Sunday, October 28, 2007

Let Them Sing Psalms!

I long for the ploughboy to sing them to himself as he follows the plow, the weaver to hum them to the tune of his shuttle, the traveler to beguile with them the dullness of his journey. ~Erasmus
I happen to love good hyms. John Newton's are my special favorites. But there is something about psalm-singing that tops even Watts, Bonar, and Newton. Maybe it is the knowledge that these psalms have been sung for millenia by people who love the Lord. The singing of psalms has always been a tool among His people used for comfort, blessing, and meditation.

There is a certain unity among the Lord's people to be felt when you sing the scriptures. True, our rhyme and meter of our psalters are of English-speaking man's invention, but the spirit of the words is a common thread that binds Christians and Messianic Jews through the ages to the living and inspired Word of God.

The French Huguenots found the Psalter to be an invaluable aid for keeping up their courage and strength in the midst of persecution. It was said by a Catholic bishop of the time that, "To know these Psalms by heart is, among the Huguenots, a sign of the communion to which they belong; and in the towns in which they are most numerous the airs may be heard coming from the mouths of artisans, and, in the country, from those of tillers of soil."

How wonderful it would be to dispel the worldly pollution in our homes, cities, and countrysides by the cheerful uplifting of our voices in psalm tunes! Wouldn't it be nice to take a stroll down your street and listen as your neighbors sang to the Lord with joy in their hearts? Perhaps though, it is your neighbors who need to hear your voice singing praises to the God of heaven and earth. What a witness this would be!

Think with me how much good is ours to accomplish by psalm-singing. Not only are we able to alleviate some of the cares of our day by getting our thoughts back onto the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:2), but as we sing audibly, others who could be struggling with their own troubles may hear our words and be comforted by them.

The apostle Paul encourages us to "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 heart to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16) Singing the psalter is quite helpful for memorizing the Word and allowing it to dwell in your hearts. Many times in my Bible reading, when I come to a psalm I have sung before, I hear the tune coming to mind as I read over the passage. Then, instead of going away a forgetful hearer, the psalm is still with me in song as I go on with the business of the day.

What a treasure we have in our psalters! There was a time, before the Reformation (as many of you know), when the entire Word of God was kept from the common people. But did you remember that congregations of those days were only permitted to listen as members of the clergy sang chants in a language unfamiliar to all but those who sang it? It was not until the days of John Calvin that the scriptures were translated into singable verses with equally singable melodies and delivered into the hands and hearts of lay people. Then even children could have access to the psalms we still sing today.

How thankful we should be to have this continuing heritage of psalm-singing! We have such easy access to the Word of God, not just on paper, but set to music as well! I wonder if we recognize how blessed we are?

Here are a few sites you may wish to visit: Psalter has metrical versions of the Psalms, and piano accompaniment to some of them.

Killearn Free Church of Scotland has mp3s you can download for free. Beautiful a capella men's voices-- with a Scottish accent too! I made myself a CD of these guys.

I have this CD by the Scottish Philharmonic Singers. Very good.

Here is a page about the French/Genevan Psalter. Scroll down to view the psalms they have available.

Do you have any favorite psalm CDs? Does your church use a psalter? Which is your favorite psalm? Mine is 147.

This post is a part of the Reformation Day Symposium on Tim Challies's blog.


Blogger Susan said...

*falls over in shock* I'd given your blog up for dead, Jessie! I'd even removed it from my sidebar (I figure if 7 years renders a person dead, 8 1/2 months oughta be enough for a blog. . . ). I only checked your blog today because of John Dekker's entreaty via Facebook, thinking maybe you responded.

I love this post :-). I wish I had more exposure to regular Psalm singing, because I do love singing Psalms! I'm having a brain block on something to post for Reformation Day. Hmm.

10/31/2007 1:47 PM  
Anonymous John Dekker said...

Great to have you blogging again, Jessie! I'm glad my entreaty worked. :)

I used to catch the bus to university every day, and every day we would drive past Duke St, whereupon I would start singing Psalm 145, second version. But I have to admit, I didn't sing very loud. :(

10/31/2007 3:31 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

I have revived, Susan. Sometime I'll have to write a post about my after-bloglife experiences. I tell you, it was mystical. Actually I should probably write a book and sell it and make millions of dollars... but of course I'll give you (and John) free copies. Signed. : )

Yes, John, yours was an effectual call, LOL. That's too fun about Duke Street. I love that tune.

10/31/2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Oh, and Susan, perhaps in not finding anything to write for Ref. Day, you're experiencing your first bit of Mommy Brain! : )

10/31/2007 3:37 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I'd like a free copy of your book too :)

I started attending a Free Presbyterian Church two months ago and we sing Psalms from the hymn book.

I will listen to the Psalms you have in those links.I remember listening to some Psalms sung in Gaelic on Keziah's blog.

Do you have a psalter?

11/01/2007 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Hooray! Jessie's back!

11/02/2007 8:53 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Hey Amy! : )

Robert, you must have the hymnal called Hymns of Grace and Glory. I go to a Free Presbyterian church too and we have the same hymnbook/psalter. So are you going to the Dunlop's church? How did you find out about the FPC?

11/02/2007 1:31 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Yes,that is the name of the hymn book we use.

Yes,it's Aaron Dunlop's church.Two weeks ago I went to their home for lunch after morning services.During a discussion I mentioned that I read a blogger that goes to a FPC in North Carolina.Grace than asked if her name was Jessica and I said yes.She remembered meeting you after a sermon Aaron gave a couple of years ago! We were all surprised about that.Was that the only time that you meet them? They also have a 13 week old baby named Robert James.

I found out about the FPC through an ad in a local paper.I then read more on their website and the links to the main church site and seromaudio.I was looking for a church with traditional views and services.

I didn't know you went to a FPC until I saw your family website about 4 months ago.

11/03/2007 8:16 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

The only time I've ever met Grace was that time she mentioned! I don't remember telling her I had a blog though, so that's interesting that she should have recognized me. She seemed sweet from the few minutes I got to see her. You could tell her I said hey and congratulations on baby Robert tomorrow if you think of it! : )

11/03/2007 10:23 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I said hi to Grace yesterday and she said hi back.She also remembered that you worked at the library.

11/05/2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger miss andrea said...


Oh! The book Psalms has long been a favorite of mine. Until a few years ago, I didn't realize that people still sang them.:) What a delightful discovery that was!

Are you familiar with the Serven family's cds?? Though they use a different psalter then we, they are so much fun to sing along with in four part harmony.

By His Grace,

11/15/2007 10:44 AM  
Anonymous MotherLode said...

I love seeing someone has posted about Psalms & the Psalter. Although I can't get the Killearn link to work!

5/18/2009 1:29 AM  
Anonymous MotherLode said...

Maybe this?

5/18/2009 1:38 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home