Category Archives: Music

Do You Ever Sing the Psalms?

Do you sing the Psalms?   I’ll admit, I have very little experience or knowledge in this area. But I do want to grow in my knowledge and, hopefully, practice of singing the Psalms. After all, Psalms are, by definition, songs. They were meant to be sung. Many of the Psalms are preceded by instructions to the musicians who would lead the people in singing the song (psalm). For example, these words precede Psalm 55 (MEV):

For the Music Director. With stringed instruments. A Contemplative Maskil of David.

Perhaps you are aware that many churches in the past only sung Psalms in their worship service. Churches that started using hymns in worship were considered by the traditionalists as liberal and radical! It seems that today the pendulum has swung to the other extreme, because now it is rare to go to any church that sings a single Psalm in an entire calendar year!

I believe we need to find some balance. After all, we are commanded to sing Psalms:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  (Colossians 3.16, MEV)

Speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.  (Ephesians 5.19, MEV)

So where find resources to help you sing the Psalms? Here are some websites that might be of service to you on this topic:

The Psalms Project – Gifted musicians, including some well-known Christian artists, combine to set the Psalms to contemporary worship.

Contemporary Psalms – Blogger Christine Longhurst has set up an index of contemporary worships songs inspired by the Psalms. Some of the links are broken/out of date.

Prayerbook – Artist Brian Moss is seeking to write tunes for all the Psalms. Looks like he has two CDs out so far, covering Psalms 1-30.

If you want to go for a more traditional approach, there is always the Scottish Metrical Psalmbook (commonly known as the 1650 Scottish Psalter). These metrical psalms are the books of Psalms, rewritten to be easily set to song. Here is the always popular Psalm 23 in metrical form:

1. The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.

2. My soul He doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own Name’s sake.

3. Yea, though I walk through death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill,
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

4. A table Thou hast furnished me
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.

5. Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me,
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling place shall be.

Here are a couple of youtube videos of Psalm 23 in this form:

 

If you are interested in owning the 1650 Scottish Psalter, the Trinitarian Bible Society has copies available for as little as $5.50. They also offer it as an appendix to the Windsor Text Bible. I own this version (TBS Windsor w/ Metrical Psalms). If you want a cheaper copy, they have the hardback edition for only $20.

Finally, I found thepsalmssung.org, a blog that offers mp3 musical renditions of several of the psalms. It’s worth a browse, at minimum.

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Rich Mullins Graduated to Glory Fifteen Years Ago Today

On September 19, 1997, somewhere on I-39 north of Bloomington, Illinois, Rich Mullins was involved in an accident that resulted in his death. I was privileged to meet and hang out with Rich for about 30 minutes one night in college with a few of my classmates. He was down-to-earth, engaging, provocative, and fun. As I reflect upon his life, I loved his music, his artistic word pictures, and his anti-celebrity. Hard to believe it’s been fifteen years.