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: