In an age of unprecedented division, when so many people around us experience racism, hatred, deportations, and fear, the church is called into unity and a spirit of Pentecost hospitality, working toward the day of re-creation. On that day everything will be made new, and all will join together around the heavenly throne, singing praises to the heavenly King in a beautiful chorus of many languages: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).
It is common to come into a church and hear music. Singing, on the other hand, is another issue.
I have worked at several kinds of churches, including Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and non-denominational. I’ve been a choir director, worship leader, and organist. I’ve noticed a common thread about singing running through every church: Each has a pastoral musician whom they trust.
It’s been five hundred years since the Protestant Reformation, a good time to remember the new ways of singing the psalms in the sixteenth century that now, however, seem very old. But the psalms are so much older! The oldest psalm, Psalm 90, which we sing as “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” was probably written by Moses.
If you're like most choir directors, you occasionally have problems filling your choir's repertoire for Easter. Perhaps you've noticed the sameness and even shallowness of some Easter hymns and anthems and have longed Jsii; for music similar to Christmas carols—music which is simple and appealing and which can readily involve large numbers of people.
Songs of Thankfulness and Praise
Christopher Wordsworth, the author of this text, may not be as well known today as his famous uncle, William. But during his lifetime (1807-85) Christopher distinguished himself as a scholar, professor, pastor, and eventually a bishop in the church of England.
Bishop Wordsworth included this hymn in his Holy Year: or Hymns for Sundays, Holidays, and Other Occasions Throughout the Year, with the following heading:
In an attempt to answer that question we asked representatives of various denominations to sketch the history and current practices of psalm singing in their churches. The denominational material presented below is summarized or quoted from Robert Copeland (PCNA), Harry Boonstra (CRC), Norman Kansfield (RCA), Hugh McKeller (PCC), Arlo Duba (PCUSA), and John Frame (OPC and PCA).
Easter: This Joyful Eastertide
While most of us know many Christmas carols, we may be less familiar with carols for other times of the year. One of the finest Easter carols is "This Joyful Eastertide." The tune, which originated in a seventeenth-century Dutch love song, came into church use in Joachim Oudaen's David's Psalmen (1685) as the melody for "Hoe Grootde Vreuchten Zijn" ("How Great the Fruits Are")—hence, the tune title VRUCHTEN.