Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Singing through the Psalter

After the Genevan Psalter was complete, in 1562, the Geneva Church would sing through the whole Psalter twice per year during its three weekly services. Here is the lectionary (click "read online" and search for p. 135; or go to bottom of this post for a JPEG of the lectionary):



It is interesting to note that not all the songs had to "fit" homiletically according to the text or topic of the sermon; there were other considerations. Here the very large consideration was that the Psalter be sung through regularly.

Notice also that whole Psalms were sung through except, of course, the very long Psalms.

Here is p. 135, the lectionary:

5 comments:

Frank said...

These is an historical fact - but what does a 21st century Reformed minister think about this? "Interesting idea, dear Calvin, but you're totally out to lunch..."?

In our Reformed churches we promote the reading through Scripture entirely, and not just our favorite bible stories. Calvin applied that principle to the Psalm singing as well, as the Psalms are part of Scripture and should be treated the same.

In our churches our pastors generally stick to the favorite stanzas (of the Psalms) of the congregation. In other denominations usually sing all stanzas of a hymn and not "the 2nd and 4th stanza of Abide with me"...

I know of situations that our church members responded very emotionally, refusing to understand the choice for a non-popular Psalm. Seeing our liturgy sheets, we seem to acquiesce, instead of educating the church members.

Would singing through the entire Psalter be admirable? Promoting this in our Reformed churches seems like "tilting at windmills"… Was Calvin indeed out to lunch and should we quickly forget about this lectionary idea…?

George van Popta said...

Frank, I think finding some mechanism to sing through the Psalter, perhaps annually, would be good. The Psalms address each attribute of God, every aspect of the gospel, and the full range of what it means to be human. I can only imagine how blessed a congregation would be if such annual singing through the Psalter were part of our practice. In some respects, it would parallel our annual trip through the catechism, that little booklet that tells it all. My colleague Wes has more to say about it over here: http://yinkahdinay.wordpress.com/

John Barach said...

George, I came across this lecture on singing the Psalms today, from my friend James Jordan, and thought you might be interested:

http://www.wordmp3.com/details.aspx?id=10166

John Barach said...

Let me try that again to make the link clickable: "Learning the Psalter"

George van Popta said...

Thanks, John.