I’ve been thinking lately about the way many churches (including mine) have let the practice of Psalm-singing slip away. I also wonder why. Why do we neglect singing from the Bible’s songbook together? Surely there is much to be gained by singing directly from God’s word, especially when it is written in the form of song. So I’ve decided to embark on an epic journey to find some great arrangements of Psalms with a more with contemporary style. (I would LOVE to hear your suggestions! Please comment if you know some.) In the meantime, consider some of these thoughts on the Psalms from MERE INKLING’s robstroud:
. . . the Psalms are the foundation and epitome of worship music for Jews and Christians alike. One could read a Psalm each day and since there are one hundred and fifty, when you returned to the first psalm five months after beginning, it would be utterly fresh. C.S. Lewis enjoyed the Psalms. The following passage comes from a letter written in 1940.
“My enjoyment of the Psalms has been greatly increased lately. The point has been made before, but let me make it again: what an admirable thing it is in the divine economy that the sacred literature of the world should have been entrusted to a people whose poetry, depending largely on parallelism, should remain poetry in any language you translate it into. And glorious poetry it is. The beauty of the songs extends far beyond the family “Lord is my shepherd . . .” And yet, it would be impossible to comprehend the number of grieving souls that have been comforted with the words “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Most Christian traditions greatly value the Psalms, and many include them as a portion of the regular service or liturgy. And individuals who include them in the personal devotions are never disappointed. C.S. Lewis included them in his prayer and devotion. In fact, he enjoyed the Psalms so much that in 1958 he wrote a book entitled Reflections on the Psalms. There he proclaims, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express that same delight in God which made David dance.”
The Church has added an immense repertoire to the Psalms during the past two millennia, but they will never be replaced. In fact, many inspired songs owe a major debt to the Psalms themselves. This includes the Odes of Solomon, the first (post-Psalms) Christian hymnal (composed circa 100 A.D.). Speaking of the Odes, I wrote a thesis on them many years ago, and have been considering writing a book about these treasures. Perhaps I’ll share more about them in the future. (Nb. The lovely window pictured above is from a church in Fringford, England. David was likely a bit younger when most of the psalms he composed were written.)”
You may also enjoy:
C.S.Lewis on Musical Taste and Grace Oh for a humble attitude to church
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I sung psalms in 4 part harmony chant every service when I was growing up, there are some beautiful chants in 4parts. Not very contemporary though.
Thanks Rosemary – yes! I know we had a split page section for the Psalms in our old blue pressie hymn book – so you could interchange tunes easily. Shall have to dig it out. I don’t really remember singing any as a child though. So even in the 70s it was going out of vogue. Think that is when Scripture in Song rose to fame.
There were Psalms (we used to call them spasms) in my younger years, before the seventies!, the early Scripture in Song if my memory is not letting me down had some, but I feel these are not the sort of songs you are looking for.
You are right – and yes I know people sang spasms! before the 70s. I think I used the call them ‘palms’
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Been meaning to leave a comment.
We sing one Psalm a week among out other choices.
Depends on your church’s version of contemporary.
We found the Book Of Psalms For Worship useful as a number (not all) of it’s updated word sets are set to known or popular hymn tunes.
There’s a fellow on bandcamp called Matt Searles who has produced a couple of albums of Psalms to new tunes.
New Scottish have a good version of Psalm 139.
Zac Hick’s Psalm 76 will blow your socks off.
Nathan Clark George and Greg Wilbur have some interesting stuff in their catalogues.
Great will check them out. Thanks for taking the time to comment. My list is growing!
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Thinking about the Psalms…