17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Love God, love God's lyrics,
This review is from: Book of Psalms for Singing (Hardcover)
God so loved us as to show us His taste in lyrics--let's learn what He likes! This book gives us ALL of EACH of the 150 Psalms, set to hymn or hymn-type tunes (e.g. Psalm 3 to "Amazing Grace," Psalm 101 to "The Church's One Foundation"), sometimes more than one tune (Psalm 23 offers four tunes: 23A, 23B, 23C, 23D), a few times with a "chant" or special tune as an option along with a hymn-type tune. Longer Psalms are broken up into hymn-length pieces: Psalm 119A through Psalm 119X. This enables us to sing some version of God's songs (at least the Psalms; there are other songs in the Bible). I like to say I'd rather tell Madonna, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath--or Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman and Larnelle Harris--that Psalm 119 is a singable lyric, than tell the Holy Ghost that it is not. What does your choice of songs tell Him?
(I can chant Psalm 119 in 15 minutes; singing may take around half an hour, maybe more the first time. I've put all 150 Psalms onto less than 8 hours of tape. I think 79 Psalms have no more than 12 Bible verses, which'll make no more than a long hymn; 52 others have no more than 24, a very very long hymn; only 19 Psalms exceed 24 Bible verses.)
This is my favorite Psalter; I've sung through it about four or so times a year since I first got one in A.D. 1992.
The publishers, Crown & Covenant Publications of Pittsburg, PA, have all the tunes on their website; they offer at least a printed list of familiar hymns BoPfS (Book of Psalms for Singing) uses; they have CDs of many of these being sung. On my website I have a list of familiar tunes, and a list of my favorites. I have accordion chords for all the tunes; I think, from one or two sessions with a guitarist, that guitar chords would be similar, though I don't know music theory (and you may find it easier doing your own chords than connecting mine to where they go in the music.) I have some more comments on Psalm singing and on Psalters. From an A.D. 1927 United Presbyterian denomination "Psalter Hymnal," old enough not to worry too much about copyrights, I've put the tunes I like on youtube, singing with accordion, though BoPfS is the Psalter I live in. (I use my own name on the web; think of it as a rehearsal for the Judgment Day.) BoPfS uses a few of the 1927 tunes; I think I made notes of such cases.
Crown & Covenant has put out a newer Psalter, "The Book of Psalms for Worship," and I have a copy. If it enables someone to sing the Psalms, great--it gets rid of the thees, thous, and Jehovahs one reviewer didn't care for--but I don't think it'll displace BoPfS for me, and I recommend BoPfS over it for the following reasons: (1) The decision to replace the name "Jehovah" with the title "the LORD" is contrary to my preference; indeed, when I sing thru BoPfS, I sometimes manage to insert "Jehovah" where BPS has "Lord." (2) From comparison of the first four Psalms, I think BPS tends to more literal accuracy, the newer one to paraphrase; and I prefer literal accuracy (Young's Literal is my favorite English Bible, though it may be too difficult for some people.) In Psalm 3 I considered BPS and BPW about equal. My 1927 Psalter, and the Christian Reformed Church's A.D. 1982 or so Psalter Hymnal, paraphrase far too loosely for my taste--I'm sure "The Book of Psalms for Worship" is far better than they.
I may think BPW(orship)'s music a wee bit more likeable than BPS on average, but in the first 20 Psalms I haven't gone "Oh wow, I love that tune!" as I did a couple dozen times in BPS and a fair number in the 1927 psalter. I think BPW dropped a few of my favorite tunes, and moved others to different psalms; nothing wrong with that, but it did not improve matters. BPW puts a Bible verse atop each page, which is fine, but both BPS and BPW omit the headings, e.g. "Psalm of David," and I'd like to see those in. (Theologian James B. Jordan of "Biblical Horizons" says old theologian Robert Dick Wilson, who spent 15 years learning Bible languages and related languages, said the headings should be considered part of the text, part of the Bible. Leave them in; also "The prayers of David son of Jesse have been ended" at the foot of Psalm 72; also "Selah.").
You could get one each of BPS and BPW and have a sing-off. I got the CRC Psalter Hymnal and PBS at the same time and dipped into both, and within a dozen or so of each BPS pulled away.
The denomination, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, that publishes BPS and BPW, believes that ONLY Psalms should be sung in worship, a position sometimes called "exclusive psalmody." (I'm not sure what this amounts to in practice, in church life; Crown & Covenant does sell some non-Psalm CDs.) So they need Psalters, and thank God they've made good ones. My position, learned from Jim Jordan, I call "inclusive psalmody:" since God gave us the Psalms, we need to make the effort to receive His gift, all of each--e.g. a church should teach its people the psalms, a family should learn them, a determined individual can learn them--but the psalms themselves call for "new song" and the Bible contains songs that are not Psalms, including at least some in Revelation in the New Testament. Church music without the psalms is adrift on a sea of impulses; the psalms are an anchor, or a compass. As Tim Gallant says, Christian musicians should master and be mastered by the Psalms before they rely on themselves too much.
On the "associated content" website, I've put my own even more literal versions of some of the Psalms--1 thru 17 as of Nov A.D. 2010--to familiar hymn tunes: sung with accordion, and, separately, the lyrics with a few comments. Between youtube and associated content I also have a few other Psalm versions: Psalm 119 chanted, Psalm 120 to a Richard Wagner tune, Psalm 2 to a Scott Joplin tune, part of 103 to Mozart, Psalm 24 KJV to a tune of my own devising. FWIW.
Love God, love God's lyrics.