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Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The Law of Musical Psalmody — Sing the Psalms and sing them with musical instruments. (I would add: sing them at a lively tempo.)
  5. 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.

Written by Scott Moonen

March 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm


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Here’s a Genevan Psalm (Psalm 2) to belt out on your trip to the polling place. Rejoice always!


Why do the heathen nations vainly rage?
What prideful schemes are they in vain devising?
The kings of earth and rulers all engage
In evil plots, and in their sin contriving,
They take their stand against our God’s Messiah;
They claim they will not keep His binding chains.
The one enthroned in highest heaven, higher,
Mocks them to scorn, on them derision rains.

He speaks to them in righteous, holy wrath;
God vexes them and shows His great displeasure.
“Yet have I set My King upon the path
That upward winds to Zion, My own treasure.”
“‘You are My Son, today You are begotten,’
—I will declare what God has said to Me—
‘And not one tribe will ever be forgotten.
You will receive the world, just ask of Me.'”

“‘The nations come; You are the only Heir,
The ends of earth will be Your own possession
And broken with a rod of iron there,
Rebellious pottery comes to destruction.'”
Now serve the LORD, with fear and gladness trembling,
And therefore, O ye kings, seek wisdom here.
How blessed are those who trust without dissembling,
Who kiss the Son and bow in reverent fear.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 3, 2012 at 7:38 am


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We’ve found some fantastic Bible music for kids (and adults): the music of Jamie Soles. Jamie has a knack for conveying the essence of Biblical faith, righteousness, and world view in a memorable way. So far I’ve picked up the following albums:

  • Up From Here. This is my favorite so far, although I have yet to really become familiar with the other albums. There’s a lot of great biblical worldview and storyline in here, oriented around the theme of the many exoduses in the Bible. Jamie’s portrayal of the creation mandate is wonderfully poetic, and we enjoy singing along to the apostles’ creed. Plus, the Mennonite joke cracks me up every time.
  • Giants and Wanderers. This is Jamie’s latest album, delving into the histories of some lesser known Bible characters, both savory and unsavory.
  • Fun and Prophets. Jamie tells the stories of many of God’s prophets, the men who speak God’s blessings and curses into being, who are invited into the counsel of God.
  • Weight of Glory. Another collection of stories retold, treasures old and new (Matt. 13:52).
  • Songs From the 40s/50s/60s. Psalms, that is — cries to God for help and deliverance.
  • Memorials. Jamie recounts many of the things that God calls memorials — altars, offerings, even the Lord’s Supper, which is a memorial to God as much as it is a reminder to us.

Written by Scott Moonen

July 30, 2012 at 8:18 pm


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Today is Ascension Day, the day Jesus ascended to his seat at the right hand of the Father. Psalm 24 describes Jesus’s ascension in victory and our ascension in worship:

The LORD is King of earth’s domain,
The world and all that dwell therein.
Rejoice, O Zion’s sons and daughters,
For it stands firm by His decrees;
He founded it upon the seas,
Established it upon the waters.

Who shall ascend the hill of God,
Stand in His holy place, and laud
The LORD, who lives and reigns forever?
He who withstands the wicked’s lure,
Who has clean hands, whose heart is pure,
Who keeps his oaths and does not waver.

Rich blessings shall be his reward,
And vindication from the LORD,
Who is the Rock of his salvation.
Such are the men who seek the face
Of Jacob’s God, so rich in grace.
From Him is all their expectation.

Lift up your heads, you arch and gate;
O ancient doors, rise up and wait;
Let Him come in, the King of glory.
Who is that King of glorious fame?
The LORD Almighty is His Name,
He who in battle goes before me.

Lift up your heads, you arch and gate;
O ancient doors, rise up and wait;
Let Him come in, the King of glory.
Who is that King, in glory great?
The LORD of hosts, Him we await.
The LORD, He is the King of glory!

This is from an Anglo-Genevan Psalter. You can hear Michael Owens sing the tune, although I prefer a more lively tempo. There is a great rendition in French at David Koyzis’s Genevan Psalter blog. The versification above is by Wolter van der Kamp.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 17, 2012 at 5:45 am


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I wrote the following material for a hymn and Psalm sing.


The Psalms were Israel’s hymnal. Little is said about the use of music in corporate worship before the time of David; the emphasis was on offerings and sacrifices, Sabbaths and festivals. The coming of the king ushered in a liturgical revolution. Under the guidance of the Spirit, David reorganized the Levites and featured music prominently in worship. Even today, we speak of offering a sacrifice of praise, and the Psalms are as much a treasure to Jesus’s church today as they were to Israel.

Abraham Kuyper once said that “there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'” And this is true. The Psalms confess this truth over every area of our lives; to sing them is to see and confess and invite Jesus’s involvement in our whole life. He is lord of our sorrows and joys, trials and triumph, deaths and resurrection. He is lord of our possessions and bodies, lord of our children, lord of nations and kings and of history itself. It is good, very good, to belong to him.

We’ve chosen some Psalms from the Genevan psalter, which was compiled by Calvin with the help of others. This French Psalter was first used by the persecuted Huguenots, but its lively tunes have been put to use in many languages.

Psalm 2

Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm, referring to Jesus. Jesus is the anointed one (Messiah, Christ), the son, the stone uncut by human hands (Daniel 2) who dashes the nations into pieces and whose kingdom shall never be destroyed. Jesus still calls his church to disciple the nations; we command kings, presidents, governors, representatives and magistrates to bow before him and serve him.

Speaking of this Psalm, Calvin says that “All who do not submit themselves to the authority of Christ make war against God. . . . He who shows himself a loving shepherd to his gentle sheep, must treat the wild beasts with a degree of severity either to convert them from their cruelty, or effectually to restrain it.”

Everyone will experience some kind of death. Jesus himself suffered death for our salvation and life. He requires his people to pass through the life-giving death of confession, repentance and submission. Those who refuse to do so will suffer the never-ending death of his wrath.

Psalm 24

Psalm 24 is another Messianic Psalm, and its theme is ascension. Our worship is an ascension: just as the pleasing aroma of offerings ascended into God’s presence, we ascend into God’s presence as we draw near to worship him. He is actually enthroned on our praises.

But Jesus himself ascended. He is our ascension offering, bringing us forgiveness and cleansing and drawing us into his presence. This Psalm particularly highlights his ascension in victory: he is the one who defeated all his enemies, even sin and death, and entered the gates in victory to be enthroned at his Father’s right hand. Fundamentally, it is only in him and his victory that we ourselves can ascend.

Psalm 68

Psalm 68 has been called the marching song of the French reformation, sung by the persecuted Huguenots. Their singing this Psalm so outraged and frightened the Catholics that its singing in public, and eventually its whistling, was outlawed. This Psalm celebrates God’s might and power, which he uses to provide for his church, convert many of his enemies, and destroy those enemies who will not repent.

David uses a wealth of biblical symbolism and imagery here. Some examples to consider are the use of rain and water as a picture of salvation and life; the mountain and sky as symbols of God’s heavenly throne, and of approaching God in worship; rival mountains as symbols of false worship; and wild bulls as rebellious leaders.

Psalm 71

Psalm 71 may be a continuation of Psalm 70. David’s emphasis here is on his trust and dependence on God in every season of life, in every circumstance. Though he is old and beset by enemies, he recalls God’s unfailing faithfulness to him even before his birth, and he calls on God to keep his promises to defend and restore him. Because of his confidence in God, he is full of joy and praise in the midst of his trials.

This is the Christian vision of the good life, the life that we desire for our children: to have never known a time when Jesus was not near, and to be so deeply rooted in him that no trial can touch our joy.

Psalm 73

Psalm 73 dramatizes our struggles with doubt and envy. When the wicked prosper and God’s people suffer, is it really worth it to remain loyal and faithful to Jesus?

It is! The crucial turning point comes when the psalmist draws near to God in worship — he remembers that God is our greatest satisfaction, and he is always near to us, sustaining us through suffering. He will certainly vindicate and glorify us, but the wicked will suffer eternal ruin.

The essense of faith is patience, patience over years and decades to trust and obey the one who always keeps his promises.

Written by Scott Moonen

December 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Hymns, Music

Alan Hovhaness’s Prayer of St. Gregory

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Written by Scott Moonen

May 11, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Music

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Salvation Army Band

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Truth adorned with more than just words.

Written by Scott Moonen

September 18, 2007 at 7:01 am