“Singing Psalms” is a fresh resource for use within worship in the Church of Ireland. It includes all the psalms contained within the Revised Common Lectionary. The Response in each case is a verse (or part of a verse) chosen from within the psalm of the day, sung in Unison and interspersed with pairs of verses set to simple chant – basically, a note which is held until the end of each line, when it changes to another note (hence slightly simpler than Anglican chant). The chant may be sung by Cantor, choir, or indeed Congregation, with everyone joining in the Response. Only the musicians need the music: the congregation follows the text of the Psalter in the book of Common Prayer.
The composers are Alison Cadden & Revd Dr Peter Thompson, both members of the Liturgical Advisory Committee. Alison is a music teacher in Portadown, while Peter is rector of St Michael’s, Castlecaulfield. Their hope is that the passion expressed in the poetry of the Psalms will be enhanced by the music in Singing Psalms.
Pricing and ordering
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Examples of singing psalms
Review of Singing Psalms which appeared in the Church of Ireland Gazette on Friday 21st January 2011
SINGING PSALMS: RESPONSORIAL PSALMS SET TO SIMPLE CHANT – YEAR AAuthors: Alison Cadden and Peter Thompson Publisher: Columba Press; 103pp
THIS BOOK, providing an easy and attractive way of singing the Psalms, as prescribed in the Lectionary for the Principal Service on Sundays and Holy Days in Year A, completes a three–year programme for each of the liturgical years A, B and C (years B and C have not previously been reviewed in these pages).
There can be no more important resource put at our disposal, because Christian worship, emerging from the worship of judaism, has its roots and foundation in singing the Psalms.In the Church of Ireland, we have been reared and nurtured by singing Psalms to Anglican chant which, when well done, can be beautiful and reflective.
Sadly, many congregations nowadays find such chanting difficult, even irrelevant, with the result that the singing of the Psalms in this traditional way tends to be avoided altogether and the Psalm is often replaced by a hymn which isn’t always relevant to the mood of the appointed Psalm.
In its heartfelt desire to preserve the importance of psalmody in our liturgical worship, the Liturgical Advisory Committee has rightly used the talents and expertise of two of its members who are gifted musicians, Alison Cadden and Peter Thompson, by commissioning them to provide a fairly easy and attractive way of singing the appointed Psalms in a responsorial manner.
Mr Thompson had already produced some settings of this kind for use in his own parish of Donaghmore (Armagh), based on simplified Anglican chanting, with the minimum amount of pointing, which are very easy to (pick up’ and sing with conviction. These settings also have the advantage of providing an attractive congregational refrain.
Mrs Cadden follows a similar pattern, but her way of indicating the precise word where a note changes in the chant is by underlining the actual word itself.
Nothing could be simpler and, again, the congregational response is very singable and ‘catchy’.The really important feature of these settings of the Psalms is that they are not hymn–like paraphrases, but are actually preserving the exact wording from the current Prayer Book Psalter and the mood of each Psalm is enhanced at intervals by its very singable responsorial refrain.
The settings also have the capacity of ensuring that the Psalms should be sung rather than said. After all, the Psalms were always sung from the earliest days of judaism. The Oxford Dictionary defines psalmody as )the arrangement of Psalms for singingx and the Latin word psalterium refers to the stringed instruments in both jewish and early Christian worship to accompany the singing of psalms.
Mr Thompson and Mrs Cadden have provided a real service to the Church of Ireland with this new form of singing the Psalms. Hopefully, the settings will encourage congregations to sing them regularly and persevere in growing accustomed to their genre.
Congregations tend to “switch off” on hearing a new hymn tune for the first time and forget that some of the most popular hymns were all new and unfamiliar to start with.
Repetition is often the key to becoming acclimatised to new forms of music and the more these Psalms are used in worship, the more meaningful and acceptable they will become. Let’s use them and grow to enjoy them.