The Attraction of the Psalms – W. R. Godfrey

Learning-love-psalms-Godfrey-2017From the first chapter of his new book Learning to Love the Psalms (Reformation Trust, 2017), W. Robert Godfrey gives us four (4) points about “The Attraction of the Psalms”:

Several features of the Psalms have been especially attractive to me. The first is the beauty of the language and the poetic expression of the great truths of the faith. Consider the simple words, ‘The LORD is my shepherd’ (Ps.23:1. How much comfort they have brought to many, many souls in distress.

…The second attraction is the discovery that the more you dig into the Psalter, the more you discover. Like all great poetry, the Psalms are like a mine with ever new depths to reach and ever more gold to find. They reward abundantly whatever effort we make to know them better.

Third, there are psalms for all occasions. The Psalms … mark all the important spiritual moments and emotions in the lives of the people of God. As John Calvin said, ‘I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all Parts of the Soul:” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.’ The Psalms teach us how to express our emotions to God in all the circumstances of our lives.

Fourth, the Psalms are full of Christ. They not only explicitly prophesy the coming of Christ…, but the message of the Psalms always pulls the soul to Christ and His great saving work. As was said in the ancient church, ‘Always a psalm in the mouth, always Christ in the heart.’ …The Psalms intensify our fellowship with Christ [pp.3-4].

*Note: This book is available for review in the Standard Bearer if you are interested, as I received a review copy from Ligonier last week.

If you wish to hear some beautiful Psalm music from the Psalter used by the PRC (as well as some other psalmody traditions, such as the Scottish Psalter), visit the YouTube channel of the PR Psalm Choir, directed by Mr. Josh Hoekstra (a sample video is provided below).

And don’t forget that TONIGHT is the second of the Psalm Choir concerts in the Grand Rapids, MI area – at First PRC in GR, beginning at 8:15 p.m.

The Uniqueness of the Psalms – Dr. Robert Godfrey

The book of Psalms remains an important object of study on the part of Christians and the Christian church. Every year new books about and commentaries on the Psalms appear. This year is no exception. No doubt with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, books will appear relating the two, since the Reformation was also a return to this OT songbook for the church.

Reformation Trust has recently published a new book on the Psalms, Learning to Love the Psalms (March, 2017; 263 pp.). It is written by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, president of Westminster Seminary (Escondido, CA) and professor of church history there.

The publisher provides this summary of the title:

The Psalms are undeniably beautiful. They are also difficult, and readers often come away convinced that tremendous riches remain just beyond their grasp. In this book, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey invites us to journey with him towards a greater understanding and love for these sacred verses. The timeless elegance of the Psalms, their depth of expression, and testimony to the greatness of God have enchanted and edified God’s people for centuries. Learning to Love the Psalms is intended to help today’s Christians share in that delight.

In connection with this new book, Ligonier posted a brief video with Godfrey describing the richness of the Psalms (dated April 11, 2017). You may watch it here:

This book has been added to the PRC Seminary’s collection of books on the Psalms. It may be a title you wish to add to your personal or family library as well.

Source: The Uniqueness of the Psalms

Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee – Martin Luther

quote-i-have-no-use-for-cranks-who-despise-music-because-it-is-a-gift-of-god-music-drives-martin-luther-95-6-0681Martin Luther brought reformation to the church not only through his translation of the Bible into German and by his preaching of the gospel, but also by his composition of music for the people of God to sing. He is the author of numerous hymns, some of which are based directly on the Psalms.

One such is this one written on the basis of Psalm 130, for which he wrote both the lyrics and the melody (1523-24). The website from which this is taken includes this interesting background to the hymn.

[This] is a ver­sion of Psalm cxxx, which Lu­ther called a Paul­ine Psalm, and great­ly loved. He took spe­cial pains with his ver­sion. It was sung on May 9, 1525, at the fun­er­al of Fried­rich the Wise, in the Court Church at Wit­ten­berg. The people of Halle sang it with tears in their eyes as the great Re­form­er’s cof­fin passed through their ci­ty on the way to the grave at Wit­ten­berg. It is wov­en into the re­li­gious life of Ger­ma­ny.

In 1530, dur­ing the Di­et of Aug­sburg, Lu­ther’s heart was oft­en sore trou­bled, but he would say, ‘Come, let us de­fy the de­vil and praise God by sing­ing a hymn.’ Then he would be­gin, ‘Out of the depths I cry to Thee.’ It was sung at his fun­er­al.

Below is the hymn itself. At the link below you will find the tune to play with it.

Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee

Out of the depths I cry to Thee;
Lord, hear me, I implore Thee!
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me;
I lay my sins before Thee.
If Thou rememberest each misdeed,
If each should have its rightful meed,
Who may abide Thy presence?

Thou grantest pardon through Thy love;
Thy grace alone availeth;
Our works could ne’er our guilt remove;
Yea, e’en the best life faileth.
For none may boast himself of aught,
But must confess Thy grace hath wrought
Whate’er in him is worthy.

And thus my hope is in the Lord,
And not in my own merit;
I rest upon His faithful Word
To them of contrite spirit.
That He is merciful and just,
Here is my comfort and my trust;
His help I wait with patience.

Source: Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee

AbeBooks: The World’s Most Expensive Book

AbeBooks: The World’s Most Expensive Book.

And I am sure you are itching to know which book it is that carries this distinction of being the world’s most expensive book to date (as of Nov., 2013).

Is it perhaps an ancient manuscript from the 4th century? Is it maybe a rare Bible? How about a work of Cicero? or Shakespeare? Or perhaps a more modern piece of literature, something from C.S. Lewis?

Bay Psalm Book - 1640No, it is this book, a Psalter, or a special edition on the book of Psalms. Specifically, it is a rare copy of the Bay Psalm Book, dated 1640, considered by many to be the first book printed in what would become the United States of America.

Even though I featured this once before, Abe Books recently did a piece on it and I judged it worthy of notice once again. Plus, Abe Books has an interesting video to go with the story.

So, on this Friday, enjoy a slice of rare book history, a piece of American history, and a morsel of psalm book history. That is a meal hard to beat! 🙂

Here is the opening part of Abe Books’ story on the Psalter. Be sure and visit the special webpage; it features many other striking and beautiful editions of the Psalter throughout history.

This is the world’s most expensive book. You are looking at the Bay Psalm Book printed in 1640, which sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $14.2 million on November 26, 2013.

The auction firm estimated the sale price would be between $15 million and $30 million – but the final price still ensured it became the world’s most expensive printed book. The world’s most expensive paper document is Leonardo da Vinci’s journal, Codex Leicester, which sold for $30.8 million in 1994.

The Bay Psalm Book was the first book printed in what became the United States and this copy was owned by the Old South Church in Boston. And guess what? The church also has another copy that will not be sold. At one time, this church owned FIVE copies.

This Bay Psalm Book now belongs to financer and philanthropist David Rubenstein who plans to loan it to various libraries across the United States.

The last Bay Psalm Book to be sold before this one was bought at a Sotheby’s auction in 1947 for $151,000 by representatives bidding on behalf of Yale University.

The Days of the Years of Our Life – Rev.G.Vos

Vos, GerritFor many years, as many of you know, Rev.Gerrit Vos penned meditations for the Standard Bearer. He was gifted with a unique style of writing that matched the purpose and meaning of a meditation. His writings put the Word of God not merely right in front of you but made it penetrate your soul.

This week, while looking for a few fitting end-of-year meditations to post on the PRC website, I found this one, based on Psalm 90:10 and written for the January 1, 1963 “SB”. The full text of “The Days of the Years of Our Life” may be found both here and here.

I pull a section out of it here for your profit, encouraging you to read all of it sometime before the end of 2014. It will be good for you soul. It was for mine.

And the deepest reason why our days, our best days, are labor and sorrow is this: the wrath of God.

The Lord God walks among us and cuts off the stream of time allotted, and says at every sickbed which turns into a deathbed: Return, ye children of men! Return to destruction!

God carries our days away as with a flood. Our days are consumed by His anger, and by His wrath our days are troubles. In fact, all our days are passed away in Thy wrath, the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us.

Here we stand at the end of another year that was given to us, but the end of that year says: it is soon cut off and we fly away!

Yes, we soon fly away like iron to the magnet. And the MAGNET here is God! The moment we die we see God, the living God.

You see, He gathers us in, both the good and the bad. No one ever escapes from this ingathering.

And when the last man is gathered in at the end of the ages, the books shall be opened, and the dead, both small and great shall be judged according to what is written in those books.

And let me tell you right here that if there were no Jesus, all of us would be cast into everlasting hell.

Even God’s people, with all their good works, would be lost if it were not for Jesus.

In order to know that, look at your good works. Go ahead, look at them.

If you look long enough, with the spectacles of the Word of God on your nose, and the Spirit of truth in your heart, you will blush. You never did a good work that was absolutely perfect. Besides, also look at all the filth and corruption you are, spoke, did and thought. Oh yes, you will blush alright.

Listen to Moses, he will tell us: “Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.”

Yes, it grows very still in the waning hours of the last evening of nineteen hundred and sixty-two.

You know, I think that a very good prayer in that last night would be: O God, be merciful to me, the sinner!

Psalter 394 – Hope Heralds 2014

Psalter 394 Hope Heralds 2014 – YouTube.

HH2014CD-backAlso for our Lord’s Day meditation and edification today we post this video taken from the 2014 Hope Heralds concert, held Sept.7 in First CRC of Jenison, MI. It is a versification of Psalm 145 taken from the Psalter used in the PRC.

Here are the full lyrics of this versification:

1. I will extol Thee, O my God,
And praise Thee, O my King;
Yea, every day and evermore
Thy praises I will sing.
Great is the Lord, our mighty God,
And greatly to be praised;
His greatness is unsearchable,
Above all glory raised.

2. Each generation to the next
Shall testimony bear,
And to Thy praise, from age to age,
Thy wondrous acts declare.
Upon Thy glorious majesty
And honor I will dwell,
And all Thy grand and glorious works
And all Thy greatness tell.

3. Thy mighty acts and terrible
Shall men with awe confess;
Of Thy great goodness they shall sing,
And perfect righteousness.
Most gracious and compassionate
Is God Who reigns above;
His wrath is ever slow to rise,
Unbounded is His love.

Use this link or the one above) to get to the YouTube video.

Published in: on November 9, 2014 at 7:12 AM  Leave a Comment  
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New Hope Heralds CD – 2014 Season

HH2014CS-frontIn the past week the new Hope Heralds 2014 season CD was released, with Hope Heralds members being the first to receive it. My wife and I had it playing already in our car this past weekend, and I must say – with some bias – it is spectacular! We had a wonderful collection of songs again this year – from familiar psalms and hymns to some old and new “classics”.

 

For those unfamiliar with the Hope Heralds, the group is a men’s chorus made up mostly of Protestant Reformed brothers who enjoy singing together. Our season is typically from May to September, withe the summer months spent ministering God’s Word through song

The theme of this year’s CD is taken from one of the  songs – “By Mercy Made Holy” (“Let It Be Said of Us”). I have scanned the cover and back, so that you may see the title and the song selections (click on the images to enlarge).

HH2014CD-back

If you would like to obtain a copy (a bargain at $10!), you may do so through the Hope Heralds’ Facebook page (linked above), or by contacting Dan Van Dyke (director) or Karen Daling (accompanist) at Heritage Christian School. There are also copies at HCS and at the PRC Seminary, if you wish to stop by and pick one up. ‘Tis the season of giving – why not purchase one for a friend or family member as well?

No, I do not receive any royalties for this promotion. I just love spreading news of good music. Buy one, and you will understand why. 🙂

*P.S. If you wish to watch and listen to a preview of the professionally-recorded CD (from our live concert in September), visit Nick Kleyn’s YouTube channel.

Psalm 84 – Psalter 227 Delight in Church Ordinances

Psalm 84 – Psalter 227 Delight in Church Ordinances – YouTube.

And for our music meditation today, we feature this beautiful arrangement of Psalm 84 found in the Psalter used in the PRC. This is #227 with the title “Delight in Church Ordinances” and it is sung by the PR Psalm-singing Choir.

The video produced by Josh Hoekstra, director of the Psalm Choir,  is posted below. You may also find this and many other videos on the Psalm Choir channel on YouTube. Follow the link above.

Here are the words to this versification:

1. O Lord of Hosts, how lovely
Thy tabernacles are;
For them my heart is yearning
In banishment afar.
My soul is longing, fainting.
Thy sacred courts to see;
My heart and flesh are crying,
O living God, for Thee.

2. Beneath Thy care the sparrow
Finds place for peaceful rest;
To keep her young in safety
The swallow finds a nest;
Then, Lord, my King Almighty,
Thy love will shelter me;
Beside Thy holy altar
My dwelling place shall be.

3. Blest they who dwell in Zion,
Whose joy and strength Thou art;
Forever they will praise Thee,
Thy ways are in their heart.
Though tried, their tears like showers
Shall fill the springs of peace,
And all the way to Zion
Their strength shall still increase.

Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 7:36 AM  Leave a Comment  
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J.Calvin on Psalm 150: “We may worship God, until… we sing with elect angels an eternal hallelujah.”

JCalvin1Today, for our further reflection on Psalm 150, we also turn to the thoughts of the Reformer John Calvin on vss.1 and 6. These are wonderful concluding words on the OT Psalter. May they too serve to feed our souls, inspiring us to magnify our God with great and majestic praises in all our worship.

1. Praise God in his sanctuary.

…The Psalmist, in order to awaken men who grow languid in God’s praises, bids them lift their eyes towards the heavenly sanctuary. That the majesty of God may be duly reverenced, the Psalmist represents him as presiding on his throne in the heavens; and he enlarges upon the same truth in the second verse, celebrating his power and his greatness, which he had brought under our notice in the heavens, which are a mirror in which they may be seen.

If we would have our minds kindled, then, to engage in this religious service, let us meditate upon his power and greatness, which will speedily dispel all such insensibility. Though our minds can never take in this immensity, the mere taste of it will deeply affect us. And God will not reject such praises as we offer according to our capacity.

6. Whatever breathes, etc.

…As yet the Psalmist has addressed himself in his exhortations to the people who were conversant with the ceremonies under the law, now he turns to men in general, tacitly intimating that a time was coming when the same songs, which were then only heard in Judea, would resound in every quarter of the globe.

And in this prediction we have been joined in the same symphony with the Jews, that we may worship God with constant sacrifices of praise, until being gathered into the kingdom of heaven, we sing with elect angels an eternal hallelujah.

 

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 150

Psalm 150On this final Lord’s Day of September we come to the end of the book of Psalms in our Sunday worship preparation devotionals, as we take a brief look at Psalm 150.

And while the Psalms are indeed a spiritual biography of the children of God, allowing us to see into the souls of the saints as they go through all of life’s experiences and express themselves with regard to these varied experiences, the Psalms are not really about God’s people. The book of Psalms is about God – all about God. God and His glorious character; God and His glorious works. God and His majestic work of creation. God and His sovereign work of providence. God and His might acts of salvation. God and His mercy and grace and faithfulness to His people in Jesus Christ and for His sake. Yes, God is the heart and soul of the Psalms!

And so the Psalms are all about praising this glorious God. This is a book of “Hallelujahs” – “Praise the Lord”. And as we have been seeing, this theme is coming to a climax at the end of the book of Psalms. Once again I quote from the Nelson Study Bible as it aptly describes this last psalm: “Psalm 150, a psalm of praise, is a development of the Hebrew word hallelujah, meaning ‘Praise the Lord.’ How fitting that this book of praises – the meaning of the name of the Book of Psalms in Hebrew – ends in repeated commands to praise the Lord” (1029).

Psalm 150, like Psalm 148, is a call to universal praise. That is, the psalmist calls for all creatures to praise the Lord – from those in heaven to those on earth – everything that has breath. And he calls for them to do this using all the means God has given, especially instruments of music. So that this too is a call to worship the Lord – in the sanctuary of His creation and in the sanctuary of His church.

As we prepare to enter that sanctuary of God this day, let us hear this call to praise our glorious God. Let us think on God and His glorious character. Let us ponder His mighty works – around us, as well as for us and in us. And as those who have received breath from God – even new breath from the Breath of God, the Holy Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ – let us respond with glad and grateful “hallelujahs.”

Psalm 150

Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.

Psalter1912If you desire to meditate on Psalm 149 through music, I encourage you to listen to one of the versifications of this psalm at the PRC Psalter page. Here is one such versification, titled “A Summons to Praise” to get you started (Visit the link to hear piano accompaniment and sing along.):

1. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
In His temple God be praised;
In the high and heavenly places
Be the sounding anthem raised.

2. Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah
For his mighty acts of fame;
Excellent His might and greatness;
Fitting praises then proclaim.

3. Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah
With the trumpet’s joyful sound;
Praise with harp and praise with viol,
Let His glorious praise abound.

4. Hallelujah!  Praise Jehovah,
With the flute His praises sing;
Praise Him with the clanging cymbals,
Let them with His praises ring.

5. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
All that breathe, Jehovah praise;
Let the voices God hath given
Joyful anthems to Him raise.