Psalmody Study Page
I. Psalmody Overview & Assorted Resources
- Three ways to sing the psalms. This site gives a helpful explanation of the three ways to sing the Psalms: metrical singing, plainsong/plainchant, and Anglican chant. In addition, the author provides links and helpful reviews for many print versions of the Psalter.
- thepsalmssung.org. The Psalms of David – sung a cappella.
- An Index to Anglican Chants. This website hosts an ongoing project to gather as many Anglican chants as possible, complete with MIDI recordings of most chant tones.
II. Coverdale Psalter (Book of Common Prayer)
Miles Coverdale published the first complete English translation of the Scriptures in 1535, and his work—along with William Tyndale's work—became the basis for the Great Bible (1539). The Great Bible was the most important English translation until the Authorized Version (1611). Coverdale's Psalter is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful English translations of the Psalter and is still used in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer (1662 version).
- The Coverdale Psalter (with updated language) is available for download here (PDF).
- St. Dunstan’s Plainsong Psalter (Coverdale Psalter pointed for plainsong with Gregorian chant tones included) is available for purchase here.
- The complete Coverdale Psalter has also been chanted (in the style of Anglican chant) and recorded by various choirs throughout England. The 10-disc set is available for purchase here, but you can also listen for free on psalmsandcanticles.wordpress.com (you will need a Spotify account).
III. 1650 Scottish Metrical Psalter
The 1650 Scottish Psalter is the product of many years of translation, editing, and fine-tuning that started with the work of Francis Rouse, who submitted his metrical Psalter to the Westminster Assembly. The Assembly modified his work and published it’s own prayer book. Scottish delegates to the Assembly returned home with this prayer book and made further modifications, and the final product is the 1650 Scottish Psalter.
- The 1650 Psalter (PDF) can be downloaded here.
- 1650psalter.com provides history and resources related to the 1650 Psalter.
- “The Psalms of David in Metre” has the complete 1650 Psalter with MIDI files of various tunes.
- This website gives the text of each psalm with brief commentary.
- A compiled list of available recordings can be found here. Free recordings (of varying quality) can be found at psalm-singing.org, here, and at www.thepsalmssung.org.
- projectpsalms.com gives information about a project currently underway that will make professional recordings available for purchase.
- Recordings of many Psalms (sung by an Irish church choir) can be purchased as a set from Still Water Revival Books. NOTE: Some of these recordings are available for free at www.thepsalmssung.org.
- Sing-the-psalms.webs.com has recordings of the complete Psalter available for sale (“Sing Psalms to God”). Each CD set comes with an instructional disc that teaches the various vocal parts.
IV. Genevan Psalter
Before the Reformation, the Psalms were sung in Latin by trained choirs. In order to help laymen sing the Psalms, John Calvin (and a number of others) began composing a French metrical Psalter in 1539 for use in worship by the churches of Strasburg and later Geneva, Switzerland. The first complete Genevan Psalter was published in 1562. The Genevan Psalter has been associated with the churches of the Reformation ever since. Much more background and history can be found here.
- www.genevanpsalter.com has free recordings of the complete Genevan Psalter, and additional aids/information are provided for many Psalms.
- genevanpsalter.redeemer.ca provides texts (some versifications have been modified) for the complete Psalter and sheet music for about half of the Psalms.
- www.bookofpraise.ca is the Canadian Reformed Church’s project to update and revise the Anglo-Genevan Psalter.
V. King James/Authorized Version Psalter
- The Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood is a one-stop shop for chanting the KJV Psalter. They have made available for purchase their Prayer Book, and they have free audio recordings available on their website.
- The Scottish Prose Psalter (1906) [PDF] includes the full Psalter and many canticles pointed for chanting. It was originally a split-leaf book but has been digitized with all the tunes at the end.
- The Choral Psalter was compiled in 1869 at the height of the choral music revival in England. Originally a split-leaf Psalter, this digitized version (9th edition, 1890) uses the Authorized Version pointed text with a tune for each Psalm.
VI. New King James Version Psalter
The NKJV Psalter has been pointed for chanting and is available for sale here.
VII. ESV Psalters
- Reading the Psalms with Luther is based on the ESV translation and provides a reading schedule with Luther’s introduction to each Psalm.
- The Concordia Psalter includes the entire ESV Psalter pointed for chanting with two thematically appropriate chant tone options accompanying each Psalm.
VIII. Modern Metrical Psalters
Crown and Covenant
Crown and Covenant Publications is the publishing arm of the RPCNA and has published some of the more popular metrical psalters of our time.
- The Book of Psalms for Singing (1973) has recently been one of the standard metrical English Psalters.
- The Book of Psalms for Singing is available for viewing on Google Books.
- Jason Coghill’s album “Psalms in Harmony” includes recordings of 31 Psalms from The Book of Psalms for Singing. The album is available for purchase or download (iTunes and Amazon). With a Spotify account you can listen for free at psalmsandcanticles.wordpress.com.
- Many free recordings from The Book of Psalms for Singing are available at www.thepsalmssung.org.
- The Book of Psalms for Worship (2010) is a recent overhaul of The Book of Psalms for Singing. This new Psalter retains many strengths of the older one and makes improvements in wording, versification, and tune selection. The most notable advantage of this Psalter is the abundance of resources that are available for the “musically challenged.”
- Psalter.org contains recordings of many tunes used in Crown and Covenant Psalters.
- Many free recordings from The Book of Psalms for Worship are available at www.thepsalmssung.org. Some of the recordings on this site are selections from the albums being released by Crown and Covenant (see below).
- Helpful apps (for iPhone and Android) are available for purchase. The apps contain all the lyrics, four-part musical scores (like in a hymnal), and have MIDI recordings of almost every tune.
- A cappella recordings of each Psalm are being released in thematic albums for sale (CD or mp3) at Crown and Covenant’s website.
Christian Reformed Church
- The Christian Reformed Church Psalter Hymnal (1959) is available for purchase on Amazon.
- Dordt College has produced a six-CD set of complete recordings from this Psalter.
IX. Assorted Musical Resources
- There are a number of contemporary musical groups that have produced recordings of various Psalms.
- In addition to the many recordings that are available online, there are a number of resources for musicians who want to sing and/or play the Psalms themselves.
X. Assorted Books/Articles
- Saint Athanasius (ca. 297-373) has a wonderful discussion on interpreting the Psalms (“The Letter of Athanasius, Our Holy Father, Archbishop of Alexandria, To Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms”).
- Rich Lusk has audio from a two-part lecture entitled “Prelude to the Psalter” available on the TPC Liturgy & Sacraments Study Page.
- Eugene Peterson has written several devotional books on the Psalms. His book Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer gives a helpful overview of how the Psalms help us pray. A Long Obedience in the Same Directionlooks at how the Psalms of Ascent (120-134) contribute to our discipleship as Christians.
- N.T. Wright has a forthcoming book on the Psalms entitled The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential.
- Video of Wright’s presentation on the Psalms is available here.
- James Jordan has been working to help recover good use of the Psalms.
- Terry Johnson is a PCA pastor who has championed psalmody for decades and was instrumental in developing the Trinity Psalter.
- "Why Sing the Psalms" is a brief overview of the history and rationale for Psalm singing.
- “The History of Psalm Singing in the Christian Church” is a lengthy lecture delivered at a symposium on Reformed worship.
- “Why We Must Sing the Psalms” provides rationale for Psalm singing with background on the Trinity Psalter.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer's booklet "Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible" provides an excellent overview and introduction to the Psalms and their importance for prayer.
- Louis Fitzgerald Benson, "John Calvin and the Psalmody of the Reformed Churches", a series of lectures given at Princeton in 1907, provides a helpful overview of the emphasis placed upon Psalm singing from the earliest days of the Reformed tradition.