Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Singing the Psalms

One of my complaints with the Lutheran Service Book is that the background materials for the services aren't in the main, pew edition, but are now only in the supplementary books. I'm talking about the propers for the day, Collects, etc.

And here's a reason for dragging out your worn copy of Lutheran Worship: the Psalm tones.

The Psalms are meant for singing. Not that there's anything "wrong" with reading them, or just saying them out loud, but I encourage everyone to realize the joy found in singing them. And that's what the Psalm tones are for.

We are not used to unrhymed, non-rhythmic music in our culture. The Psalms -- at least in English -- are that. The Psalm tones provide the means of singing the Psalms, and while the tones can sound odd at first, the sound and rhythm of the singing grows on you.

I encourage mastering one tone at first -- there are several -- and using that, and then branching out. As I annoyingly bring up from time to time, I use the AV for my Bible, and find that most (not all, by any means) Psalm verses break conveniently for the tone switch at either the colon or semi-colon. (I suspect I'm using some wrong musical terms; I beg forgiveness and correction from those more musically aware than myself).

But however rusty your beginnings are, sing the Psalms. It's truly God's hymnal, and while I certainly don't believe in an exclusive Psalmnody, it is our loss if we miss the joys found there.

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