Hopson, Hal H. The People's Psalter. Fenton, MO: Morning Star Music Publishers, 2008. 301 Pages. Spiral bound. $38.00. 1-800-647-2117 http://www.morningstarmusic.com/ (LH)
Van Harn, Roger E. and Brent A. Strawn. Psalms for Preaching and Worship: A Lectionary Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009. 535 Pages. Paper. $35.00. http://www.eerdmans.com/ (LHP)
Witvliet, John D. The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship: A Brief Introduction & Guide to Resources.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007. 169 Pages. Paperback. $16.00. http://www.eerdmans.com/ (LHP)
Christians can and should recover the use of the psalms at worship. As Liturgy, Hymnody, & Pulpit Quarterly Book Review continues to reflect on the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod Model Theological Conference on Worship last January and prepares for a Wyoming District Theological Conference on Worship in June of 2011, I hope that this recovery of the psalms can be part of how we get beyond the so-called "worship wars" with a unified Lutheran theology of worship that can show unison doctrine sung in a variety of harmonious practices. At this point, there is dissonance. Not all practices are faithful to our Lutheran theology. Therefore, I pray that we can move Toward Concordia in Christ at Worship.
Three resources on the psalms are before us.
The second part of Psalms for Preaching and Worship reprints The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship (PPW, 393). I found this part to be the most helpful of the two parts of the larger 2009 book. For so many (ELCA) Lutherans included in the larger, newer work, I was surprised by the lack of Lutheran recommendations. Sadly, even though this book appeared three years after the introduction of new hymnals for the ELCA and the LCMS, our 1978 and 1982 hymns are still listed (464). I cannot think of a good reason why this section has not been updated and I do not wish to speculate.
• A total of 117 different settings
• Melodies drawn from over 25 countries around the world
• Eloquently simple, easily learned refrains
• Opportunity for creative use of Unison Children's voices and/or Adult choirs and Cantors of all ages
• Variety of accompaniments that are interesting and indigenous to each melody
• Creative use of piano, organ, melody/descanting instrument, handbells, and percussion
• Includes reproducible refrains for congregation and reproducible parts for instrumentalists
• Includes CD with congregational refrains in both PDF and TIFF format
(reproduced from publisher's website)
The People's Psalter shows how to do psalms in worship in a new way, beyond "spoken half verse by half verse" and sung according to LBW/LW/ELW/LSB psalm tones, in addition to refrains like CW and HS98.
The Reformed have had an interesting history with hymns and church music, largely preferring metrical psalms to hymns early on, even after the great example of the chorales of Martin Luther.
Why do I like this collection? It brings a several musical worlds together.
Hopson has rewoven melodies from around the world (including American hymn tunes and Orthodox liturgical music) to give voice to psalm texts in various translations and metrical versions. That is the great idea behind this collection.
Many famous hymn melodies began as tunes for psalm paraphrases. Hopson reuses hymn tunes as psalm melodies. We have come full circle!
I may have preferred a different title for this resource, but The People's Psalter is true to its name in that the people are given something of substance that is durable, singable, and memorable. I especially remember Psalm 4, Psalm 9, Psalm 46 (my favorite in the collection), and Psalm 51 among many others.
Copyright permission is covered for purchasers. The enclosed CD-Rom makes bulletin inserts a snap.
A variety of instrumentation could be employed.
I look forward to more resources like this from MorningStar!
The Psalter is the first hymnal of the Christian Church. And it should return to prominence among Christians of all traditions. LHP QBR will continue to seek out more resources on the Psalms to encourage faithful worship theology and practice Toward Concordia in Christ at Worship.
The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.