The Book of Praise: Anglo-Genevan Psalter has an important function within the worship services of the Canadian Reformed Churches. The word “praise” in the. 10 Jun The Genevan Psalter is the most important source of metrical psalmody in the continental Reformed tradition. For millennia the biblical psalter has been the chief liturgical book of God’s people of the old and new covenants. The Psalms are unique in that they.
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At least most hymnals nowadays are attributing the text to the opening verses of Psalm 90, not just to Isaac Watts.
Continue Reading When our forefathers arrived in Canada in the early s, they noticed the absence of an English Psalter that used the familiar Genevan melodies.
It contained at least 12 Genevan tunes, assigning them to at least 62 psalms, but not necessarily to the ones with which they were associated at Geneva. Thus the congregation might sing Psalm 95 or as an opening psalm of praise where Roman Catholics or more recently Anglicans might sing the Gloria in Excelsis. Psalms, Gesange Kaapstad, Who has not despaired of both present and future?
Our congregations need to learn once again to sing Psalms 88 andamong many others. As each book of the Bible is like a garden bearing its own unique fruit, the Psalms bear all the fruit found in the other books.
In the Genevan Psalms I felt that I had discovered a huge and largely untapped source of great riches. Pages have also been devoted to bibliographic sourcesincluding psalters and books about the Psalter, an annotated discographyinternet links and videos ; and to a blog calling attention to updates to this site and to other psalm-related material elsewhere.
These psalms were not sung as plainchant; rather the texts were reworked into poetic form to be sung in the language of the people set to fresh tunes composed explicitly for this purpose by Matthias Greiter c. They had never sung the psalms systematically, but with the revival in psalmody happening everywhere, they turned to their Calvinist roots, and although it was brand new to them, made a decision to claim the Genevan Psalter for their worship.
The result is a remarkably disciplined set of melodies: In them we hear expressions of joy and lament, cries for revenge against enemies, confession of sin, acknowledgement of utter dependence on God, recitations of his mighty acts in history, and finally songs of praise and adoration.
But therein lay the great limitation of the English and Scottish tradition: I may still come up with my own tune at some point. The psalm tables have long since ceased to function. So regular were the metres for these psalters that the edition of the Scottish Psalter has split pages, enabling worshippers to mix and match tunes and texts easily.
How and where does the Reformed tradition of psalmody come to expression today, in the 21st century, both in North America and beyond?
All but one of these six metrical psalms could easily be matched to another tune in common metre double CMD or long metre double LMD. At about the same time I began attending an Anglican church which followed a similar pattern for each Sunday of the church calendar, following the three-year ecumenical lectionary.
The word “praise” in the title reminds us of the exhortation in the letter to the Hebrews: The genius of that psaler is one of fewer and simpler metrical structures, just a few, really, like Short, Long, and especially Common Meters.
Finally in a complete psalter was issued with rhymed versions of all psalms. Coming fresh to the Genevan tradition means that I am working without the benefit and the burden alike of having grown up hearing them sung a certain way.
In so doing, I departed to psaltter extent from the traditional rhyming schemes and, in some cases, from rhyme itself. Of course, the texts had to accommodate both meter and rhyme. This practice gradually disappeared with the exception of some very conservative churches who still sing them this way today.
To this day, many people in England and Scotland, and their descendents in Canada as well, are familiar with hymnals that are books of texts only. Regarding the tunes, with the recovery of the original rhythms, it is possible to sing them in the musically invigorating way they were first sung over years ago. In my head I heard these tunes in their Renaissance context, where their similarity to the works of Thomas Tallis, William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons seemed evident.
The intent was for each psalm to have its own tune, also based on the character of the psalm. The cultural dynamics are very different now than they were in the 16th century. He wondered at the time about imposing music from the European Renaissance on such a different culture in Indonesia, but after witnessing their singing, he commented “In singing Genevan Psalm 42 psaletr their own language, they had become more than they were.
However, the alternation of masculine and feminine psaltwr in the tune does not quite match this scheme: As a woman, I can hardly imagine the thrill of congregational singing in resonant spaces that released the voice of all the people in worship. Inat an international consultation on Reformed worship held in Geneva, Switzerland, the delegate from the Pacific Islands learned for the first time that psalmody was an important part of the Reformed heritage.
At least since the Enlightenment many Christians have claimed to find gendvan psalms something of an embarrassment.
A Reformed Approach to Psalmody: The Legacy of the Genevan Psalter
Athanasius wrote of the Psalms that they are a kind of compendium of the whole of scripture. I could not bring myself to accept this implied inferiority of the Psalter. This too prescribed a psalm to be said or sung between the Old Testament and epistle readings.
The tunes are not as anonymous as chant, but they are humble, disciplined, and distinct. The Book of Praise: Psalms 23, 29, 51, 95 and are set to original melodies composed especially for these texts.
Introduction to the Genevan Psalter
One result is that most of the singing in Calvinist churches is done in unison. Shall my foes have the victory?
Permission was granted psalher post these for download, and later, to publish a few CD sets. These examples speak of a tradition tied to a unified body of tunes still identified with the psalms for which they were composed. That combination of text and tune was suggested by Austin Lovelace.