Friday, December 30, 2011

Liturgy and Hymnody Review: Sing More Psalms

Blessed Is the Man: A Man's Journey Through the Psalms (Psalms of Lament). St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 226 Pages. Paper. $9.99. (LHP)

Faithfulness: Selections from The Book of Psalms for Worship. Pittsburgh: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2011. Audio CD. $15.00. (H) 

Hallel: Selections from The Book of Psalms for Worship. Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant Publications, 2011. Audio CD. $15.00. (H)

The Board of Education and Publication of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. The Book of Psalms for Worship (Fifth Printing, slightly revised). Pittsburgh: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2010/2011. 590 Pages. Cloth. $19.00. (H)

The Revised Grail Psalms. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2010. Paper. 327 Pages. $11.95. (LH)

Steele, Roland. Psalter Cycle A. Corpus Christi, TX: Roland Publishing, 2006. Spiral Bound. $29.95.  (LH) 

Steele, Roland. Psalter Cycle B. Corpus Christi, TX: Roland Publishing, 2006. Spiral Bound. $29.95.

Steele, Roland. Psalter Cycle C. Corpus Christi, TX: Roland Publishing, 2004. Spiral Bound. $29.95.  (LH) 


They are the prayerbook of the Bible and the Church's first Hymnal.

And I think we need to sing them more. We should pray them more. 

Not only does the Psalter tie us to the Israelite Church of the Old Testament, but we join in praying with our Lord and His disciples and the Church of every age, especially, but not limited to Martin Luther himself.

First up is one of four volumes in a series on the Psalms for men.

Real Men. Real Stories. Real Savior.

Who is this product for? Real men who want to know a real Savior. With the help of this devotional Bible study, you can create a comfortable, yet challenging, place for men to be men, as they live according to God’s purposes.

What does this provide for you?
• Real stories written by real men. These remarkable stories connect to God’s Word with an in-depth study of the Psalms.
• A daily look at Scripture. This study gives a structured study plan for men to follow.
• An opportunity for fellowship in an authentic, natural atmosphere.

What is it?
Men, take this journey together through Blessed Is the Man to discover how Christ your Savior builds your character and integrity through His Word. You will read real stories from other men sharing how they deal with the realities of daily life and the challenges and opportunities they face. This study helps you live out the greatest adventure every man is given: a life rooted in God’s Word and anchored in blessings of Christ.

Session 1: Psalm 44
Session 2: Psalm 74
Session 3: Psalm 77
Session 4: Psalm 80
Session 5: Psalm 83
Session 6: Psalm 90
Be sure to stop by our ministry partner, The Men's Network, to learn how to build a successful men's ministry at (publisher's website)
Take six weeks and study through the psalms of lament on your own, or with a group of men at your congregation. Study a psalm a week.  Each week begins with the full psalm in ESV. Daily study segments include a portion of the psalm, a meditation, prayer, and study questions. Each week concludes with Luther's commentary on the psalm and a two-page reproducible group Bible study.

Authors are Lutheran and it shows! Readers are directed to Christ in the Word and the Sacraments. They include a seminary professor, a pastor, a seminarian, an LCMS Congressman, and very knowledgeable and active lay Lutheran Christians.

I particularly appreciated the helps for men's ministry (especially the glossary at the end) and Dr. Biermann's Introduction to the Psalms.

All four volumes in the series are now on sale. I recommend that you invest in at least one for 2012.

Other Items in the series
   Blessed Is the Man: Psalms of Divine Wisdom
   Blessed Is the Man: Psalms of Praise
   Blessed Is the Man: Psalms of the Messiah

We were pleased to receive two more CDs of recordings of selections from The Book of Psalms for Worship (and the latest edition of that Psalter). In addition, we would like to feature a new version of the Grail Psalter and three volumes of Psalm settings intended for use in liturgical churches.

Our original review of The Book of Psalms for Worship  (hereafter BPW) is one of QBR's most popular blog posts (; See also


During the Last Supper, Christ and his disciples celebrated the Passover meal, which traditionally includes the singing of the Hallel, Psalms 113-118. When Matthew records that "after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives," that hymn is understood to be from the Hallel.
New Song, a music ministry group from Geneva College, perform psalms 113-118 from the Book of Psalms for Worship.

You can download the lyrics from Hallel here.(Publisher's website)
Of the tunes used for these psalms in BPW, only two are familiar to Lutherans: HENDON (113A, LSB 784) and ST. ANNE (115, LSB 733).

If I were to share but one critique, I may urge a more limited use of vibrato in singing.

How could these Psalms be more profitably used? 
  • As special Offertories sung by choir and/or for 
    • Lent
    • Holy Week
    • Maundy Thursday
    • any Divine Service
  • Graduals or Introits
  • Choir Anthems

Tim and Kaylee McCracken return for a second recording of music from The Book of Psalms for Worship in Faithfulness.

The CD includes psalms 1A, 13B, 23A, 28A, 40B, 47C, 59B, 67C, 68A, 99A, 100E, 102C, 103A, 104C, 107I, 117B, 119N, 128B, 131B, and 132B.
(Publisher's website)
Psalm 1A is particularly memorable when sung to ELLACOME. CLEVELAND's soulful tune shows the hope evident in Psalm 13B. St. COLUMBA worthily supports a more literal version of Psalm 23A. Mozart's AMADEUS provides a wonderful opportunity for a choir to share Psalm 28A with a congregation.

I found Psalm 47C to be delightful because of the familiar tune (though not one included in our hymnal) and Psalm 67C was an appropriate choice for the vigorous tune THAXTED. ARNSBERG was another particularly well-chosen tune for the text of Psalm 99A, as was ASH GROVE for "The Trees of the Lord," Psalm 104C, and Psalm 119N, "Your Word's a Lamp," with TALLIS' CANON.

I could go on and on, but let this suffice for my recommendation of Faithfulness, a CD worth listening to again and again, yet also a model of singing the psalms and a motivation for listeners to do so!

In a 2011 Fifth Printing, The Book of Psalms for Worship was slightly revised according to the recommendations of the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.

In brief:
  • Psalms 19C, 47C, 150C, and 150D were removed
  • Psalm 24B was revised
  • Psalm 136D was added
Why? I can only give educated guesses. 

The deletion of Psalms 19C and 150D may have been done due to copyright issues with the tunes.

Psalm 24B has been shortened. It no longer has a two-system five-fold Hallelujah and triple Amen.

The addition of Psalm 136D gives singers a version of all twenty-six verses of the psalm in seven stanzas set to LLANFAIR.

The fifth printing and previous editions may be used profitably together in the same setting with these differences noted.

How have I made use of The Book of Psalms for Worship as a Lutheran Christian pastor?
Here is a work-in-progress, a chart to use the Psalms in a Lutheran way:

LSB Three Year Psalm Index by Liturgical Date

Liturgical Date
Ps. 122
Advent 1 A
Ps. 80:1-7
Advent 1 B
Ps. 25:1-10
Advent 1 C
Ps. 72:1-7
Advent 2 A
Ps. 85
Advent 2 B
Ps. 66:1-12
Advent 2 C
Ps. 146
Advent 3 A
Ps. 126
Advent 3 B
Ps. 85
Advent 3 C
Ps. 24
Advent 4 A
Ps. 89:1-5 (19-29)
Advent 4 B
Ps. 80:1-7
Advent 4 C
Ps. 149
All Saints’ Day
Ps. 84
Anniversary of a Congregation
Ps. 45:7-17
Ps. 47
Ascension ABC
Ps. 51:1-13 (14-19)
Ash Wednesday ABC
Ps. 29
Baptism of Our Lord ABC
Ps. 119:129-136
Christian Education
Ps. 111
Christmas 1 ABC
Ps. 119:97-104
Christmas 2 ABC
Ps. 98
Christmas Dawn ABC
Ps. 2
Christmas Day ABC
Ps. 110:1-4
Christmas Eve ABC
Ps. 96
Christmas Midnight ABC
Ps. 8
Circumcision and Name of Jesus
Ps. 118:19-29
Confession of St. Peter
Ps. 67
Conversion of St. Paul
Ps. 6
Day of Supplication and Prayer
Ps. 148
Easter 2 ABC
Easter 3 A
Ps. 4
Easter 3 B
Ps. 30
Easter 3 C
Ps. 23
Easter 4 ABC
Ps. 146
Easter 5 A
Ps. 150
Easter 5 B
Ps. 148
Easter 5 C
Ps. 66:8-20
Easter 6 A
Ps. 98
Easter 6 B
Ps. 67
Easter 6 C
Ps. 68:1-10
Easter 7 A
Ps. 1
Easter 7 B
Ps. 133
Easter 7 C
Ps. 16
Easter Day ABC
Ps. 100
Easter Evening/Monday ABC
Ps. 118:15-29
Easter Sunrise ABC
Ps. 2
Easter Tuesday ABC
Ps. 61
Easter Wednesday ABC
Ps. 40:1-11
Epiphany 2 A
Ps. 139:1-10
Epiphany 2 B
Ps. 128
Epiphany 2 C
Ps. 27:1-9 (10-14)
Epiphany 3 A
Ps. 62
Epiphany 3 B
Ps. 19:(1-6) 7-14
Epiphany 3 C
Ps. 15
Epiphany 4 A
Ps. 111
Epiphany 4 B
Ps. 71:1-6 (7-11)
Epiphany 4 C
Ps. 112:1-9
Epiphany 5 A
Ps. 147:1-11
Epiphany 5 B
Ps. 138
Epiphany 5 C
Ps. 119: 1-8
Epiphany 6 A
Ps. 30
Epiphany 6 B
Ps. 1
Epiphany 6 C
Ps. 119:33-40
Epiphany 7 A
Ps. 41
Epiphany 7 B
Ps. 103:1-13
Epiphany 7 C
Ps. 115:(1-8) 9-18
Epiphany 8 A
Ps. 103:1-13
Epiphany 8 B
Ps. 92
Epiphany 8 C
Ps. 72:1-11 (12-15)
Epiphany ABC
Ps. 22
Good Friday ABC
Ps. 31
Good Friday ABC
Ps. 65
Harvest Observance
Ps. 40:1-11
Holy Cross Day
Ps. 54
Holy Innocents
Ps. 36:5-12
Holy Monday ABC
Ps. 16
Holy Saturday ABC
Ps. 116:12-19
Holy Thursday ABC
Ps. 8
Holy Trinity AC
Ps. 29
Holy Trinity B
Ps. 71:1-14
Holy Tuesday ABC
Ps. 70
Holy Wednesday ABC
Ps. 95:1-7a
Last Sunday (29) A
Ps. 93
Last Sunday (29) B
Ps. 46
Last Sunday (29) C
Ps. 32:1-7
Lent 1 A
Ps. 25:1-10
Lent 1 B
Ps. 91:1-13
Lent 1 C
Ps. 121
Lent 2 A
Ps. 22:23-31
Lent 2 B
Ps. 4
 Lent 2 C
Ps. 95:1-9
Lent 3 A
Ps. 19
Lent 3 B
Ps. 85
Lent 3 C
Ps. 142
Lent 4 A
Ps. 107:1-9
Lent 4 B
Ps. 32
Lent 4 C
Ps. 130
Lent 5 A
Ps. 119:9-16
Lent 5 B
Ps. 126
Lent 5 C
Ps. 71:1-8
Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist
Ps. 96
Mission Observance
Ps. 130
National or Local Tragedy
Ps. 85:(1-6) 7-13
Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Ps. 90:1-12
New Year's Eve
Ps. 31:9-16
Passion Sunday ABC
Ps. 118:19-29
Passion Sunday ABC
Ps. 25:1-15
Pentecost Day A
Ps. 139:1-12 (13-16)
Pentecost Day B
Ps. 143
Pentecost Day C
Ps. 113
Pentecost Eve ABC
Ps. 43
Pentecost Evening/Monday ABC
Ps. 27
Pentecost Tuesday ABC
Ps. 115:(1-8) 9-18
Proper 03 A
Ps. 103:1-13
Proper 03 B
Ps. 112:1-9
Proper 03 C
Ps. 4
Proper 04 A
Ps. 81:1-10
Proper 04 B
Ps. 96: 1-9
Proper 04 C
Ps. 119:65-72
Proper 05 A
Ps. 130
Proper 05 B
Ps. 30
Proper 05 C
Ps. 100
Proper 06 A
Ps. 1
Proper 06 B
Ps. 32:1-7
Proper 06 C
Ps. 91:1-10 (11-16)
Proper 07 A
Ps. 124
Proper 07 B
Ps. 3
Proper 07 C
Ps. 119:153-160
Proper 08 A
Ps. 30
Proper 08 B
Ps. 16
Proper 08 C
Ps. 145:1-14
Proper 09 A
Ps. 123
Proper 09 B
Ps. 66:1-7
Proper 09 C
Ps. 65:(1-8) 9-13
Proper 10 A
Ps. 85:(1-7) 8-13
Proper 10 B
Ps. 41
Proper 10 C
Ps. 119:57-64
Proper 11 A
Ps. 23
Proper 11 B
Ps. 27:(1-6) 7-14
Proper 11 C
Ps. 125
Proper 12 B
Ps. 136: 1-9
Proper 12 B
Ps. 138
Proper 12 C
Ps. 136:1-9 (23-26)
Proper 13 A
Ps. 145:10-21
Proper 13 B
Ps. 100
Proper 13 C
Ps. 18:1-6 (7-16)
Proper 14 A
Ps. 34:1-8
Proper 14 B
Ps. 33:12-22
Proper 14 C
Ps. 67
Proper 15 A
Ps. 34:12-22
Proper 15 B
Ps. 119:81-88
Proper 15 C
Ps. 138
Proper 16 A
Ps. 14
Proper 16 B
Ps. 50:1-15
Proper 16 C
Ps. 26
Proper 17 A
Ps. 119:129-136
Proper 17 B
Ps. 131
Proper 17 C
Ps. 32:1-7
Proper 18 A
Ps. 146
Proper 18 B
Ps. 1
Proper 18 C
Ps. 103:1-12
Proper 19 A
Ps. 116:1-9
Proper 19 B
Ps. 119:169-176
Proper 19 C
Ps. 27:1-9
Proper 20 A
Ps. 54
Proper 20 B
Ps. 113
Proper 20 C
Ps. 25:1-10
Proper 21 A
Ps. 104:27-35
Proper 21 B
Ps. 146
Proper 21 C
Ps. 80:7-19
Proper 22 A
Ps. 128
Proper 22 B
Ps. 62
Proper 22 C
Ps. 23
Proper 23 A
Ps. 90:12-17
Proper 23 B
Ps. 111
Proper 23 C
Ps. 96:1-9 (10-13)
Proper 24 A
Ps. 119:9-16
Proper 24 B
Ps. 121
Proper 24 C
Ps. 1
Proper 25 A
Ps. 126
Proper 25 B
Ps. 5
Proper 25 C
Ps. 43
Proper 26 A
Ps. 119: 1-8
Proper 26 B
Ps. 130
Proper 26 C
Ps. 70
Proper 27 A
Ps. 146
Proper 27 B
Ps. 148
Proper 27 C
Ps. 90:1-12
Proper 28 A
Ps. 16
Proper 28 B
Ps. 98
Proper 28 C
Ps. 84
Ps. 46
Reformation Day
Ps. 139:1-12
St. Andrew
Ps. 112
St. Barnabas
Ps. 121
St. Bartholomew
Ps. 133
St. James of Jerusalem .
Ps. 56
St. James the Elder
Ps. 11
St. John
Ps. 127
St. Joseph
Ps. 147:1-11
St. Luke
Ps. 146
St. Mark
Ps. 45:10-17
St. Mary
Ps. 73:23-28
St. Mary Magdalene
Ps. 119:33-40
St. Matthew
Ps. 134
St. Matthias
Ps. 91
St. Michael and All Angels
Ps. 46
St. Peter and St. Paul
Ps. 36:5-12
St. Philip and St. James
Ps. 43
St. Simon and St. Jude
Ps. 119:137-144
St. Stephen
Ps. 136: 1-4
St. Thomas
Ps .71:15-24
St. Timothy
Ps. 71:1-14
St. Titus
Ps. 67
Ps. 2:6-12
Transfiguration A
Ps. 50:1-6
Transfiguration B
Ps. 99
Transfiguration C
Ps. 138

Thank you to our generous friends at Crown and Covenant Publications!

We hope to share more of their Psalter resources with our readers soon.

Here is a newly revised Psalter from Conception Abbey.

A Liturgical Psalter

2010 by Conception Abbey/the Grail; administered by GIA Publications, Inc.

“The Psalms provide a way into that unique chamber of the heart where one stands most free and open before God.” -Abbot Gregory J. Polan, OSB

This important translation—many years in the making—is finally available to musicians, liturgists, and worshipers around the world. It contains the complete Psalter in psalm order in a convenient quality paperback format.

The Revised Grail Psalms received a recognitio from the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments this past spring.

The new translation brings the Grail Psalms in line with contemporary principles of Scripture scholarship, matters of authentic translation, and requirements for appropriate rendering for liturgical use. This translation of the Psalms meets the requirements established in Liturgiam Authenticam, the 2001 Instruction issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments enunciating principles for preparing translations of liturgical texts. This revision of the 1963 Grail Psalms has been prepared by the monks of Conception Abbey under the direction of Abbot Gregory J. Polan, OSB, producing a translation that will play an important part in the liturgy for years to come. (Publisher's website)
This long-awaited revision appears to be more accurate, artistic, and singable than the original 1963 Grail Psalter. Psalm 1 has "Blessed, " a much better choice than "Happy" in so many psalters.  "There is nothing I shall want" (Psalm 23) is not as clear as it could be. One has to know the difference between "wanting" something and being "in want."

The text is meant as a liturgical psalter. I believe it will succeed in that regard, elevating the language of our adoration of the Lord. The translation is essentially literal, and compares favorably to the English Standard Version. There is elegance in this divine poetry!

The Foreword gives Christians ample reason to continue (or begin) singing and praying the Psalms: "they speak of Christ" (x).

We are grateful for this handy portable paperback review copy from GIA. I would love to see the singing version with pointed text.

Liturgical Christians will also benefit from singing the Psalter with the help of Roland Steele, who has prepared the Psalms for congregational and choral use intentionally for the Three-Year Lectionary.

According to his website, purchasers will receive a CD included with Bulletin Inserts and the Congregational Responses. The Psalter CD includes everything for all three Cycles. We were pleased to spend some time looking over and singing through three spiral-bound editions.

Every liturgical date in the Three-Year Series has music provided by Roland Steele. Psalm portions (or the Magnificat in the case of Advent III-A) are pointed for singing with bold parts ready for "whole-verse by whole-verse" alternation. Refrains are given (as are the psalm tones) in four-part harmony. Some remind me of familiar hymn tunes. Others are completely original compositions.

Concerns? No, other than that the prepared texts are those of the Revised Common Lectionary of the ELCA. I would use the refrains in conjunction with the English Standard Version found in Lutheran Service Book.

 I only noted a few typos (Volumes A, B, C: Psalm-Reformation is 46 rather than 45; "Maunday" should be "Maundy").

I find Roland Publishing's Three-Year Psalter Cycle to be affordable, practical, singable, and very usable!

The Psalms are meant to be sung. Start somewhere. These are some more suggestions to get you and your congregation started.

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.