Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So every year I write and put on a little show for "Grandparent's Day" at school. This year I themed it on the Pilgrims. I decided to feed my purist/history geek/reformed side and make the kids sing psalms, since that's what the Pilgrims sung. The result has been somewhat boring.

When I was younger singing those 400 year old psalm tunes in a congregational setting was an amazing aesthetic experience for me.

Now as a music educator and all-around sacred music proponent my search for that tune that will get others excited about singing psalms has not been very successful.

I'll be honest, I could do a lot more research. I misplaced the one psalter that I own, and I have always balked at buying a psalter because I just want the real deal like the Geneva Psalter or the Scottish Psalter. (Camera flashes back to me, begging a Philadelphia music pastor to borrow a psalter cause I know I have to pick out music for Grandparents Day. There goes THAT networking opportunity, now that he knows I'm a freak.)

But I know that however much I search, most of those psalm tunes are going to be very plain and not hugely marketable to my people.

I want someone to compile the old tunes (Scottish Psalter, Genevan Psalter) that are most sung today by psalm-singing congregations. I don't know why the OPC hymnal only has a few psalms. And it seems like publishers tend to publish a lot of untested compositions when they put out a new psalter or hymnal. Someone just tell me the good stuff, please.

Anyway here are some interesting websites I came across.

Here are all the tunes of the Genevan Psalter, recorded by this one guy. He is in my itunes now. I don't know how that helps except that one day, if I learn these by listening, when I own a Psalter and I'm having my devotions it will be easier meditate on the words as I sing them. I didn't take the time to listen to these before making the 'Grandparents Day' script.

And then I came across what Doug Wilson's church does. Apparently the guy there is composing new psalm tunes. My mom heard one of the videos in this article and said "so they went back to chant?" It's definitely not chant but I can see the parallels.

Anyway, I know as a musicologist I have much to learn (I'm describing the tunes as "simple, plain" when I should be saying "unmetered, syllabic" etc., and I don't know my psalter 'genealogies'). But I'm just throwing it out here, on my blog, that I'm interested in this stuff and I want to learn more.

Also I'm using this forum to say that I feel terribly bad for making my students practice psalm tunes all week and learn ALL the verses to 'Come Ye Thankful People Come.' November to January lesson plans are going to be ALL pagan singing games and folk dances.


  1. Have you seen the new Reformed Pres psalter?

    It's pretty amazing; I think you'd be impressed :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I'll get it upon your recommendation!

  4. oh becky, how i love you. your last paragraph--i literally LOL'd. haha

  5. If you ever want to know more about chanting psalms let me know! I literally have made a career of it :) - adam