28 Mar 2024

Psalm 42: The Ambassadors

The Ambassadors Christian Male Chorus have been singing together since 1969 here in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Here they are performing Genevan Psalm 42 in a recording made in 1985:

27 Mar 2024

Psalm 130: Psałterz Poznański

Our friends Andrzej and Agata Polaszek have posted a new psalm performance during this Holy Week. However, this one is not from the Genevan tradition, but the Lutheran. Martin Luther published his metrical version of Psalm 130, Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir, in 1524. The tune is in the phrygian mode and has since been arranged by Bach and other composers. Here it is sung in Polish: Z GŁĘBOKIEJ NĘDZY. In addition to this Lutheran version, the Polaszeks have also posted the Genevan version here: WZNOSZĘ DO CIEBIE MÓJ GŁOS.

Psalm 138: Het Urker Mannenkoor 'Hallelujah'

Urk is a village of 21,000 in the Dutch province of Flevoland. Prior to the 1940s, Urk was an island with its own peculiar dialect. After that point, it ceased to be an island and became part of a polder, or land reclaimed from the sea. Urk is part of the Dutch bible belt and boasts an unusually large number of churches. Here in one of these we find Het Urker Mannenkoor ' Hallelujah' singing Genevan Psalm 138. With their sturdy voices, it would be difficult to imagine a starker contrast to those of the Kampen Boys Choir.

22 Mar 2024

Psalms 121 and 122: Kampen Boys Choir

There is a certain quality we associate with the English choral tradition best embodied in the boys choir. Here the treble and bass voices are distributed amongst pre-pubescent and adolescent boys, giving the overall tone an ethereal lightness popularly ascribed to the angels in heaven. Choral evensong in the great cathedrals well exemplifies this tradition.

But to find this heritage carried on in the Netherlands is something of a surprise. One might expect the Kampen Boys Choir to be called Kampen Jongenskoor, but so committed is the ensemble to the English choral tradition that even its name is English. Dress the boys up in red cassocks and white surplices and parade them around the Bovenkerk, and you'd think you were in Oxford or Cambridge rather than in a city of 50,000 in the Dutch province of Overijssel.

Here is the Kampen Boys Choir singing Psalms 121 and 122, not from the Genevan Psalter, but from Miles Coverdale's prose psalter to Anglican chant:

19 Mar 2024

Psalm 46: Nijenhuis

Here is Psalm 46 as arranged by our Hamilton neighbour Tim Nijenhuis, locally known musician and visual artist:

14 Mar 2024

Psalternatif: Psalms 1 and 2

Our friend Roeland Scherff has posted two more videos of performances of the Genevan Psalms. These are the first two Psalms, Psalm 1 being in a jazz style and Psalm 2 in a rock and roll style:

8 Mar 2024

Parker's Psalm 68

In addition to Psalm 1, The Cardinall's Musick has also posted Archbishop Parker's versification of Psalm 68. Again, the tenor soloist sings the tune once before the choir joins in.

7 Mar 2024

Parker's Psalm 1

Here is Archbishop Parker's rendition of Psalm 1, set to Thomas Tallis' tune, performed by The Cardinall's Musick, under the direction of Andrew Carwood. This particular video was posted not quite two months ago. It is good that the tenor soloist sings the melody first, because it is easy to lose track of the melody in a full choral performance.

Here is Parker's full versified text. Note once again the internal rhymes in the odd-numbered lines, as in his Psalm 2 text.

4 Mar 2024

The midnight office

The March issue of Christian Courier carries my most recent column, The Midnight Office, continuing from last month's piece on daily prayer. An excerpt:

Last month I recounted my youthful discovery of the discipline of daily prayer, also known as the daily office. According to this pattern, whose origins almost certainly extend back to God’s people of the old covenant, the entire day is divided up into approximately three-hour intervals punctuated by the several prayer offices. The number varies between five and seven, and sometimes more.

However, one of these offices puzzled me, because it occurred in the middle of the night when I assumed most normal people would be sleeping. If we are sleeping an average of eight hours per night, wouldn’t rising to pray in the middle of this period be a huge disruption? Perhaps that’s why the daily office was relegated to the monks, who were accustomed to cultivating heroic disciplines for the sake of their Saviour.

More than ten years ago, I learned something that solved the puzzle.

Read the entire article here.