Singing more Psalms

The Bay Psalter was the first printed book in North America, but many American churches don’t sing Psalms anymore.

In the last few years, there is much talk about singing Psalms: rediscover and reintroduce Psalm singing. For example, in 2018, the Getty conference was dedicated to singing Psalms.

Some churches always include the Psalms in their liturgy, others have sung the Psalms in the past, and some churches have never sung the Psalms. In our churches, we sing most of the Psalms every Sunday. Our children know and sing the Psalms. We sing the Psalms in church, at school, at home, at bible study, and youth camps. The Psalms were treasured by previous generations and are passed on to the next.

Therefore, Keith Getty is “preaching to the choir” (the choir: meaning our churches). And so are Joel Beeke, Tim Challies, the Gospel Coalition, Reformation21, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and many others. They actively continue to encourage churches to sing (more) Psalms, and our tradition is singing mostly Psalms. Our churches seem to be ahead of the curve.

The request for more hymns at our 2019 Synod is therefore surprising. Churches are encouraged to sing (more) Psalms, and yet, our Reformed churches want more hymns instead! Our churches’ past experience, and studies have shown that the addition of hymns decreases the singing of Psalms 1.).

We need more hymns so that “new Christians and ‘inquirers’ can find a church home.” 2.) But… it are the Psalms that touch many people in this world. The Psalms are more familiar than we might think to new Christians and inquirers.

Last year Kim Kardashian named their baby intentionally “Psalm,” explaining her motivation. The actor Chris Pratt quotes from the Psalms regularly, and singers like Carrie Underwood use themes from the Psalms in their songs. However, many people in this world relate to the Psalms, yet, they don’t always see Jesus in the Psalms (e.g. Mark Zuckerberg inspired by Psalm 139 to start Facebook).

Let’s sing more hymns? No, show the world Jesus by (continuing to) sing the Psalms!

1.) For example: Schotanus, Y., Koops, H. V., & Edworthy, J. R. (2018). Interaction Between Musical and Poetic Form Affects Song Popularity: The Case of the Genevan Psalter. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind & Brain28(3), 127–151.

2.) Acts of General Synod Edmonton 2019 (Art 142)

Posted on: January 18, 2020, by :