New Psalter: Psalms for the Church

New PsalterI was delighted to receive a copy of the New Psalter last week courtesy of Dan Kreider and Grace Music. It’s a collection of musical settings of the Psalms with at least one setting for every Psalm (including one for every section of Psalm 119). It comes in cloth bound and spiral bound versions as well as an online version (which presumably you can use under your CCLI licence).

My first impression on opening the parcel was that this is a thing of beauty – stitched and bound in red cloth with silver writing. It’s a delight to hold it and read it. It’s not the most important thing, perhaps, but I appreciate these things, especially in a book I’ll use on a regular basis. It’s a mystery to me how they can sell this for just $13.

The New Psalter is a great mix of old and new settings, ranging from strict metrical settings to freer settings – or, to put it another way, from the Scottish Psalter to the Gettys. There’s also a mix of new and familiar tunes – tunes most congregations will already know. Even the new tunes are mostly hymns with a regular metre that people should be able to pick up quickly.

Over the past few years we’ve included a Psalm (or more often a portion of the Psalm) in our Sunday gathering in some form. That might be in the call to worship or to preface our corporate confession. The New Psalter significantly expands those options, enabling congregations to sing the set Psalm each week. And what I love most about the New Psalter is that it offers a genuinely and readily sing-able version of every Psalm. It does deliver on the promise implicit in the subtitle: “Psalms for the Church”. In many cases the tune will already be familiar to a congregation.

I’ve also been using it in my personal devotions. I usually read a Psalm each morning and evening, and over the past few days I’ve been using the New Psalter to mix this up by singing some of them.

The spiral bound version has guitar chords (for those of us used to playing from lead sheets), though not the cloth bound version. The online version also offers the option of a PDF with guitar chords.

The good news is that Grace Music recently has started shipping to the UK (though it’s not cheap for small orders).

Finally, one bit of trivia. Every Psalm has at least one setting. Some have two or three, and few have more. But which Psalm do you think has the largest number of settings in this collection? Answer: Psalms 91 – with seven separate versions.

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