Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Living and Singing in the Melodious Forest: Welcome to the World of Psalter!

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The metrical version of the Psalms should be read or sung through at least once in the year. It is truly an admirable translation from the Hebrew, and is frequently more correct than the prose version. 
--Robert Murray M'Cheyne from "Direction for M' Cheyne's daily Bible reading calender."

As the sun shines in through the window gently, so does the tender melody of metrical Psalter enter into our soul. When the tuneful Words of God start to dwell in our hearts and minds, our spiritual eyes will be gradually opened to see that the creation world itself is His melodious artwork as well.

Psalm 104: 10-13 (Scottish Metrical Psalter, 1650) 
10  He to the valleys sends the springs, which run among the hills: 
 11  They to all beasts of field give drink,wild asses drink their fills. 
 12  By them the fowls of heav'n shall have their habitation, Which do among the branches sing with delectation. 
 13  He from his chambers watereth the hills, when they are dry'd:     With fruit and increase of thy works; the earth is satisfied.

Isn't it wonderful to know that our God is a creator of holy rhythms and melodies? The sound of waves, winds and leaves....they are all joyfully praising Him.

24 How manifold, Lord, are thy works! in wisdom wonderful. Thou ev'ry one of them hast made; earth's of thy riches full.

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The world of metrical Psalter is a world of wonder and awe. Once you step in this divine forest, you will understand what I mean. This is the forest where pilgrim saints over the centuries have found refuge and comfort. Along the way, pilgrims would find springs and celestial lakes which reflect His beauty. When distressed, he will sing with King David;

Psalm 61:2-4 (Scottish Metrical Psalter,1650, Tune: Land of Rest) 
2b What time my heart is overwhelmed, and in perplexity; Do thou me lead unto the Rock that higher is than I. 
   3  For thou hast for my refuge been a shelter by thy pow'r; And for defense against my foes; thou hast been a strong tow'r. 
   4  Within thy tabernacle I; for ever will abide; And under covert of thy wings with confidence me hide.

At the hour of bereavement, he would raise his tearful eyes and sing with living hope that powerful Messianic portion about which Peter described as "the resurrection of Christ" (Acts 2:31).

Psalm 16:8-11 (The Sing Psalms, 2003version, Tune: Golden Hill) 
8. Before me constantly, I set the Lord alone. Because he is at my right hand I'll not be overthrown 
 9. Therefore my heart is glad; my tongue with joy will sing. My body too will rest secure in hope unwavering. 
 10. For you will not allow my soul in death to stay, Nor will you leave your Holy One to see the tomb's decay 
 11. You have made known to me the path of life divine. Bliss shall I know at your right hand; joy from your face will shine.

One visitor to Reformation Geneva described his experience with congregational Psalm singing in this way: 
"[When the congregation is assembled,] each one draws from his pocket a small book which contains the psalms with notes, and out of full hearts, in the native speech, the congregation sings before and after the sermon. Every one testifies to me how great the consolation and edification is derived from this custom." (M. Patrick, Story of the Church's Song, 92, quoted in Michael LeFebvre, Singing the Songs of Jesus; Revisiting the Psalms, chp.1. The Psalms: Book or Hymnal-and does it matter?)


Recently, I purchased a hardcover Psalter and I just love it. 

The Psalms of David in Metre: Metrical Psalms by Scottish Psalter 1650

This petit and lovely Psalm book is always with me and brings such calmness and comfort to my soul. There are several other versions so you can check them out and see which version is good for you. 


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