Singing Hymns and Psalms

When churches add more hymns to their ‘repertoire’, often the assurance is given that more hymns will not replace the Psalms. Yet, practically this does not work out.

Going to church as a teenager, I remember singing after the Lord’s Supper, in response and echoing the form, from Psalm 103: “He sweeps the sins of all those who revere him, as far away as east is from the west” (stanza 7). But now we have Lord’s Supper hymns, and we now sing in response “By Christ redeemed, in Christ restored, Him who was cursed we now adore” (Hymn 60).

After the Baptism we usually sang from Psalm 105, about God’s covenant with David. Sometimes another covenantal Psalm that spoke about God’s faithfulness, or Psalm 23. We have left this behind us and now we sing “Our children, Lord, as covenant heirs, are baptized in your name” (Hymn 58), or other hymns about baptism.

At the end of the worship service, we sang doxologies from the Psalms, such as Psalm 72 “O God, in all the earth our chorus with ‘Amen’, ‘Amen’ rings”, Psalm 48 “Such is God, our God, forever; He, our guide, will leave us never”, Psalm 79 “We shall forever praises render”. But now we have new hymns that have replaced these old Psalms and sing “Glory be to the Father” (Hymn 9).

Nothing wrong with the hymns itself, or choosing hymns in the worship service, as long as they are balanced. What I mean: when we never or hardly sing a Psalm as a doxology, or when we never sing a Psalm after a baptism, or always sing the same Lord’s Supper hymns in the Lord’s Supper service.

The Psalms are seeing a resurgence (1) and many churches are asking advice on how to become a psalm singing church. Our churches have traditionally been psalm singing churches, but some Psalms tunes have become unfamiliar and some Psalm text sound foreign. In several congregations we have shifted to singing more Hymns than Psalms in relation to the number of songs.

Hopefully the resurgence of the Psalms will also impact our churches, with a renewed appreciation for the God-given songs, increased familiarity of the tunes, and a deep, emotional connection with the text.

  • ; Getty Music Conference 2018 ;


Comments are closed.