31 Jan 2024

Psalm 85: Anatomy of the Soul

Our friend Brian Wright is at it again. He has just posted his own rendition of Psalm 85. The text is from The Book of Psalms for Worship from which members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America have sung since 2009.

This is Wright's description at his YouTube channel:

This is Psalm 85:8-13 set to “Shepherds,” a tune I wrote last year. In the verses before this, the authors, the Sons of Korah, wrestle with how long God’s people have been suffering. They ask God, “Will you be angry with us forever?…Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” And then the authors write the words I’ve sung here—confidence that God will restore, that grace and truth and righteousness and peace are the future of everyone who trusts in Him. A thousand years later, Jesus came speaking that peace, suffering in the place of sinners like me so that we might have peace with God. If you are asking God, “How long?” right now, believe these words and put your trust in the One who makes them true.

More such Psalms can be found at Anatomy of the Soul, a link to which I have put in the right sidebar of this blog.

30 Jan 2024

A Presbyterian Prayer Book?

I have recently discovered an historical oddity that merits mention due to the role it played—or might have played—in the liturgical controversies in 17th-century England and Scotland. While the 1662 Book of Common Prayer remains the standard for the Church of England, few people are aware of an edition supposedly drawn up the previous year: The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, as amended by the Westminster Divines in the Royal Commission of 1661. Presbyterians are familiar with the Westminster Assembly, consisting of clergy and parliamentarians meeting between 1643 and 1653 to push the Church of England in a more explicitly Reformed direction. The Assembly produced a new form of church government that would replace bishops with pastors, teachers/doctors, elders, and deacons. It produced the Westminster Confession of Faith, a Larger and Shorter Catechism, and a Directory of Public Worship, which consisted more of rubrics than of a set liturgy.

29 Jan 2024

Oremus Metrical Psalter

Our friend Steve Benner informs us that the online Oremus Metrical Psalter is now complete. Each Psalm offers a musical score, followed by an organ recording of the music, then the lyrics, and finally the sources. The tunes are mostly familiar ones easily sung by most congregations in the English-speaking world. The Psalms are organized according to the 30-day schedule found in the Book of Common Prayer.

I have put a link to the Oremus Psalter in the right sidebar of this blog.

25 Jan 2024

O Legado Litúrgico de Cranmer

The Brazilian web publication Lecionário has republished my recent post on Cranmer's liturgical legacy in Portuguese: O Legado Litúrgico de Cranmer.

A publicação brasileira Lecionário republicou minha postagem recente sobre o legado litúrgico de Cranmer em português: O Legado Litúrgico de Cranmer. Um trecho:

Havia algum propósito por trás do trabalho de Cranmer que escapou aos reformadores litúrgicos do século passado? Isto nos leva ao livro de Hicks, uma análise fascinante da gramática teológica que condicionou o trabalho do Arcebispo.

Psalm 150: Kodály

Cantemus Choral Institute recently posted this compelling performance of Zoltán Kodály's arrangement of Genevan Psalm 150 by the Pro Musica Girls' Choir conducted by Dénes Szabó:

23 Jan 2024

Psalm 24: Sweelinck

So many of us love to hear Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's arrangements of the Genevan Psalms. Here is the Semper Reformanda Vocal Ensemble of Gáspár Károli University of the Hungarian Reformed Church performing his arrangement of Psalm 24:

19 Jan 2024

Psaume 25: A toy, mon Dieu, mon cœur monte

Here is the Ensemble Lamaraviglia of Winterthur, Switzerland, singing Claude Goudimel's arrangement of Psalm 25. The tenors sing the melody line.

17 Jan 2024

Cranmer's liturgical legacy

Last month I acquired two fascinating books which I strongly recommend to Christians from a variety of traditions interested in the church's liturgy: Alan Jacobs, The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography, and Zac Hicks, Worship by Faith Alone: Thomas Cranmer, The Book of Common Prayer, and the Reformation of Liturgy. Although both writers take on the same subject, they approach it in quite different ways. Both volumes made for pleasurable reading over the Christmas holidays, and they prompted me to reflect further on the relationship between how we worship and how we live our lives before the face of God.

Jacobs' book recounts the history of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), beginning in Archbishop Thomas Cranmer's library at the archiepiscopal palace at Croydon, south of London. The holder of the see of Canterbury was and remains the premier hierarch of the English church, and Cranmer ascended to that position at a time of great political and religious instability. Initially serving the mercurial King Henry VIII and then his devout son Edward VI, who died before reaching adulthood, Cranmer would be martyred for his evangelical faith under Henry's eldest daughter, Queen Mary I, who violently sought to drag England back to its previous Roman allegiance. During the years he led the church, Cranmer became persuaded of the truth of the doctrines of grace and embraced the Reformation. Church reform became possible after the King declared himself head of the church and severed it from Rome in 1534.

12 Jan 2024

Liturgical standards and living faith: the case of the Evangelical and Reformed Church

My latest post in Kuyperian Commentary can be found here: Liturgical standards and living faith: the case of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. An excerpt:

So what was this Evangelical and Reformed Church? It was created by the merger of two predecessor bodies, the (German) Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) and the (German) Evangelical Synod of North America. The German Reformed were the descendants of Reformed Christians who had immigrated from German-speaking Europe, especially Switzerland and the Palatinate, the latter of which was once ruled by Elector Frederick III “the Pious” (1515-1576), who commissioned the Heidelberg Catechism in 1563. The German Reformed began in 1725 and were initially under the care of Classis Amsterdam of the Dutch Reformed Church until 1793. During the late 19th century, efforts to unite with the (Dutch) Reformed Church in America were unsuccessful.

Read the entire article here.

1 Jan 2024

The Grail/Gelineau Psalter: Psalm 23

Thirty-five years ago I published an article in Reformed Worship titled, Straight from Scripture, in which I treated briefly Gelineau psalmody, a method of singing the Psalms using The Grail translation. Roman Catholics have sung the Psalms in this way for nearly seven decades, beginning in France with the publication of La Bible de Jérusalem. Here is an excerpt from my article:

One of the more interesting ways of singing the psalms was developed by Joseph Gelineau of France. Of all the methods of singing the psalms, Gelineau's chant best preserves the Hebrew poetic style, retaining both the parallelism and the metrical structure of the original. Ancient Hebrew meter is somewhat like early English meter (e.g., nursery rhymes) in that it focuses on the number of stresses within a line rather than on the number of syllables. Gelineau psalmody is often sung to the Grail translation, which was produced specifically for this purpose. The following passage (again from Psalm 54) is "pointed" to indicate the regular rhythmic stresses in each line: