For family worship, we have found a good Psalter — the Anglo-Genevan Psalter produced by the Canadian Reformed Church. We are slowly learning some of the Psalms in there. We also enjoy singing along to the many Psalms that Jamie Soles has set to music.
I do not subscribe to what is called exclusive Psalmody. However, the evangelical church has lost a great treasure in largely neglecting the Psalms in worship. If we were to sing these regularly, this would significantly re-shape our conception of ourselves as individual Christians and as the people of God. The Psalms are the Spirit’s inspired lesson book in prayer and worship, and yet their language and tone often sounds foreign and unbecoming to us. This is a sign that we need to renew our lessons. For example, the Psalms make bold appeals to God far more often than we tend to do in worship, and using a degree of confidence that would embarrass us. David did not know New Calvinism’s dictum that we should only pray for mercy and not justice. He holds God’s law in surprisingly high regard. And he recognizes the Spirit’s work in infants, something we should be teaching our children to sing and confess.
James Jordan has proposed “Jordan’s Laws of Psalmody,” and I think there is wisdom in them. Paraphrasing Jordan, they are as follows:
- The Law of Accurate Psalmody — Use God’s word as it is written. Metrical Psalms are only a paraphrase of the inspired text; if you sing them, you should read a good translation before you sing. Or consider chanting an accurate translation outright.
- The Law of Complete Psalmody — The Psalms are complete units of thought, and you should sing or read an entire Psalm rather than a selection of verses.
- The Law of Comprehensive Psalmody — Our repertoire and diet should include all 150 Psalms. To avoid the uncomfortable portions of the Psalter is to refuse to grow in everything the Spirit would teach us.
- The Law of Musical Psalmody — Sing the Psalms and sing them with musical instruments. (I would add: sing them at a lively tempo.)
- The Law of Preponderant Psalmody — We should sing more Psalms than hymns, especially when we have lost so much ground in acquiring the Spirit’s tastes.
He also goes on to suggest “Jordan’s Law of Hymnody” — to the degree that we do not sing Psalms, we should pursue songs that have the taste and aroma of the Psalms. Scripture gives us many examples of this outside of the Psalter — for example, Mary’s song in Luke 1.