023

Le Psautier de Genève 1729

In recent months I have made the acquaintance of Philippe Lacombe, a Frenchman who maintains a blog devoted to the Genevan Psalter, along with an associated Twitter account. He recently published a hard-bound edition of the 1729 French version of the Genevan Psalter, a copy of which I have just obtained. It contains a preface by Lacombe, an index of the Psalms, an index of Psalms using the same tunes, and the 150 Psalms themselves. This is from the preface, which I have translated into English:

Put to rhyme by the poet Clément Marot and the reformer Theodore Beza between 1539 and 1562, the 150 Psalms of the Bible were made available to the Reformed churches for liturgical singing in protestant worship. The definitive version of the psalter was published in 1587.

18 Jan 2023

An English version of the Dorz/Moldoveanu Psalter?

Having recently received a copy of the Dorz/Modoveanu Psalter from my friend Eugen Tămaș, who is visiting the United States from his native Romania, I am quite taken with a collection that came into existence through the fires of persecution. Cântările Psalmilor has just come out in a second expanded edition and appears poised to spread the liturgical practice of psalm-singing amongst the evangelical Christians in that country. I myself have come up with three English-language versifications to fit the melodies of Nicolae Moldoveanu, the centenary of whose birth was observed last year. 

Nevertheless, there are obstacles in the way of rendering a metrical psalter from one language into another, as I discovered in my own work with the Genevan Psalter. Let me give you an example. Here is Psalm 23 from Cântările Psalmilor:

17 Jan 2023

A gift of God born of suffering: Cântările Psalmilor

Shortly before Christmas, I received in the mail the new and expanded edition of the Romanian-language metrical psalter, Cântările Psalmilor (Songs of the Psalms). This was a gift from Eugen Tămaș, who has spearheaded this project. During one of our online conversations, he asked me to review the collection, which I am taking up now. But before I do so, I must confess to having little knowledge of the Romanian language, aside from picking out familiar words that are cognates with such other romance languages as French, Spanish, and Portuguese, all of which I have studied at one time or another. Nevertheless, although I may not be the best person to post a detailed review, I can tell you about what is in the volume, and what makes it distinctive.

10 Jan 2023

Psałterz Poznański: Psalm 124

I love the work that the good people behind Psałterz Poznański are doing to render the Psalms in singable form. Their latest offering is Genevan Psalm 124, as sung by Agata Polaszek in a style reminiscent of the Canadian-American popular singer Joni Mitchell. Below the recording you will find links to four pdf documents: the music and guitar chords in the key of C, the Polish text with guitar chords in C, the music and guitar chords in the key of D, and the text with chords in D.

Psałterz Poznański does not post a new psalm performance all that often, but when they do, it's always worth hearing. Niech Bóg rozwija swoje królestwo w Polsce poprzez śpiewanie psalmów! May God advance his kingdom in Poland through singing the Psalms!